Uluru is one of the world’s most iconic landscapes and is deeply sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu people. With a circumference of 9.4 kilometres (5.8 miles) and height of 348 metres, this amazing formation is higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Chrysler Building in New York, and boasts an abundance of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient rock paintings up to 5,000 years old. Uluru is composed of a type of rock called arkose (a type of sandstone characterized by an abundance of feldspar).
Geologists believe the formation of Uluru began about 550 million years ago, when rainwater flowed down from surrounding mountains, eroding sand and dropping it in big fan shapes. Then 500 million years ago, this whole area became covered by the sea, with the weight of the seabed turning the ‘fans’ into rock. The sea subsided some 100 million years later and Uluru tilted 90 degrees due to tectonic activity. Since then erosion of softer rocks has occurred leaving the remarkable landscape we see today.
The area is an important habitat for species such as the Red Kangaroo, Black Breasted Buzzards, Brown Falcons, Crested Bellbird, Thorny Devils, Central Netted Dragons and Blue-tongued Lizards.
Just east of Uluru is a group of 36 large domed rock formations named Kata Tjuta. This remarkable landscape was formed in a similar manner to Uluru, except the fans were composed of conglomerate rocks of varying types including granite and basalt, rather than sand like Uluru. The highest dome of the group rises to an extraordinary 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain, approximately the same height as new One World Trade Centre in New York.
The major canyons and valleys between the dome rocks is a result of major folding and faulting events and chemical weathering. The surrounding landscape is largely flat and undulating sandplains, dunes and mulga woodlands. Around the rocks, Common Wallaroos, Dingos, Wedge-tailed Eagles and Nankeen Kestrels can be seen, whilst the mulgas provide habitat for Crested Pigeons, honeyeaters, Zebra Finches and Budgerigars.
Located on the privately owned Curtin Springs Station, Mt Conner is a horseshoe-shaped mesa reaching a height of 300 metres (984 feet). The sediments that formed this landmark were deposited in a shallow sea much earlier than those of Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the rock strata has not been subject to tilting as per the other two icons. The rocks have outcropping quartzite forming the top area, with two layers underneath consisting of different sandstones.
The rocky gorges support a population of Black-footed Rock Wallaby whilst surrounding mulga and spinifex plains provide habitat Red Kangaroos, Brown Falcons, Brown Goshawks, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Mulga Parrots and numerous reptiles including the iconic Thorny Devil.