How Did Uluru Get Its Name?

How Did Uluru Get Its Name?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 06/18/2024

Reading time: 2 mins

About 550 million years ago, Uluru started to form. But where did the name come from and why is it also known as Ayers Rock?

In the heart of Australia, Uluru is considered one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks. The red rock is 348 metre tall and is not only an iconic landmark of Australia, but it is a sacred site to the traditional owners.


The red sandstone monolith has been called Uluru for thousands of years. The Anangu people are the traditional owners of the land and have lived here for at least 30,000 years. Uluru is a noun from the Pitjantjatjara language and there isn’t an English translation.
In Anangu culture, the Uluru landscape was created by their ancestors, and it is an important and sacred site for them.

Where did the name Ayers Rock come from?

In 1873, explorer William Gosse was the first non Aboriginal person to see Uluru. He then decided to name Uluru Ayers Rock, after Sir Henry Ayers, who was the Chief Secretary of South Australia.

Ayers Rock became widely known worldwide until the rock was renamed Ayers Rock/Uluru in 1993. Then nine years later, in 2002, the names were reversed after the Regional Tourism Association in Alice Springs requested it.

Want to see Uluru for yourself?

Uluru is a magnificent giant rock that is a must see during your visit to Australia. Even though Uluru sits in the middle of Australia in the outback desert, thousands of people travel here to see it for themselves.

The drive there is a long one from Darwin, taking about 20 hours. Even the closest town to Uluru, Alice Springs, the journey takes about five hours. If you are not up to driving yourself (we don’t blame you), you can book a tour or catch a plane that arrives at Connellan Airport (Ayers Rock Airport).

Even though Uluru is officially known as Uluru/Ayers Rock, it is respectful to the Anangu people to use the original name. Throughout the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, the rock will be referred to as Uluru too. Take part in a tour and learn more about Uluru, its history, and the Anangu culture.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.