Why you should visit Uluru in Australia
Uluru, in Australia, is truly a stunning site, formed millions of years ago. Here's why you should visit the historic rock
Although visitors to Australia may be familiar with the image of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, nothing can prepare them for the rush of spine-tingling awe when the massive, rust-coloured natural monolith comes into view.
Rising abruptly from the sandy plain to a height of 1,142ft, the rock is 1.5 miles long. Astonishingly, what people see is only the tip of a buckled sandstone slab that extends 4km underground. Earth movements over the last 600 million years first compressed the layers of rock, then turned them on end so that horizontal strata became vertical furrows.
Heart and soul
In the belief system of the Anangu Aboriginal people, Uluru was formed by ancestral beings such as the Mala (rufous hare wallaby), and the Kuniya and Liru (poisonous snakes) during the Creation time. Every crevice, fissure and eroded scar on Uluru’s ridged and pitted flanks is evidence of the ancestors’ activities. Deep grooves on the rock show where snake woman slithered, while boulders nearby are her eggs. Potholes on the rock face are the footprints of fleeing Mala men. It is possibly the world's oldest sacred site.
The Anangu ask that visitors do not climb the rock. In fact, there is much to be discovered by taking the 6.5 mile Base Walk. There, fed by run-off from the heavy, but infrequent, desert storms, are deep waterholes shaded by lush vegetation that support a surprisingly rich ecosystem.
The animals and plants around Uluru have supported native communities for thousands of years. The natural habitat has provided food and drink, medicine and tobacco. It has also supplied the Anangu with materials for fuel, building, art and religious rituals.
"The animals and plants around Uluru have supported native communities for thousands of years"
Bush food, or tucker, includes tjanmata (bush onion), arnguli (bush plum) and ili (native fig). Meat is sourced from malu (red kangaroo), tinka (sand goanna) and ngintaka (perentie lizards); bird and lizard eggs, along with grubs, provided extra nutrition. However, some of the hundreds of tree, plant and shrub species in the National Park are highly poisonous.
The changing colours through the day are one of Uluru’s best-loved features. Oxidation, or "rusting", of the feldspar and iron in Uluru’s arkose sandstone produces the distinctive colour, and this mineral composition also causes the changing colours through the day.
"Oxidation, or "rusting", of the feldspar and iron in Uluru’s arkose sandstone produces the distinctive colour"
At dusk it glows bright red, then fades to orange, terracotta and purple. At sunrise, the same spectacle happens in reverse.
Banner credit: Uluru (Ek2030372672)
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