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Ayers Rock: A Place of Magic

By Richard Moore

Ayers Rock

Uluru is the world's largest, and
arguably its most famous, monolith

Ayers Rock, or Uluru, is possibly the single greatest icon of Australia. It certainly is our most famous natural landmark.

Rising majestically more than 348 metres (1142 feet) out of the flat desert floor of central Australia you can walk for nine kilometres around its base.

Uluru, as you may well note, is the world's largest monolith - or single piece of stone. It is made of arkosic sandstone.

There are daily flights to Ayers Rock Airport from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Alice Springs direct to Ayers Rock Airport.

It certainly was a surprise to this fellow, but isolated as its location is, Ayers Rock Airport gets up to 400,000 passengers a year tripping through it. Maybe that's not so surprising when you consider the magical marvel that's only a few kilometres distant.

And magical is the right word to use for Uluru and the surrounding Kata Tjuta National Park. It is a sacred place for Aborigines based on their legends of the formation of the world and parts of the area are fenced off because they are vitally important to their beliefs. Sometimes photography in certain places is not allowed.

And because climbing Uluru is a deeply spiritual thing for Aborigines they would prefer it if visitors to Ayers Rock did not make the journey to the top themselves. However, tens of thousands of people do.

If you intend to climb the Rock, or just walk around its base, then there are things to take with you. Dress sensibly with good strong shoes or boots, take water with you, and make sure you have a hat.

In spring and summer - September through February - the temperatures range from an average 20 to 35°C (69-96 degrees Fahrenheit) and can get much, much hotter. Autumn and winter - March to August - are less daunting ranging between 5 to 20°C (41-69 degrees Fahrenheit).

There are plenty of places to stay at around Uluru, including a resort and camping grounds - click here for a list of hotels in the area to get an idea of prices.

Near Ayers Rock are the impressive Olgas rock formations. There are several dozen of the natural structures, the highest being about 200 metres. The Aboriginal name for the Olgas - named by a European explorer after a German queen - is Kata Tjuta, or Many Heads.

Oh, and by the way Ayers Rock is named so after Sir Henry Ayres, a chief secretary of South Australia at the time it was discovered by Europeans.

Now just in case you are thinking that while you are up at the Rock you will pop on over to see the famous Alice Springs - plan ahead. Because of the size of Australia the journey is a little longer than you may think - like about 500 kilometres! Nothing too hard to overcome - but it is a five hour road trip. Mind you that is nowhere near as lengthy a trip as it is getting to Sydney - a gentle 2200 kilometres away.

If you have the time to visit Uluru then it is a must-do. The giant rock changes colour with the light and is stunning when the morning or afternoon sun strikes it turning it varying shades of red. It is a photographer's dream.

Alice Springs Hotels
Ayers Rock Resort

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