Kata Tjuta, formerly known as The Olgas, is a group of large ancient rock formations approximately 30 kilometres 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.
The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta are spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres. The highest point is Mount Olga, which was named in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg.
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 around 500 million years old.
Kata Tjuta is a Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe word meaning 'many heads'. There are many Pitjantjatjara legends associated with Kata Tjuta. One legend tells the story of the great snake king Wanambi who is said to live on the summit of Mount Olga and only come 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.
The ochre-coloured shapes are an intriguing and mesmerising sight which some travellers find even more captivating than Uluru. You can choose from a number of walking trails that range from easy strolls to longer, more difficult tracks. The Kata Tjuta dune viewing and sunset viewing areas offer magnificent panoramic views of the domes and are relaxing places to sit and absorb the ever-changing landscape. At sunset and sunset it is awe-inspiring as the domes appear to glow and turn deep shade of red.
The 2.6 kilometre Walpa Gorge walk is the shorter and easier of the two walks around Kata Tjuta. The longest trail at Kata Tjuta is the 7 kilometre Valley of the Winds Walk. It is very steep in places, but the circuit is worth the effort. This walk will lead you between the domes, through creek beds and to the Karu and Karingana lookouts. The entire circuit takes approximately four hours. The walk is best during the early morning hours, before the large crowds arrive, and when the wildlife is more active. The walk is closed when temperatures reach 36C, which is very common in summer (December – February).
Visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre first to learn more about the ancestral beings and significance of the walks. You can then begin your walks with a deeper understanding. Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for both its natural and cultural values.
Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park is located approximately 365 kilometres or a four and a half hour drive southwest of Alice Springs. Many visitors choose to explore Australia’s outback at their own pace by driving the Northern Territory’s famous Red Centre Way. This gives you a chance to explore Uluru, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs.