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.
However, 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.
As 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.