By Stephanie Williams
Kata Tjuta is a group of large, ancient rock formations about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) away from Uluru in Australia's Red Centre. Together, these giant stone formations form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta is made up of 36 domes spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres (12.4 miles). The highest point is Mount Olga, named in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg by the explorer Ernest Giles.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is jointly managed by its Anangu traditional owners and Parks Australia. Kata Tjuta is sacred to the Anangu people, who have inhabited the area for more than 22,000 years. The sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta are believed to be about 500 million years old.
Kata Tjuta is a Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal word meaning "many heads". There are many Pitjantjatjara legends associated with Kata Tjuta. One tells the story of the great snake king Wanambi who is said to live on the summit of Mount Olga and only comes down during the dry season. Kata Tjuta is a sacred site for men in the Anangu Aboriginal culture and many of the legends surrounding the site are kept secret.
HOW TO GET THERE
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is about 450 kilometres (280 miles), or a 4 1/2 hour drive, south-west of Alice Springs. Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly to Ayers Rock Airport direct from Sydney. Qantas has direct flights to Alice Springs from major cities in Australia. Virgin offers direct flights to Alice Springs from Adelaide and Darwin. A major sealed highway connects Alice Springs with Darwin and Adelaide; it’s about a 16 hour drive from Alice Springs to either city. Some popular 4WD routes through deserts link Alice Springs to the Kimberley region and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. The Ghan is a comfortable and scenic train journey between Adelaide and Darwin.
- Hike around the base of Kata Tjuta on the Valley of the Winds walk
- Take a helicopter flight to appreciate the scale of the formations
- Witness sunrise or sunset over the red rocks of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park