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Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
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Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a park in the southern portion of the Northern Territory of Australia, part of the so-called Red Centre of the continent. The National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage area. It is best known for Uluru (formerly known as "Ayers Rock"), a single massive rock formation, and to a lesser extent for Kata Tjuta (formerly known as "The Olgas").
Uluru is one of Australia's best known natural features, the long domed rock having achieved iconic status as one of the symbols of the continent. The rock is a so-called monolith, i.e. a single piece of rock or a giant boulder, extending about 5km beneath the desert plain and measuring 3.6 by 2.4km at the surface. It rises 348 meters above the plain (862.5 meters above sea level) and has a circumference of 9.4km. Some say that Uluru is the biggest of its kind, others say that Mount Augustus in Western Australia is bigger. Whilst this is true, the comparison is not completely valid because Mount Augustus is a monocline, i.e. a slab of exposed rock belonging to an underground layer. In other words, it is not a separate boulder. Biggest or not, standing in front of Uluru and seeing its massive bulk rise above the flat plain surrounding it, it is nothing less than impressive.
As the park's name indicates, Uluru is not the only protected feature. Not as well known, but definitely worth visiting is Kata Tjuta, a collection of 36 variously-sized rock domes 36 km to the west of Uluru. Although perhaps not as dramatic a sight as Uluru, Kata Tjuta has a more intimate atmosphere. Some geologists believe that once it may have been a monolith far surpassing Uluru in size, but that it eroded to several separate bulks of rock.
Both names come from the local Anangu (Aboriginal) people and respectively mean "Earth Mother" and "Many Heads". In the Anangu language they are written as Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the letters with underscores indicating that they are pronounced with the tongue curled upwards and touching the upper part of the palate instead of the front part or the teeth.
Apart from these two main features the park also protects hundreds of plant species, 24 native mammal species and 72 reptile species. To protect these, off-road access away from Uluru and Kata Tjuta is not allowed.
Flights are available to Yulara. Many travellers also fly to Alice Springs and drive from there.
Hotel and hostel accommodation for a range of budgets is available in Yulara just outside the park boundary, which was essentially founded for that purpose. There is no camping permitted within the park boundaries, and there is no accommodation other than in Yulara.