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Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, Lasseter Hwy, Yulara, NT, Australia

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List World Heritage List
Class Natural
Legal Status Declared property (17/12/1994)
Place ID 105040
Place File No 7/09/008/0001
Statement of Significance
For the official statement of Outstanding Universal Value see the UNESCO site
Official Values
Criterion (V) Outstanding example of traditional settlement
Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park is an outstanding example of the traditional human settlement and land-use known as hunting and gathering. Relatively few contemporary hunting and gathering cultures now exist throughout the world. The World Heritage values include
the continuing cultural landscape of the Anangu Tjukurpa that constitutes the landscape of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and which:
·       is an outstanding example of a traditional human type of settlement and land-use, namely hunting and gathering, that dominated the entire Australian continent up to modern times;
·       shows the interactions between humans and their environment;
·       is in large part the outcome of millenia of management using traditional Anangu methods governed by the Tjukurpa;
·       is one of relatively few places in Australia where landscapes are actively managed by Aboriginal communities on a substantial scale using traditional practices and knowledge that include:
- particular types of social organisation, ceremonies and rituals which form an adaptation to the fragile and unpredictable ecosystems of the arid landscape;
- detailed systems of ecological knowledge that closely parallel, yet differ from, the Western scientific classification; and
- management techniques to conserve biodiversity such as the use of fire and the creation and maintenance of water sources such as wells and rock holes.
Criterion (VI) Directly associated with events or living traditions
Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park is directly and tangibly associated with events, living traditions, ideas and beliefs of outstanding universal significance. The World Heritage values include:
- the continuing cultural landscape of Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park which is imbued with the values of creative powers of cultural history through the Tjukurpa and the phenomenon of sacred sites;
- the associated powerful religious, artistic and cultural qualities of this cultural landscape; and
- the network of ancestral tracks established during the Tjukurpa in which Uluru and Kata Tjuta are meeting points.
Criterion (VII) Contains superlative natural phenomena
The huge monoliths of Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, including one of the largest in the world, which are set in a contrasting sand plain environment provide a landscape of exceptional natural beauty and scenic grandeur. The World Heritage values include:
- the remarkable and unique natural geological and landform features formed by the huge monoliths of Uluru and Kata Tjuta set in a contrasting sand plain environment;
- the immense size and structural integrity of Uluru which is emphasised by its sheer, steep sides rising abruptly from the surrounding plain;
- the relative simplicity of the monolith of Uluru and its contrasts with the many domes of Kata Tjuta; and
- the exceptional natural beauty of the viewfields in which the contrasts and the scenic grandeur of the monoliths create a landscape of outstanding beauty of symbolic importance to both Anangu and European cultures.
Criterion (VIII) Outstanding examples of stages of earth's history
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park includes the monoliths of Uluru and Kata Tjuta which are exceptional examples of tectonic, geochemical and geomorphic processes. The World Heritage values include:
- Uluru, one of the largest monoliths in the world, which is affected by erosional processes including sheeting of rock parallel to the surface and granular disintegration known as cavernous weathering;
- tectonic, geochemical and geomorphic processes associated with the inselbergs of Uluru and Kata Tjuta which result in the different composition of these two relatively close outcroppings, their different extent of block tilting and types of erosion, the spalling of the arkose sediments of Uluru and massive ‘off loading’ of conglomerate at Kata Tjuta.
Physical features
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 Springs.
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  Thu Aug 21 22:51:52 2014