Australia’s most famous natural landmark has two names – Uluru and Ayers Rock. So which one is correct? The rock was called Uluru a long time before Europeans arrived in Australia. The word is a proper noun from the ”Pitjantjatjara” language and doesn’t have an English translation. In 1873, the explorer William Gosse became the first non-Aboriginal person to see Uluru. He named it Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time. Ayers Rock was the most widely used name until 1993, when the rock was officially renamed Ayers Rock / Uluru – the first feature in the Northern Territory to be given dual names. In 2002 these names were reversed at the request of the Regional Tourism Association in Alice Springs and the rock took on the official name of Uluru / Ayers Rock, which it still has today.

Uluru is an inselberg, meaning “island mountain”. An inselberg is a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region. Uluru is also often referred to as a monolith, although this is an ambiguous term that is generally avoided by geologists. The remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival, while the surrounding rocks were eroded. For the purpose of mapping and describing the geological history of the area, geologists refer to the rock strata making up Uluru as the Mutitjulu Arkose, and it is one of many sedimentary formations filling the Amadeus Basin.

Uluru / Ayers Rock, a giant monolith, one of the Torres (isolated rocks) in the south-western Northern Territory of central Australia. It has long been revered by various Australians in the region, who call it Uluru. The rock was first seen by explorer Ernest Giles in 1872 and was first inspected by a European the following year, when surveyor William Goss named it after Sir Henry Ayers, the former premier of South Australia. It is the largest monolith in the world. (Mount Augustus [Buringura] in Western Australia is often identified as the largest monolith in the world, but because it is composed of multiple rock types, it is not technically a monolith.)

Uluru / Ayers Rock rises 1,142 feet (348 m) above the surrounding desert plains and reaches 2,831 feet (863 m) above sea level. The monolith is oval, 2.2 miles (3.6 km) long and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide, with a circumference of 5.8 miles (9.4 km). Formed by arachnid sandstone, with a high proportion of feldspar, the rock changes color according to the position of the sun; It is most visible at sunset, when it is a bright orange-red color by the sun’s rays. The slopes beneath it have been turned into flutes by weak rock erosion, while at the top there are molten and basins that form huge cataracts after rare rain storms. The shallow caves at the base of the rock are sacred to a number of indigenous tribes and contain carvings and paintings.