Uluru – The heart of the great red centre of Australia
Uluru is probably Australia’s most recognisable natural landmark. The sandstone formation is 348 m (1,142 ft) high, 863 m (2,831 ft) above sea level, has most of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 9.4 km. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the biggest monolith in the world; Mount Augustus in Western Australia holds that title.
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta park, formerly called Uluru (Ayers Rock – Mount Olga) National Park, features spectacular geological formations that dominate the vast red sandy plain of central Australia. Uluru, an immense monolith, and Kata Tjuta, the rock domes located 25 km to the west of Uluru, form part of the traditional belief system of one of the oldest human societies on earth. Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the owners and traditional inhabitants of the area.
In 1873, the surveyor William Gosse named the monolith Ayers Rock in honour of the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. In 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names that consist of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name. In December 1993, it was renamed “Ayers Rock / Uluru”. However, the order of the dual names was officially reversed to “Uluru / Ayers Rock” in November 2002.
Uluru is famous for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset. Special viewing areas with road access and parking have been constructed to give tourists the best views of both sites at dawn and dusk.
There are twenty-two native mammals found in the park, including red kangaroo, common marsupial mole, hopping mouse, several bat species including Australian false vampire, bilgy, occasional short-nosed echidna, several small marsupials and native rodents, and, of course, dingos.
In August 1980, Lindy Chamberlain, whilst on a camping trip at Uluru with her family, claimed that a dingo had stolen her baby daughter, Azaria, from the family tent. Azaria’s body was never found, and when police claimed there were some apparent inconsistencies in Lindy’s story, she was charged with murder. At the time, the case attracted a lot of attention, turning an investigation into a media circus with little chance of an unbiased trial. In 1982, Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty and received a mandatory life sentence. Despite being exonerated by the royal commission in 1987, it took until 2012 for a coronary ruling declaring that Azaria had indeed been killed by a dingo. This sensational case has been dramatised for television, film and stage, and even been turned into an opera.
Today, I’ll leave you with some Aboriginal meditation music.
Thanks for calling by, and if you want to see what others are doing for ‘U is for -‘ today, check out some of the other great blogs on the A to Z Challenge
Join me again tomorrow for a look at ‘V’. Until then, happy reading.