One of the world’s largest monoliths, Ayers Rock is also one of Australia’s iconic landmarks. Located within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park of the Northern Territory, this large sandstone formation stands more than 1,100 feet (340 meters) high with a circumference of five miles (9 km). The local Aboriginal tribe, known as Anangu, call the rock Uluru and regard it as a sacred site.
Steeped in Aboriginal legends, the rock formation features caves containing ancient carvings and paintings. The area around Ayers Rock is home to a number of species of wildlife including rabbits, lizards, emus, bush turkeys, red kangaroo and the Woma python. Also located within the same national park, the Cultural Centre offers local art works and souvenirs in addition to exhibits about the history, myths, legends and culture surrounding Ayers Rock.
One of the rock’s peculiarities is that it changes colors dramatically with its normally terracotta hue gradually changing to blue or violet at sunset to flaming red in the mornings as the sunrises behind it.
Although climbing Ayers Rock is permitted and popular among many tourists, this activity is sometimes forbidden during times of bad weather and when the local indigenous tribe performs traditional ceremonies and rituals. While there are walking tracks around the landmark, camel and helicopter tours are also available. Ayers Rock can be accessed by way of cars rented at the airport in the resort town of Yulara or by bus tours. Ayers Rock is 270 miles (450 km) west of Alice Springs.