The making of Uluru and Kata-Tjuta
The Anangu people know how Uluru and Kata Tjuta were formed. This knowledge comes from the Tjukurpa, the stories and lore that explain and govern Anangu life. But much of it, particularly about Kata Tjuta, is sacred. Geologists have their own explanations and scientific descriptions of how both landmarks were formed.
Creating the fans
550 million years ago the Peterman Ranges to the west of Kata Tjuta were taller than they are now. Rainwater flowing down the mountains eroded sand and rock and dropped it in big fan shapes on the surrounding plain. One fan had mainly water-smoothed rocks. The other fan was mainly sand. Both fans became kilometres thick.
Pressing the fans
Later, 500 million years ago, the whole area became covered in sea. Sand and mud fell to the bottom of the sea and covered the seabed, including the fans. The weight of the new seabed turned both it and the fans beneath into rock. The rocky fan became conglomerate rock. The sand fan turned into sandstone.
Folding and tilting
About 400 million years ago, the sea had disappeared and the whole of Central Australia began to be subjected to massive forces. Some rocks folded and tilted. The rocky fan tilted slightly. The sand fan tilted 90 degrees so the layers of sandstone almost stood on end.
Over the last 300 million years, the softer rocks have eroded away, leaving the parts of the old fans exposed. Kata Tjuta is a hard part of the old rocky fan. Uluru is part of the sand fan, with its beds of sandstone nearly vertical. The area around Uluru and Kata Tjuta was covered in windblown sand plains and dunes 30,000 years ago. Uluru, like Kata Tjuta, is the tip of a huge slab of rock that continues below the ground for possibly five to six kilometres.
The shaping of Uluru and Kata-Tjuta
From a distance, Uluru looks smooth and featureless. But up close its face is weather-beaten – pitted with holes and gashes, ribs, valleys and caves. To Anangu, these features are related to the journeys and actions of ancestral beings across the landscape. These creation stories, known as Tjukurpa, tell about the travels and actions of Kuniya (Woma python), Liru (poisonous snake), Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) and Lungkata (Centralian blue-tongue lizard). You may learn to see the evidence of their activities in the features of Uluru. Geologists have different explanations about how these features formed.
Some layers of akrose, the rock that makes up Uluru, are softer than others and wear away more quickly. This leaves Uluru’s characteristic parallel ribs or ridges.
Flaky red skin
Close up, much of the surface of Uluru is flaky red with grey patches. The flakes are bits of rock that are left after water and oxygen in the air have decayed minerals in the rest of the rock. The red is the rusting of the iron in the arkose and the grey is the original colour of the arkose. The unrusted grey rock may be seen inside the caves.
There are many types of caves at Uluru – those that look like honeycombs, high up on the walls, and wave-shaped caves at ground level. Perhaps they were formed by uneven flaky weathering. Small pits became bigger dimples, then hollows, then caves. Or they may have been chemically eaten away by water when the land’s surface was higher; then exposed as the land was eroded away.
Carved out by water
Water has shaped the valleys, potholes and pools of Uluru. Rainstorm after rainstorm over millions of years has sent water plummeting down the hard rock, wearing it away to form grooves and chains of potholes and plunge pools.
When the huge slab of rock that is Kata Tjuta was being folded and faulted, vertical joints or fractures cracked through the rock. Water seeped down the cracks and over millions of years the rock eroded away – grain by grain, pebble by pebble, to form valleys and gorges that split the rock slab into blocks. Curved cracks called topographic joints formed on the surface of the blocks. Weathering and erosion wore away the rocks above the cracks to produce the rounded domes we see today. Kata Tjuta, the Anangu name for the collection of domes, means “many heads”.
Longitude 131° offers a transcendent experience of discovery
Timeless and enriching, Longitude 131° overlooks the dual World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Luxury Lodges of Australia
Longitude 131° is honoured as a ‘first 15’ founding member of Luxury Lodges of Australia, a collection of luxury lodges in extraordinary Australian destinations. Learn more ››
Capella Lodge - Lord Howe Island
From desert dreaming to island luxe… Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island was the first retreat in the Baillie Lodges collection and continues to capture guests in its magic. Learn more ››
Southern Ocean Lodge - Kangaroo Island
Sojourn south to sister property Southern Ocean Lodge, the globally celebrated retreat atop the limestone cliffs of Kangaroo Island. Learn more ››
Table 131° - Exclusive to Longitude 131°
The evening offers up an experience to last a lifetime, exclusive to Longitude 131° guests. Enjoy contemporary cuisine under the spectacular desert night sky, where dinner is served with the finest wines under a glittering canopy of stars… Learn more ››
Did you know...
Uluru is 348 metres at its tallest point: 43 metres higher than Sydney Tower, 24 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower, and just 33 metres lower than the Empire State Building.
Baillie Lodges Newsletter
Read the latest in luxe_essential*, Baillie Lodges’ newsletter and a roundup of news and events at Capella Lodge, Longitude 131° and Southern Ocean Lodge. Learn more ››
Classic Uluru Rates
Classic Uluru rates offer a discount bonus when staying three nights or more, from $3,780 per person twin share. Come walkabout. Learn more ››
Longitude 131° Video
Relaxed luxury. Exclusive experiences. Authentic Australia. To see what else Longitude 131° has to offer, watch our short film. Lodge Video ››
Field of Light Transforms the Desert Landscape
Artist Bruce Munro’s internationally acclaimed solar installation, Field of Light, has arrived at Uluru. Learn more about the global phenomenon and how Longitude 131° guests experience the interactive artwork here…
Stay four nights or more on Classic Uluru rates and benefit from platinum privileges. Explore the outback icons from above with a complimentary 15 minute scenic helicopter flight and enjoy a private dining experience for two on the dunetop. Outback luxe! Learn more ›
A Partnership Set in Stone
Longitude 131° is excited to be part of a new partnership with Ernabella Arts Inc, Australia’s oldest indigenous arts centre, which will see funding for an education program for its artists and residents as well as operational support over the next two years. Learn more on the blog, here ›