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What Are the Kata Tjuta?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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The Kata Tjuta are a series of unusual rock formations in Australia. They have been treated as a sacred site by the Pitjantjatjara Aborigines for thousands of years, and they continue to be used for the purpose of sacred ceremonies and other events. The Pitjantjatjara, who refer to themselves as the Anangu, are the custodians of the Kata Tjuta and neighboring Uluru, another sacred site. Both sites are of interest to visitors to Australia, who often make time to see them.

The highest formation in the Kata Tjuta is Mount Olga, and the rock formations are also known as The Olgas. By convention, many people use a dual name, Kata Tjuta/Mount Olga, recognizing the European name for the formation while also honoring the Aboriginal name. These formations are roughly dome-shaped, and made from sedimentary rock with a high concentration of sandstone. There are 36 domes, spread out across the environment of the Australian desert.

The Kata Tjuta are quite remarkable to look at, both overhead and from the ground. The name "Kata Tjuta" means "many heads," a reference to the unusual appearance of these rock formations. The Anangu who take care of the Kata Tjuta and Uluru/Ayer's Rock have been designated the custodians of these sites in a desire to respect Aboriginal heritage and beliefs, and because their extensive connection with the site makes them a natural choice for guardians.

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Visitors to Australia who are interested in seeing this sight can book tours, or travel by private car. The Australian desert can be a difficult environment to get around in, and it's important for visitors to be adequately prepared if traveling by car. Travelers should carry ample supplies of water, including reserve supplies in case the car breaks down or there is a problem.

Visitors should also be aware that the Kata Tjuta and Uluru are both sacred sites in addition to tourist attractions, and they should comply with signage in the area and treat these sites with respect. Much as one would not treat a priest rudely when visiting a church or dress inappropriately for a visit to a Buddhist temple in Thailand, visitors should treat the Anangu and their religious sites with respect so that members of the public can continue to enjoy them. Certain areas may be closed to the public for religious reasons, and at times, access to the Kata Tjuta may be restricted so that people can conduct religious ceremonies in a controlled environment.

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Discuss this Article

Azuza
Post 5

@JaneAir - That is good advice. Since we are so industrialized I think we often forget that nature can be dangerous too.

I for one am really glad the Anangu are the custodians of this site. It sounds like they are the best qualified. Also since the site is important to their religion they should definitely be the ones who maintain it.

JaneAir
Post 4

I would like to second what the article said about bringing enough water and planning ahead. A friend of mine lives in Australia and she told me it's a fairly dangerous country.

Not crime wise, but nature wise. They have a bunch of poisonous animals, especially in the desert. If you're going to take a trip to see the Kata Tjuta I would suggest reading up on the wildlife in Australia so you don't make any silly mistakes and get hurt!

yumdelish
Post 3

My nephew just finished a project called 'Ayers Rock: Things to Do in the Area'. He found this information really helpful, so thanks Wisegeek!

Having been the person he practiced the class presentation on I'm overloaded with facts and figures. It's fascinating to learn more about the ceremonies that were held there in the past.

I would really like to visit Kata Tjuta national park sometime soon. I think a trip there would be a nice reward for my nephew when he graduates elementary school.

Acracadabra
Post 2

@Windchime - You are going to have a wonderful trip, especially as Kata Tjuta is a national treasure.

In terms of the weather, the thing to remember is that the summer is crazy hot. You may find that Kata Tjuta tours are limited during the day when the sun is at its hottest.

I booked a walking tour and we had to start really early to be safe. If you decide to travel at the height of summer, book this kind of tour well ahead of time.

Windchime
Post 1

I'm planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand next year sometime. I'm actually pretty flexible with dates, so if anyone has a suggestion for the best time of year to go see the Uluru and Kata Tjuta sites that would be great.

Driving around the area doesn't really appeal so I will probably book a tour. The thing that makes me nervous about that is how much you actually get to see.

When I went to Vietnam I did a couple of organised one day tours, but they weren't really value for money. I don't want to be in a situation where you hardly see anything or don't get to spend quality time there.

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