Facts About Uluru

The Magic of Kata Tjuta

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Uluru SunsetUluru, or Ayers Rock as it is commonly known, is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. But, nearby, there is another natural wonder that is well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Kata Tjuta is a collection of large domed rock formations that jut out of the arid landscape to the southwest of Alice Springs. Together with Uluru, they make up the two most popular landmarks in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is considered to be a sacred site to the Aboriginal people of Australia.

The lengthy history of the landmark means there are plenty of stories circulating it. As well as viewing the incredible scenery that surrounds it, including dusty red dunes and tufts of greenery, you can learn all about the rich array of legends that surround Kata Tjuta and Uluru while you’re in the area.

The Naming of Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta is commonly known as The Olgas to visitors. It was given this name thanks to its tallest peak, Mount Olga, which juts a little higher than the other rock formations in the vicinity.
Mount Olga was named by Ernest Giles back in 1872 after Queen Olga of Wurttemberg. 

The Legends of Kata Tjuta
The landscape surrounding Kata Tjuta and Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginal people of Australia, which means there are numerous dreamtime stories that circulate them.

There are a few legends that remember the great snake king, Wanambi, who was thought to reside at the top of Mount Olga, only coming down to ground level in the dry season. It was thought that his breath could turn a breeze into a hurricane, punishing those who committed evil deeds in the region. Kata Tjuta jenny

Despite there being a rich heritage surrounding the Olgas, much of the mythology is not disclosed to outsiders or tourists – particularly women as, according to Aboriginal tradition, if a woman learns about “men’s business”, she is susceptible to violent attacks.

The Anangu Aboriginal peoples believe something slightly different about Kata Tjuta. They believe that the rock formations are home to spirit energy from the ‘Dreaming’. Since 1995, the site has been used for cultural ceremonies after taking a break for many years.

mount olgaKata Tjuta is a magical place that really shows the true natural beauty of Australia. This part of the country is renowned for its rich Aboriginal history and its incredible displays of scenery so, if you’re in the area, be sure to check it out and learn all about the Dreamtime stories and legends that still imbue it today.

Getting to Know Mutitjulu Waterhole

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mutitjulu waterhole mmUluru is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, with a fascinating Indigenous history and an incredible natural landscape. Surrounding it, there are several watering holes, including the Mutitjulu Waterhole.
This adds to the rich display of breath-taking scenery in the region, from jutting ancient monoliths to valleys, peaks, and picturesque trails. Mutitjulu is one of the few landmarks in the area that goes relatively unvisited, but it is well worth stopping by if you’re in the area. The unusually shaped hole at the base of Uluru provides a thirst-quenching spot for thirsty animals, and it is also home to an Aboriginal community of more than 300 people. 

For these people, Uluru, Mutitjulu and the surrounding landmarks of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are sacred places that have been the home of important traditions for centuries. They speak a number of age-old languages, including Pitjantjatjara, Luritja, and Yangkunytjatjara. 

What to Do at the Mutitjulu Waterholemutitjulu waterhole 2 mm

The scenery of Mutitjulu and around it is home to a number of things that visitors can get stuck into, whether you’re looking for an adventurous pursuit or something that will help you uncover the cultural wonders of the region. 

Explore the Ancient Rock Art

The Aboriginal people who live around Mutitjulu have resided there for thousands of years. As a result, there are several spots where you can view rock art from centuries ago. These paintings depict the life and times of the tribes, and you can dig deeper into their traditions and spiritual beliefs through them. As well as exploring the selection of etchings yourself, you can head to the Cultural Centre, where you can discover real-life stories from some of the people who have been a part of the landscape for millennia.

mutitjulu waterhole rockart mmTake a Walk

The scenery surrounding Mutitjulu is a haven for outdoor lovers. As well as exploring the waterhole itself and the rest of the base of Uluru, you can traverse one of the many trails that weave through the landscape. Outback trails take you through desert scenery, where you can pick your way through creeks that have been carved over many years, revel in the beauty of the King’s Canyon, and see some of the lesser-known watering holes that are dotted around Mutitjulu. 

Exploring this part of Australia is an incredible experience. Not only do you get to experience some of the country’s oldest and most sacred landscapes, but you can learn all about the rich history that imbues the major landmarks in the area, too.

Walking Through Walpa Gorge

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walpa michaelUluru and its surrounding arid landscape is one of Australia’s most prominent ecosystems. Here, tufts of greenery break up the sprawling red earth that seems to stretch out endlessly to the horizon.The desert is home to a selection of Australia’s best-loved wildlife and ancient monuments that have both sacred importance to the local Indigenous tribes and also provide iconic images of the country.At Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, visitors can gaze out on the surroundings, taking in the age-old landscape while they learn more about the dreamtime stories that imbue the land.

This site boasts a number of picturesque walks that visitors can take, passing through rich scenery and stunning viewpoints along the way. The two most popular walks are through Walpa Gorge and the Valley of the Winds.The former weaves its way through the thirty-six majestic domes that make up the iconic landmark of Kata Tjuta, exposing hikers to the fragile environment that has characterised this part of Australia for thousands of years. kata tjuta michael

Along the way, you can learn more about the fascinating Aboriginal past of the region, discovering how the land owners conduct traditional ceremonies and carry out their daily lives surrounding by nature.

Walpa Gorge itself is a natural creek that carves its way between the two tallest domes of Kata Tjuta. The path folds out in a rocky formation and follows a 2.6-kilometre return route that takes you directly through the rugged walls of the landmark.

walpa 2 michaelThe gorge is a sight to behold, boasting a unique ecosystem that acts as a desert refuge for many of the plants and animals that live there. Keep your eyes peeled for rare plant species as you pass groves of vibrant spear wood and reach the designated viewing platform that sits between the domes of Kata Tjuta.  

The scenery that unfolds around you is breath taking, while the vastness of the landscape tells of the many stories that have taken place here over the years. Listen out for the gentle sound of the wind, too, because this is how the gorge got its name – Walpa means whistle in the local language of the Anangu people who reside in the area.

The landscape surrounding Uluru is filled with incredible natural monuments that are well worth a visit. Kata Tjuta is an impressive, surreal sight, and the Walpa Gorge walk lets you enjoy it in all its glory, as well as explore the lush oasis of the gorge itself.

The Impressive Landscape of Uluru

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UluruUluru is one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks and one of the country’s major tourist hotspots - and for good reason. The unique natural structure has been formed over millions of years, creating a peaked monolith that juts out of the surrounding desert scenery. As well as an incredible collection of scenery, it boasts a fascinating Indigenous history that imbues the landscape and brings it to life.

The History of Uluru and its Geology

Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta are millions of years old. According to geologists and researchers, it is thought the monolith and its surroundings started to form around 550 million years ago when the Peterman Ranges that can be found to the west of Kata Tjuta were much taller than they are now.

Because of their elevated height, excess rainwater began to seep down the mountains, eroding the soft rock and sand that they were made out of as it went. Over time, the water erosion created two big fan shapes that spanned the plains; one that was rocky in formation, and the other made of sand.kata tjuta tourists

Around 500 million years ago, the area was taken over by the sea. The sand and mud that originally characterised it sank to the bottom of the ocean and created a layer on top of the sea bed. The added weight turned the fan shapes into rock, where the sand fan became Uluru and the rocky fan became Kata Tjuta.

100 million years after the sea rose to cover the landscape, it disappeared again. The rocks that had formed tilted in response to the shifting tectonic plates, and Uluru turned 90 degrees.

Take it back 300 million years, and the softer rocks that surrounded the fans eroded away, leaving the pure remnants of Kata Tjuta and Uluru. Today, these great monoliths are simply huge slabs of rock that we can only see a small part of - they continue underground for at least six kilometres.

The Rock Formation of Uluru

Uluru itself is formed of a type of rock known as arkose. You can really get a feel for it when you take the Base Walk around the monolith, where you’ll notice the surface of it is a flaky red colour with intermittent grey patches.

Uluru Rock FormationThese flakes are actually tiny bits of rock that have been left on the surface after the decaying of the rock minerals, which is usually caused by water and oxygen erosion. The red part is actually rusty iron, a chemical that is naturally found in arkose and is grey in its original colour.

Visiting Uluru is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not least because there’s so much to discover. As well as seeing the impressive monolith with your own eyes, you’ll get to learn all about the rich history and traditions that imbue the area, as well as find out how the formation came to exist millions and millions of years ago.

Daly Waters and the Daly Waters Pub

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Daly Waters is a small town set around 620 kilometres from Darwin in the heart of Australia’s Northern Territory. Traditionally owned by the Jingili people, it is thought that the Dreaming tracks of the Emu and Sun made their way through the spot where the town now is as they ventured to the south of the region. Daly Waters 3

The Daly Waters Pub  

Perhaps the most iconic attraction in town is the Daly Waters Pub, an historic watering hole with tonnes of character. Dating back to 1930, it has a turbulent history peppered with shoot outs, witnessed murders, and cattle stampedes – not to mention the odd drunken bar brawls over the years.

It is best-known for its wall of memorabilia, though, which is thought to date back to the 80s when a drinking bet between a coach driver and his female passengers ended in the ladies leaving their bras behind to hang from the ceiling. Today, you can find so much more than bras decorating the interior as travellers continue to leave their belongings and their mark in the pub. 

Daly Waters 2
The pub is the perfect place to refuel with a cold beer after a harsh day venturing through the arid outback. There is usually a range of six beers on tap, all served below freezing so you can feel refreshed and relaxed.

Food at the Daly Waters Pub
Food served at the pub is a traditional Australian fare. As well as your usual pub grub dishes, you can tuck into local favourites, like the loin of kangaroo and crocodile slider.

Accommodation at the Daly Waters Pub

If you want to bed down for the night at the Daly Waters Pub, you have plenty of options. As well as a campsite where you can sleep beneath the stars, there are caravans, cabins, motels, and budget rooms for all sorts of travellers. So whether you’re looking to relax in style or keep your purse strings tight, there’s something for you.  Daly Waters 1
If you’re passing through the outback and are looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat and cool off with an ice cold drink, the Daly Waters Pub is the place to go. Not only will you be served traditional Aussie treats, but you’ll be soaking up a bit of regional history as you go – just don’t forget to leave your mark on the memorabilia wall.

The Dreamtime Stories of the Devil’s Marbles

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Forming one of the Northern Territory’s most impressive geological wonders, the Devil’s Marbles can be found not too far from Uluru. These impressive granite boulders are peppered around a sprawling valley about 100 kilometres to the south of Tennant Creek. devils marbles Michael

The “Marbles” have been formed over millions of years by the act of erosion and rise up out of the desert scenery in a surreal display of granite – kind of like a natural art exhibition. Each boulder comes in a different size, ranging from between 50 centimetres to six metres across. Perhaps the most amazing part of the scene is that many of the huge stones are balanced on top of each other, seeming to defy gravity. Even today, they are continuously evolving in a constant stream of cracking and erosion.

As well as making an eye-catching natural landscape, the Devil’s Marble are important to the local Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra, and Warlpiri people who live in the traditional country that surrounds them. They refer to the wonder as Karlu Karlu which, when translated into English, simply means “round boulders”.

The Aboriginal Importance of the Devil’s Marbles

The Aboriginal history surrounding the Marbles is fascinating, and they are now protected under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. Many legends of the stones have been passed down through several generations, but they are incredible secret so only a few can be shared amongst visitors in the region.

One of the most popular Dreamtime stories that involves the rocks relates to how they came to be. The legend introduces “Arrange”, an ancient ancestor of the local people who once walked through the area. As he passed through, he made a hair-string belt, which is a traditional garment worn by initiated Aboriginal men. As he began spinning the hair into strings, he dropped big clumps of them which then turned into the big red boulders we see today. According to the end of the legend, Arrange went back to his origins in Ayleparrarntenhe, where he is thought to still live today. karlu karlu michael

 Exploring the Devil’s Marbles

There are no set walks around the Devil’s Marbles. Instead, there is simply a network of self-guided routes that take you around the eastern side of the reserve. As you stroll along the walkways, you’ll learn more about the geological wonder, like how it was formed, and how it has stood up against the elements for all this time. If you’re visiting between May and October, be sure to check out the program of live events run by the park rangers to celebrate their Territory Parks Alive Program.

Relaxing at the Mataranka Hot Springs

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Near Uluru, 100km south of Katherine, Mataranka brings visitors a lush landscape that’s peppered with thermal pools, trickling streams, and plenty of places to feed the local Barramundi.

Here, you can kick back and relax in one of the many watering holes, or explore the shady trails that weave through ancient palm trees and other fascinating vegetation – keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife, too.
Perhaps the biggest draw to the region are the Mataranka Hot Springs. Said to heal any aches and pains, the sparkling, clear waters perch in the shade of the many paperbark and palm trees that surround them.

MatarankaIt’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day on the road, where you’ll be surrounded by fantastic scenery and a landscape that is imbued with fascinating cultural history.

The water is spring fed and bubbles at around 34 degrees Celsius throughout the year, providing a relaxing environment to soak up. Keep a look out for little red flying foxes, too, as the area is a natural breeding ground for these cute critters – you’re more likely to see them if you’re in the area between November and May, but sometimes the breeding season drags on a little longer than this.

Visiting at the right time is important if you don’t want to share the warm waters with too many people. At peak times, there can be up to 50 people kicking back and relaxing in the springs, but people tend to move on quickly after they’ve have a short, refreshing dip.

Other Things to Do Around the Mataranka Hot Springs
It’s not just the warm spring waters that draw visitors in to this part of Australia. There are also plenty of stunning walks that take you along the length of the picturesque Roper River and through the bush from the campground at 12 Mile Hole.

Mataranka IIPartway along, the serene waters of the river start cascading over the tufa dams at Mataranka Falls, with a spa pool languishing at the bottom. Again, the falls are surrounded by pretty scenery, despite much of the foliage being ripped from the river banks in recent floods.

If you find yourself wanting to explore a different side to Australia’s Red Centre, Mataranka is the place to go. Not only will the hot springs soothe your aching muscles, but you can soak up the pretty scenery around the Falls and the numerous hiking trails dotted around.


Uluru vs Ayers Rock: The Name Change of Australia’s Most Iconic Monument

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Standing at 348 metres above the desert floor, Uluru is the world’s largest monolith and one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. But it hasn’t always been called Uluru.

In fact, for most people, the towering red rock formation is simply known as Ayers Rock and has been for years, but its rich and fascinating Aboriginal history encouraged a name-change back in the 90s.

In 1872, European explorer Ernest Giles first dubbed the rock Ayers Rock after the South Australian Premier at the time, Sir Henry Ayers.

Uluru distanceHowever, the rock’s history dates back thousands and thousands of years and has been a part of Indigenous traditions and culture since the beginning of time. In fact, it is owned by the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people (known together as the Anangu people) and is home to a timeline of ancient rock paintings and sacred sites.

On October 26th 1985, the government of Australia finally returned ownership of Uluru to the Anangu people, who continue to remain custodians of the land. But it wasn’t until 1995 that the name change officially took place. In this year, the name of the national park changed from Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The change was put in place to show respect for the Anangu people and, specifically, to acknowledge their ownership of the land that had provided them with a home and many stories for thousands of years.

Today, Uluru remains an incredibly popular attraction with a hefty cultural history imbued in its dusty red surface. Visitors flock to the sacred site to marvel at the impressive natural structure of the rock and to learn about the centuries-old history that characterises it and the surrounding desert landscape.

Milky Way UluruAs well as numerous trails that weave around the base of the monolith and through the spectacular surrounding scenery, there are plenty of opportunities to see age-old rock paintings that date back to the very beginning of life for the Anangu people.

If you want to learn more about the Indigenous history of Uluru and its name change, you can duck into the on-site Cultural Centre, where there are numerous interactive displays that lay out the region’s history. You can also take a guided tour with an Aboriginal guide who will share the stories and traditions of their people with you.

Visiting Uluru is a must-do on any visit to Australia, as this impressive monolith forms an important part of the country, both past and present.




Mt Conner - Red Centre’s hidden gem

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Mt conner IWhen people think of Northern Territory’s Red Centre, one mountain generally springs to mind. Uluru is the world's largest rock and is the beacon for tourist attractions across the entire country. If you know a little more about the Red Centre, though, you may even know about Kata Tjuta, another phenomenal mountain that is actually linked to the same underground rock formation as Uluru.

With this having been said, there is a third mountain that is often entirely ignored or forgotten. Known as Mt Conner, this flat-topped monolith is estimated to be 500 million years old. Though it may be forgotten, it certainly does not mean that this extraordinary mountain is not worth visiting, in fact, it is a fascinating hidden gem of the Red Centre. At a total height of 300 meters, this towering chunk of sandstone, siltstone and mudstone creates an incredible impression on the otherwise flat landscape. Located in the Southwest corner of Northern Territory’s Red Centre, this fascinating peak lies within private land.

You will find Mt Conner standing amidst a vast and fully operational cattle station called Curtin Springs Station 100 km east of Uluru Resort. With plenty of dams on the property to accommodate the cattle, this source of water has allowed for a number of different animals to thrive. During your tour of this phenomenal landscape, you will have the chance to spot a number of kangaroos and rock wallabies as well as a rich bird and reptile population. Since the entire piece of land is over 1 million acres in size, you are sure to see a wide range of wildlife and plant-life on the road to the main attraction; Mt Conner.

mt conner IIMt Conner has an unmistakable horseshoe shape that becomes very obvious the more you explore the surrounding area. From far away, the mountain actually looks somewhat similar to Uluru and is often mistaken for Uluru itself as tourists view it from a distance.

Though most people make a beeline for Uluru, which is also known as Ayers Rock, the Red Centre has far more to offer in the way of impressive rock structures. While Kata Tjuta is also fairly well known, the breathtaking view of Mt Conner is just as impressive. Not only is it beautiful, but a visit to this mountain will also provide you with a truly unique experience of exploring one of Australia’s lesser-known attractions.


Exploring the Garden of Eden in Kings Canyon

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Garden of Eden Kings CanyonKings Canyon sits in the heart of Australia’s famed Red Centre close to the iconic landmark of Uluru. Here, vast sandstone landscapes mingle with ancient rock formations and gorges to create a surreal scene like nowhere else in the country.

As part of the Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon is an important conservation area and home to more than 600 native species of plant and animals – many of which are completely unique to the area between Alice Springs and Uluru.

The Kings Canyon is renowned for its jutting sandstone walls, which have been created over millions of years. The national park itself is home to the Luritja Aboriginal people, who have resided in the region for over 20,000 years and named it after the Aboriginal word for the umbrella bush that is so common there.

The Garden of Eden
Because of its location in the Red Centre and its surrounding plethora of ancient, rocky scenery, the Garden of Eden stands out as a unique and prominent part of Kings Canyon. This permanent waterhole brings abundant life to the area; the lush greenery of which casts a stark contrast against the orange rock formations.

Garden of Eden IITo get to the top of Kings Canyon and begin your journey to the Garden of Eden, you have to climb 500 steps. Once at the peak, you join a 6km long circuit that passes through arid “bee-hive” rock formations that languish around the top of the canyon. From there, it’s down into the hidden Garden of Eden to explore everything it has to offer.

You’ll leave behind the heat of the domes and descend into a shady oasis characterised by the lush watering hole. The traditional owners of the area consider this an important men’s sacred place where their dreamtime stories can be shared in private. The sacredness of the watering hole means no swimming is allowed so that the hundreds of species that rely on it do not get endangered.

Garden of Eden IWhile in the Garden of Eden, you can discover the incredible selection of plant life and unusual rock formations known as the Lost City that provide an unusual backdrop to the proceedings.

From the Canyon’s base you can begin the Kings Creek Walk, which takes in the lush ferns and eucalyptus plants and leads you to a platform where you can marvel at the stunning views over the surrounding scenery.  

As well as hiking through the area, you can explore Kings Canyon and the Garden of Eden from the back of a camel on a safari, or enjoy the surroundings from Kings Creek Station, a real working cattle station located in the heart of the outback.

The Significance of Uluru to Australian Indigenous Culture

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uluruUluru might be one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, but it’s also a hugely important part of the country’s cultural history. The landscape surrounding the monolith has been inhabited for thousands and thousands of years – long before it was “officially” discovered in the 1800s. Today, Uluru and the Aboriginal culture that imbues the area are very much entwined in a historic narrative that spans generations.

The natural landmark is thought to have been formed by ancestral beings during the fabled Dreamtime. According to the local Aboriginal people, Uluru’s numerous caves and fissures prove this. Even today, rituals are still held in the caves around the base – spots where tourists aren’t allowed to snap photos out of respect.

For many, Uluru and its neighbour Kata Tjuta aren’t just rocks, they are living, breathing, cultural landscapes that are incredibly sacred. Owned by the Anangu people, they still act as guardians of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and are the oldest culture known to man.

Uluru coloursDating back more than 60,000 years, the Anangu people believe their culture has always been a vital part of Central Australian life, and that the landscape in this region was created at the beginning of time by the travels and traditions of their great ancestral beings.

For the Anangu people, nomadic life isn’t what it used to be. They have moved forward with the times, but they continue to centre their lives around the ancient laws of the land and traditions passed down from generation to generation via Dreamtime stories. These laws, also known as Tjukurpa, act as a baseline to this unique culture and still govern all relationships that take place between people, animals, and the land. If you visit Uluru and its surrounding landscape today, you’ll see that these cultural connections are still a strong part of life there.

uluru2The Anangu people work hard to protect their lengthy, fascinating history, and continue to live in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

While at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, you can learn more about the Anangu people and their past, as well as the strong ties the natural formations have to the culture of the region. The on-site Cultural Centre provides ample opportunity to get to know the unique narratives of the region, while local Aboriginal tour guides show tourists around the base of Uluru every single day.

Why You Should Walk the Valley of the Winds

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Valley of the winds2The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Australia, drawing in visitors who are keen to explore the natural and cultural history of the region. Set in the Red Centre of the country and encompassing one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, Uluru, it boasts numerous unusual geological features.

Though Uluru is the main attraction in the area, it’s well worth exploring Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas), which is a land of 36 steep sandstone monoliths that are dotted across the rugged and wild landscape.

To view these exceptional natural offerings, you can head to their designated viewing platforms, or you can take a number of walks that weave through the surroundings. The Valley of the Winds walk is one of the most popular, taking in Kata Tjuta and its nearby scenery in a seven kilometre walk.

Valley of the windsThis is just one of the two walks left in Kata Tjuta that remain open to the public. It carves a loop through the national park and encompasses two of the most spectacular lookout points, where you can gaze out across the impressive monoliths and the ancient scenery that surrounds them.

All in all, the walk takes around three hours and is generally easy-going. The first lookout you’ll take in is the Karu lookout, where you can look down on the domes of Kata Tjuta from above and peer out into the sacred Anangu men’s area. From there, the walk takes you to the Karingana lookout. The walk up here can be slightly challenging but, once you get to the top, you’ll be able to gaze out no a timeless landscape of domes and the surrounding creeks that carve ancient paths through the valley.

Valley of the winds3When to Walk the Valley of the Winds
If you want to avoid the crowds and explore the Valley of the Winds at your own pace, we recommend visiting in the early morning – this also means you’ll avoid the harsh heat of the Australian midday sun.

Along the way, you’ll get to experience the unique flora and fauna that call this part of Australia home and learn more about the cultural history of this fascinating region. Boasting a rich Aboriginal culture, the land here is imbued with timeless stories and ancient traditions that are just waiting to be discovered and explored. If you plan on visiting Uluru, make sure you set aside some time to head to Kata Tjuta and undertake the Valley of the Winds Walk.