Without a doubt the most iconic geological wonder in Australia is Uluru. The giant monolith, previously named Ayers Rock is located in the outback of central Australia and is the second largest in the world, only exceeded by Western Australia’s Burringurrah (Mount Augustus).
Uluru is huge – covering 3.3 square kilometres of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, rising 348 metres above the dessert plains and reaching a height 863 metres above sea level as the bulk of the rock lies underground. In fact, Uluru originally sat in an inland sea approximately 500 million years ago which is close to the time when the continent of Australia was formed.
How Uluru came to be
If you’re wondering how this ancient oval shaped structure actually formed, it all began when Uluru was underwater. Two fan shapes developed, Uluru made of sand and Kata Tjuta made from conglomerate rock. The pressure caused by the shifting of tectonic plates led the fans to condense into rock. Uluru as it stands today emerged when Australia dried up and sea where Uluru stood became land.
What type of sandstone is Uluru made of?
This magnificent rock is made of a type of coarse-grained sandstone known as arkose, which is rich in a particular mineral called Feldspar. The arkose formed as a result of sandy sediment hardening which had eroded from high, primarily granite-based mountains.
Uluru’s striking red colour is attributed to the rusting or oxidisation of the iron-bearing minerals inside the rock as it has stood for centuries exposed to the elements of the desert. Depending on the sun’s position, the warms tones of Uluru change in intensity. At sunset, the rock is at its most spectacular, turning a fiery orange-red from the rays of the sun. The iconic formation is UNESCO World Heritage Listed and one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions.
Uluru’s Significance in Aboriginal Culture
Uluru is much more than simply a rock in the middle of the desert. To the traditional guardians and owners of the land upon which it stands – the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park – it is considered sacred. Uluru holds strong spiritual and cultural importance to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. For more than 10,000 years Uluru and neighbouring Kata Tjuta have been the site of traditional ceremonies and rites of passage for the Anangu people. The base of the monolith even has shallow caves that are revered by many aboriginal tribes and feature various carvings and paintings. Climbing Uluru is actually not prohibited, however the Anangu people ask visitors to refrain from doing so out of respect.
If you have been inspired to utilise sandstone in your own project after reading about the truly unique structure that is Uluru, we recommend contacting our friendly team at the location closest to you. Call, email, fill in the enquiry form on the Gosford Quarries website or even visit one of our showrooms in Sydney, the Central Coast, Victoria or Queensland. We look forward to sharing our extensive knowledge about all things sandstone to help you create something special.