Today’s U-word takes us back to the Australian Outback to visit Uluru, also known as Ayres Rock.
Uluru is a massive sandstone rock about a five hour drive from Alice Springs deep in the interior of Australia. It is a famous and well known landmark but in fact is not the only massive rock formation. Nearby Kata-Tjuta – also known as The Olgas – is about 600 ft higher than Uluru and was a fabulous surprise to visit.
If the two names are confusing it’s because the Australian government approved a dual naming policy in the mid 1990s so that sites may have two official names – the English and the traditional Aboriginal one. The Aboriginal name is now normally referred to as the primary name.
In the 1980s, the deed to Uluru and Kata-Tjuta reverted back to the Anangu Aboriginal people. An agreement now exists between the Anangu and the Australian government to jointly manage this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Uluru stands higher than the Eiffel Tower. It is about 10 km around the base.
It is considered a sacred site by the Anangu and although it is not prohibited, they request that people do not climb the rock. In spite of that request, it is highly popular to climb although it is quite strenuous and can be treacherous – particularly due to the winds. Over the years, several dozen people have died after falling during a climb. Once you start to fall, the smooth sides of the rock don’t provide much opportunity to stop the descent.
Tourists flock to Uluru at sunrise and sunset – to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning and to capture the beauty of the changing colour of the stone in the fading light of evening.
There are several natural wonders I have visited in my life where it felt like I was in a very special – yes, even sacred – place. This was one of them.