|List||World Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Declared property (17/12/1994)|
|Place File No||7/09/008/0001|
|Statement of Significance|
National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in two stages, initially
for its outstanding universal natural values and then for its outstanding
universal cultural values:
The huge rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta are remarkable geological and landform features set in a contrasting, relatively flat, sand-plain environment. They are a part of an important cultural landscape and have special significance to Anangu. The features of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are physical evidence of the actions, artefacts and bodies of the ancestral heroes (the tjukuritja) who travelled the earth in creation times. The travels of these ancestral heroes are celebrated in Anangu religion and culture today.
The wider landscape of the park also contains evidence of the travels of Anangu ancestors and represents the outcome of thousands of years of management under traditional practices governed by the tjukurpa (law). Aboriginal people learned how to patch burn the country from the Tjukurpa of lungkata, the blue tongued lizard. Now, although modern methods are used, the practice of lighting small fires close together during the cool season leaves burnt and unburnt areas in a pattern like a mosaic.This knowledge is now adopted as a major ecological management tool in the Park. Tjukurpa also teaches about the location and care of rockholes and other water sources.
Anthropologists say that a unique cultural adaptation to the desert environment enabled Anangu and related groups of Aboriginal communities in the Western Desert to develop social groups that were based on semi-permanent water sources, but which held reciprocal rights of access over plants and animal resources in the intervening areas.
Uluru is a huge, rounded, red sandstone monolith 9.4 kilometres in circumference rising to a height of over 340 metres above the plain. Rock art in the caves around its base are further evidence of the enduring cultural traditions of Anangu.
About 32 kilometres to the west of Uluru lie the 36 steep-sided domes of Kata Tjuta. The domes cover an area of 3 500 hectares with Mount Olga, the highest feature, rising to a height of 500 metres. This area is sacred under Anangu men's law and, as such, detailed knowledge of it is restricted.
The predominantly sandy landscape is dominated by spinifex and low shrubs on sand dunes and sand plains dotted with large desert oaks. Sizeable areas of mulga woodland and other low shrubs also occur on dunes and swales. The alluvial flow areas at the very base of the major rock formations support large bloodwoods, acacias and native grasses. Water holes and soaks provide restricted habitats for a number of rare and unique plant species. Larger stands of mulga and other acacias dominate the harder, wide, sand plain surrounding Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Over 150 species of birds, and many reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates adapted to arid environments have also been recorded.
A number of rare mammals are also found in the park, including the hairy-footed dunnart, the sandhill dunnart and the mulgara.
Reptile species are found in numbers unparalleled anywhere else in the world and are well adapted to the arid environment. A number of lizard species are found in the park, including the rare giant desert skink and Australia's largest lizard, the perentie, which may grow to a length of 2.5 metres.
The inalienable freehold title to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was handed back to the traditional owners in 1985 and is held by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Aboriginal Land Trust. The Park was then leased back to the Director of National Parks and Wildlife. The Park is jointly managed under direction of a Board of Management that includes a majority of Anangu traditional owners.
Situated on the southern margin of the major Amadeus sedimentary basin, the park comprises extensive sand plains, dunes and alluvial desert, punctuated by the Uluru monolith Kata Tjuta, some 32km to the west. Uluru is composed of steeply dipping, feldspar rich sandstone arkose and has been exposed as a result of folding, faulting, the erosion of surrounding rock and infill. The monolith has a base circumference of 9.4km, smooth sloping sides of up to 80 degrees gradient and a relatively flat top. Major surface features of the rock include: sheet erosion with layers 1-3m thick, parallel to the existing surface, breaking away; deep parallel fissures which extend from the top and down the sides of the monolith; and a number of caves, inlets and overhangs at the base formed by chemical degradation and sand blast erosion. Kata Tjuta, covering about 3500ha, comprises 36 steep-sided rock domes of gently dipping Mount Currie conglomerate consisting of phenocrysts of fine grained acid and basic rocks, granite and gneiss in an epidote rich matrix. Kata Tjuta tends to have hemispherical summits, near vertical sides, steep-sided intervening valleys and has been exposed by the same process as Uluru. Lithosols, gravelly red earths, red earthy sands and calcareous red earth soils are derived from weathered Mount Currie conglomerate, and found as isolated pockets on scree slopes and alluvial fans. Gently sloping sand plains of medium textured red earths, sandy loams and red earth sands are separated from dune formations of red siliceous sand and red earth sands by a transitional zone comprising largely very coarse siliceous sand. Dunes up to 30m high are characterised by mobile crests, vegetated flanks and swales rilled and gullied by water; these, and the sand plains occupy the bulk of the park. Surface water is largely restricted to seasonal pools fed by short shallow water courses from the monolith. Defined water courses do not exist in the dune formations, although swales are moister and ponding may occasionally occur. Two aquifers have been located which could supply approximately 870,000 cubic metres of water per annum (ANPWS, 1982; 1986a).
The park experiences two significant seasons: an April to October winter and November to March summer. Mean daily minimum and maximum temperatures are 4 degrees C and 20 degrees C respectively in winter and 22 degrees C and 38 degrees C in summer. Absolute temperatures range between -5 degrees C and 44 degrees C and frosts are not unusual in June, July and August. Annual rainfall is highly variable, with 140mm in 1970 and 935mm in 1974. Mean annual rainfall from 1969 was 310mm, although this figure probably reflects an unusually wet period. Peak rainfall occurs during winter, whilst mean peak humidity, at about 67%, occurs in June-July. Prevailing winds blow from south-east to north-east in summer and north-east to south-west in winter (ANPWS, 1982).
The vegetation, modified by substrate stability, climate and fire can be grouped into five major categories, arranged concentrically around the monolith formations. First, Uluru supports hardy perennial grass Cymbopogon spp. and Tripogon spp. in soil pockets, and sedge Cyperus spp. and Fymbristylis sp. on very shallow soil. Patches of Acacia spp., spinifex Triodia spp., and isolated Ficus platypoda and Eucalyptus terminalis are also found. Spinifex grass Triodia irritans forms almost pure stands on the Kata Tjuta, whilst on the less steep slopes Acacia spp., Cassia spp. and Hakea spp. also occur. Scree slopes support low trees Eucalyptusspp., acacia and many other shrub species. Dense patches of perennial grass Eriachne scleranthoides dominate the areas immediately around the base of rock outcrops whilst grass and sedge are dominant on the fringing shallow soils. Second, the Kata Tjuta foothills which support annual grasses, principally mulga grass Aristida contorta and oat grass Enneapogon polyphyllus, some low Acacia aneura, and shrubs Cassia spp. and Ptilotus spp.. Eucalyptus spp., shrubs and perennial grasses are found in drainage courses. Third, the fans and outwash alluviums around the monoliths support a complex of open grassland, low trees and shrubs. Species include bloodwood Eucalyptus terminalis, tea-tree Melaleuca sp., acacia, lamb's tails Ptilotus sp., shrubs and grasses Themeda avenacea, Enneapogon cylindricus and Eragrostis eriopoda. During rainy periods this vegetation can be luxuriant. Fourth, the plains area support dense groves of mulga, acacia, native fuschia Eremophila spp. with perennial grass understorey Eragrostis eriopoda; the intergrove areas, however, are sparsely vegetated. Fifth, the sand dunes, rises and plains are dominated by spinifex grass Triodia pungens, open scrub of Eucalyptus gamophylla, Acacia kempeana, broom bush Templetonia hookeri with occasional desert oaks Allocasuarina decaisneana in moister locations. Species which are in danger of being lost from the park include: Wurmbea centralis, Juncus continuus, Gossypium sturtianum, Rulingia magniflora, Hibbertia glabberrima, Baeckea polystemona and Plectranthus intraterraneus. Exotic species, for example Rumex vesicarius and Mossman River grass Cenchrus echinatus, have become established (ANPWS, 1982; 1986a).
Twenty two native mammals are found in the park including dingo Canis familiaris dingo, red kangaroo Macropus rufus, common wallaroo M. robustus, marsupial mole Notoryctes typhlops, spinifex hopping mouse Notomys alexis, several bat species including Australian false vampire Marcoderma gigas (V), bilby Macrotis lagotis (E), occasional short nosed echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus and several small marsupials and native rodents. However, rufous hare-wallaby Lagorchestes hirsutus (R), burrowing bettong Bettongia lesueur (R) and common brush-tail possum Trichosurus vulpecula have been eradicated in the past 80 years although reintroduction is being considered (ANPWS, 1986b). Introduced red fox Vulpes vulpes, cat Felis catus, house mouse Mus musculus and European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, in addition to feral dogs and camels, compete with indigenous species. More than 150 bird species have been recorded in the park, of which 66 are considered resident. These include parrots, wrens, thornbills and raptors such as peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus. All five Australian reptile families are represented and species include monitor lizard Varanus giganteus, thorny devil lizard Moloch horridus, western brown snake Pseudonaja nuchalis, Ramsay's python Aspidites ramsayi and numerous others. Aestivating amphibians such as water-holding frogs Cyclorana cultripes and C. platycephalus are found. Invertebrates are poorly known but include fairy shrimp Imnadopsis sp. and shield shrimp Triops australiensis, which exploit seasonal rock pools (ANPWS 1982; 1986a).
The Anangu experience over the past 120 years resonates
strongly with the post-contact experiences of many Aboriginal Australians. The
first European to sight Uluru was the explorer William Gosse in 1873. He named it
Ayers Rock after the Chief Secretary of South Australia. The year before,
Ernest Giles had named Kata Tjuta the Olgas, after Queen Olga of Wertemberg.
Until the 1930s the majority of European visitors to the area were surveyors,
government officials and men involved in the Dingo-scalp trade. In 1920, the
Uluru area was included in an extensive reserve for Anangu people. Despite
encouragement to take on European and Christian values Anangu maintained a
strong connection to the Uluru - Kata Tjuta area and the belief system it
embodies (Layton 1986). |
Tourists began visiting the area from the 1930s and in 1958 it was excised from the Anangu reserve and declared a national park. Legendary bushman Bill Harney was appointed the park's first ranger in 1957. Harney was aware of the anxiety that the tourist trade caused many Anangu and he ensured that certain parts of the park were respected and left untouched. Following Harney's departure, relations between park management and Anangu became severely strained. Tourists entered sites that are restricted by TJUKURPA and Aboriginal people were discouraged from entering the park (Layton 1986).
Recognition of Anangu values began to develop in the mid-1970s. In 1973 a parliamentary inquiry recommended the relocation of tourist facilities outside the park's boundary. The Mutitjulu Community won a land rights claim for all the crown land surrounding the national park in 1979 and in 1985 they gained freehold title over the park (Kerle 1995). Anangu leased the park back to the Australian Government for a period of 99 years and it is now jointly managed by Traditional Owners and Parks Australia (part of the Department of Environment and Heritage) (DEST 1994).
In 1985, traditional burning practices, discouraged since European colonisation, were reintroduced because scientists recognised that these practices were essential for maintaining the desert ecosystem (DEST 1994).
Uluru - Kata Tjuta is one of the most aesthetically spectacular places on earth and is regarded as one of the natural wonders of the world. The park is visited by millions of people, numbers currently averaging over 350 000 per year. The visitors' experience of the Park is greatly enhanced by the guided tours and traditional knowledge they receive from Anangu
|Condition and Integrity Not Available|
About 132 566 hectares, 335km south-west of Alice Springs
and 3km south of Yulara.|
Baker, L (1996) Minkiri. A Natural History of Uluru by the Mutitjulu Community, IAD Press, Alice
Breeden, S (1994) Uluru . Looking After Uluru-Kata Tjuta the Anangu Way, Simon and Shuster, Sydney.
Davis, B.W. and Drake, G.A. (1983) in Australia's Biosphere Reserves; Conserving Ecological Diversity, Australian National Commission for UNESCO AGPS, Canberra.
Layton, R. (1986) Uluru: an Aboriginal History of Ayers Rock, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.
Reid, J.R.W. Kerle, J.A. and Morton, S.R. (1990) Uluru Fauna The Distribution and Abundance of Vertebrate Fauna of Uluru (Ayers Rock-Mount 0lga) National Park, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.
Report Produced Tue Dec 10 06:38:46 2013