Need to know: 5 myths about Uluru
Think visiting Uluru is going to be eye-wateringly expensive or spooked with curses? Think again. We bust the most common misconceptions about Australia’s most iconic monolith.
- October 2018
- Updated December 2020
Myth 1: Uluru is the biggest rock in the world
The honour of the world’s largest monolith falls to Mount Augustus in Western Australia – it’s two-and-a-half times larger. But what Uluru lacks in size, it makes up for in personality. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, whether it’s sunrise camel tours, scenic helicopter rides or hot air balloon adventures.
Myth 2: Uluru is cursed
While stories abound of bad luck following those who take pebbles, rocks, sand and twigs from Uluru – many tourists end up posting back items with an apology note – the Anangu (the oldest living culture known to man and the traditional owners of Uluru) reject the idea of a specific curse. That isn’t to say pocketing such souvenirs isn’t without consequence – under Australian law, it comes in the form of a hefty fine.
Myth 3: It only has one season - HOT
Picturing a wardrobe full of sun-beaten Akubra hats and sweat-drenched singlets? If you’re visiting Uluru, you may want to pack the odd coat and scarf as well, because although the temperature can (and will) climb to 45°C in summer, it’s also known to drop below zero on winter nights. In 1997, Uluru even experienced snow.
Myth 4: You need at least a week up your sleeve
Forget about rattling along endless dirt tracks in souped-up four-wheel drives. Not only are the roads well maintained and built for all sorts of cars, the attractions are fairly close together, flights are direct and tour operators offer one- to three-day "best of" trips that allow you to pack it all into one unforgettable weekend.
Myth 5: Gourmands need not apply
No outback trip is complete without the odd goanna goulash or roo tail pie but the Red Centre is also home to some of Australia’s most extraordinary dining experiences – from native bush tucker tours to dining under a canopy of stars as part of the Tali Wiru experience.
Myth 6: Uluru is hard on the wallet
One of the conditions of the privatisation of Ayers Rock Resort in 1997 was that it would cater for travellers across every budget. There is now a range of accommodation available, from camping grounds to self-catering apartments. There is also a free shuttle bus from the hotels to the visitors’ centre and fun, free activities such as guided walks.
Myth 7: Climbing Uluru is illegal
The ban preventing people from climbing Uluru doesn’t kick in until October 2019 so, technically, it’s still not a crime. However, it is worth remembering that the rock is culturally significant and as such, the local Anangu people request that visitors respect their wishes and avoid climbing altogether.
The rock changes colour
Whether it’s a vibrant red at dawn and sunset or rusty orange in the middle of the day, Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour around the clock. But it has nothing to do with the rock’s geological make-up – it’s a trick the sun’s rays play with the environment. You might be surprised to discover the rock isn’t actually red, but grey, with the process of oxidation giving the outer surface layer its distinctive rusty hue.
Photography is not allowed in some areas
While taking photos from afar is fine, visitors are discouraged from capturing certain sacred areas located around the base of the rock, due to Anangu cultural beliefs. Keep your eyes peeled for appropriate signage.
The name Ayers Rock is still recognised
Uluru might have only been “discovered” by Europeans in the 1800s – and named Ayers Rock in honour of then-chief secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers – but we should remember that long before that, Uluru was considered sacred by the Anangu people. They believe this area was formed by ancient beings of the creation period. The registered name was changed to recognise its Aboriginal name, Uluru, in 1993 – eight years after the Australian government officially returned ownership of Uluru to the Anangu people. Today, both names are still recognised, although Uluru is preferred.