Uluru-Kata Tjuta: The spiritual heart of Australia
Uluru and neighboring Kata Tjuta are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and to Australia’s Aboriginal population, sacred ground.
Visitors stand spellbound and transfixed by the sheer beauty of the giant rock phenomenon.
From a distance Uluru appears to have a smooth surface, but upon a closer look erosion has caused gashes, slashes and pitted holes, and has created cave-like shapes.
There are Aboriginal paintings in the caves of Uluru. The circles signify waterholes in the desert.
An Englishman by the name of Ernest Giles was the first white person to catch a glimpse of Kata Tjuta. He named it Mount Olga after the queen of a German province.
Tourists did not discover Uluru until the mid-1940s. With the exception of visits from scientists and those seeking fortune by panning for gold, the Anangu were left relatively unknown as the undisturbed caretakers.
The first possibility of a tourist attraction occurred in 1920 when the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was created on the Aboriginal reserve.
In 1985 the Australian government handed back the land to its rightful Anangu owners. In the deal the Anangu leased the land back to National Parks and Wildlife Service, now known as Parks Australia, for 99 years.
Tjukurpa is the basis of Anangu life. It explains the relationship between people, plants, animals and the land. It records the creation of all living creatures and the landscape. Tjukurpa is law.
The traditional Aboriginal owners, the Anangu, are governed by Tjukurpa law, which states that you should not climb the sacred monoliths. Climbing also breaks down the fragile sandstone rock bed. As a result, an official ban on climbing both Uluru and Kata Tjuta comes into effect in 2019.
Other ways to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park include a helicopter flight over the looming red landmarks and a camel ride along the dunes.
From an aerial perspective one can see the mammoth rock of Uluru's immense presence on the desert floor.
Tali Wiru in the native Anangu language translates to "beautiful dune." An unforgettable memory, al fresco dining as the sun goes down under the southern desert sky.
As the sun sets a local Australian plays the Aboriginal wind instrument known as didgeridoo.
British artist Bruce Munro's immersive large-scale light installation "Field of Light" blankets the desert floor with a solar-powered flower pageant. For maximum effect, see it at sunrise.
For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous Australians have seen eaten "bush tucker" - the Australian term for the local flavors of native herbs, spices, fruits, seeds, insects and wildlife.
Riding high above the red sand of Australia's Northern Territory the same way the early explorers did - by camel, with the stunning backdrop of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Australia's camel population is the biggest in the world. The first camel arrived in Australia in 1840. Most camels arrived from British India and Afghanistan. For visitors the chance to explore the outback by camel is a treasured desert experience.
The remarkable shapes of Uluru and Kata Tjuta were created by geological events that took place over hundreds of millions of years.
The solar-powered installation "Field of Light" opened on April 1, 2016, with more than 50,000 slender stems crowned with frosted glass spheres that "bloom" during sunrise and sunset.
A camel train at sunset.
Sunrise and sunset are a giant prism of yellow, red, blue and orange.
See the outback at The Sounds of Silence dinner is a remarkable desert experience. Dining under the stars while local musicians play into the night is a cherished moment of any Uluru adventure.
The Field of Light art installation by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Monroe captures the essence of light on the barren red desert of central Australia.
The many faces of Uluru and Kata Kjuta are considered hallowed grounds of the ancient Aboriginal culture and so sacred that only the local Anangu can visit them.