Ayers Rock

Useful Information

Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia. Public Domain.
Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia. Public Domain.
Location: Kata Tjuta National Park, central Australia.
Guided tours:  
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1987 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia. Public Domain.
Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia. Public Domain.

Uluru is more commonly known by the name the white settlers gave this extraordinary place: Ayers Rock. A red sandstone ridge, formed by erosion, appears like a big red whale stranded in the middle of the desert. Uluru is the worlds largest monolith, 318 m high above the desert floor with a circumference of 8 km.

From the geologic view, this is the remains of a hard layer of sandstone. Uplifted by tectonic forces it became subject to weathering, which means primarly wind erosion. The desert wind brings fine sand which works like emery paper. The wind is supported by the extreme temperature changes in the desert, hot days and cold nights. Even frost is common during the night, so the rock is destroyed by water freezing in fine cracks and shattering the rock by expansion.

But why is this rock listed on showcaves.com? Becaus it is a mayor tourist site and it is full of caves. The caves are wind caves, which are typically rather shallow. Overhanging rocks, shelters which were used by the Australian aborigines. The caves are cool, provide shadow and somtimes have springs or some remains of the last rain.

Many caves at Ulury show cave paintings from the aborigines. This people settled in Australia probably 40,000 years ago, coming from Asia.

In the last decades the Australian Government made big efforts to give back as much of their property as possible to the aborigines. This place is - easy to understand - a special place for them, a magic place and a holy place. The caves are the focus of mystical forces. Today the whole area belongs to the aborigines, and tourism has to respect their believes.

So today a visit of this place is a compromise. It is very much recommended, not to climb on the rock, and it is not possible to visit all the caves. The guides typically make a tour around the rock and show some certain spots.