Sacred space: Australia’s most recognisable landmark

By Kotnyin Thon

In the heart of Australia is Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a living cultural landscape that is a sacred part of the traditional beliefs of one of the oldest human societies.

The sandstone monolith, located in the Northern Territory, is believed to have formed around 550 million years ago.


Uluru is within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which also includes the 36 red-rock domes of Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas. The nearest town is Alice Springs about 450km away.

A huge and rounded red sandstone, it is about 348 metres high, rising 863 metres above sea level, has a perimeter of 9.4km and extends approximately 2.5 kilometres underground.

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) inspired the second part of the national park’s name. Picture: Jorge Láscar/CC/Wikimedia


Dreamtime is the key to everything and, of the sacred sites in Australia, few are as important as Uluru.

The land speaks for the essence of their spirituality, culture, society, and traditions.

Uluru’s numerous caves and fissures were all formed due to ancestral beings in the actions Dreaming. Ceremonies are still held today in the sacred caves lining the base.

Traditional custodians

The Anangu (pronounced Aa-naang-oo) people are the local tribe. Their culture has always been a vital part of central Australian life. Anangu Tjukurpa (chook-orr-pa) teaches that the landscape was formed as their ancestral beings moved across the barren land.

Uluru is sacred to its indigenous custodians, the Anangu people, who have long implored tourists not to climb.

‘’Visitors began climbing Uluru in the late 1930s, and to keep people safe, the first section of the climb chain was installed in 1964. In 1985 Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was handed back to the Traditional Owners, Anangu, in an event known as Handback,’’ explains a Parks Australia report.

Some of the local wildlife. Photo: Vladimir Haltakov/CC/Unsplash

The Uluru climb was closed permanently on October 26, 2019. To touch base on the indigenous values of humility, honesty, honour, and trust reflect commitment to the collective and embody a respectful relationship with the land.

Did you know?

  • Some visitors were using Uluru as a loo
  • Climbers would leave their rubbish behind
  • 38 people died while climbing Uluru
  • It’s a smooth and very slippery surface when wet
  • Uluru is taller than Paris’ Eiffel tower
  • You can’t climb but you can still touch Uluru

Feature image: Beautiful Ayers Rock. Photo: Ek2030372672/CC/Wikimedia Commons

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