History of the park

Anangu culture has always existed here. Their ancestral beings created the Central Australian landscape, including Uluru and Kata Tjuta, at the beginning of time.

Before Anangu ancestors arrived, the world was unformed and featureless. Ancestral beings emerged from this void and journeyed widely, creating all living species and the features of the desert landscape you see today. Anangu are the direct descendants of these beings and are responsible for the protection and appropriate management of these ancestral lands.

Europeans did not come to the western desert area until the 1870s. Until the 1930s Anangu continued to live a traditional nomadic life - travelling in small family groups, hunting and gathering from the land, following and responding to seasonal changes and patterns, looking after the land by burning, looking after waterholes, performing ceremonies and teaching knowledge and skills to young people.

Timelines

The 1800s - Early European exploration

William Gosse

William Gosse

1862 – Explorer John McDoull Stuart completes the first return south to north crossing of Australia.

1870 – Construction of the Adelaide to Darwin Overland Telegraph Line begins, creating a series of bases including Alice Springs for exploration and pastoral expansion.

1872 – European explorers William Ernest Powell Giles, more commonly known as Ernest Giles and William Christie Gosse, come to the region.

1872 – Ernest Giles leads a party west from the line to find a route to the west coast. While at Watarrka (Kings Canyon) becomes the first European to see Kata Tjuta. Giles’ benefactor, botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, names it Mt Olga.

1873 – Giles and William Gosse lead separate parties to the region. On 19 July 1873 Gosse becomes the first European to reach Uluru, naming it Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary of South Australia. In the same year Giles becomes the first European to climb the rock, accompanied by an Afghan camel driver named Khamran.

Late 1870s – Further explorations occur to see if it is suitable for pastoralists. It is concluded the area is unsuitable for agriculture. Only a few Europeans such as mineral prospectors, surveyors and scientists venture into the region in the coming decades.

1894 – The Horn Expedition, financed by wealthy South Australian businessman and pastoralist WA Horn, explores the geology, mineral resources, plants and animals of the region.

Ernest Giles' map of his exploration, including Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Did you know?

What’s in a name?

Ernest Giles (1835-1897) wanted to name Uluru as Mount Ferdinand and the large salt lake nearby after his benefactor, Baron Ferdinand von Mueller but the Baron had other ideas.

The Baron named Kata Tjuta Mount Olga and what would have been Lake Mueller, Lake Amadeus after the then reigning King Amadeus of Spain and Queen Olga of the Würtemberg German province.

One of Australia’s most well-known botanists, Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-1896) was first appointed to the post of government botanist in the state of Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853. In 1857 he became the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. He helped raise the money to fund Giles’ exploration.

Though some people still refer to Mount Olga and Ayers Rock, today Kata Tjuta and Uluru are officially known only by the names their traditional owners call them.

One hungry explorer

If explorer Ernest Giles had a nemesis it was Western Australia’s Gibson Desert. He found it, named it, tried to conquer it but ultimately was defeated by it.

In 1876, starving and virtually blind from scurvy while on his third expedition, he came across a small dying wallaby.

“The instant I saw it, I pounced upon it and ate it, living, raw, dying – fur, skin, bones, skull and all. The delicious flavour of that creature I shall never forget,” he wrote in his memoirs.

Giles survived his journey and lived to tell the tale, but it’s a reminder about just how dangerous and unforgiving Australia’s deserts can be.

Early 1900s – Set apart

1918 – Large adjoining areas of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory declared as Aboriginal reserves. Many senior elders used to talk about being ‘herded’ into these reserves.

1920 – The area including the land that is now part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is declared an Aboriginal reserve, commonly known as the South-Western or Petermann Reserve.

1930s – Small groups of Europeans such as missionaries, Native Welfare Patrol Officers, adventurers, miners, doggers (dog hunters) and police visit the region. Pastoralists attempt to re-establish themselves in areas adjoining the South-Western or Petermann reserve. Grazing and drought leads depleted bush foods and there’s conflict between pastoralists and Anangu competing for dwindling resources. Police patrols increase.

1930s – During the depression, some Anangu participate in dingo scalping. The ‘doggers’ introduce them to European foods and ways.

1931 – Explorer Harold Bell Lasseter searches for gold in the Petermann Ranges. Older Anangu remember their people trying to help him when he was sick.  Lasseter ultimately died searching for his reef.

1931 – Walter Gills visits Uluru by camel, widely considered to be the first ‘tourist’.

1934 – In a distressing incident, an Anangu man is pursued by police for having escaped custody. Police track the man to a cave near Mutitjulu waterhole where a policeman shoots and kills him. Two other Anangu men escape and flee the area. Many other Anangu frightened by the incident, leave to travel further west into the reserve or south-east to safer country.

Did you know?

The missionaries

Some of the few people who came to Uluru in the early part of the 20th Century were Christian missionaries, many of them Lutheran. If you visit an Anangu community today and attend a church service, it is likely to involve both Christian and traditional ceremony.

In 1928 missionary EE Kramer, guided by ‘Tiger’ Tjalkalyiri gave a Christian service south of Uluru. He was the first non-Aboriginal person to record Uluru as a sacred place. He recalled it as “the most sacred spot in all the country around (where) natives come for their ceremonies and certain sections are not allowed to Aboriginal women on the pains of sure death”.

Lasseter’s Reef

One of the great Australian mysteries remains that of Lasseter’s Reef. Harold Bell Lasseter (1880-1931) made numerous and conflicting claims that he had discovered a rich gold deposit somewhere in the deserts of central Australia, somewhere on the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

By 1930 the Great Depression was on and Lasseter had a more receptive audience for his story. He managed to raise around 50,000 pounds to fund a private expedition to find the reef.

Unfortunately his companions swiftly came to the conclusion Lasseter was not the world’s greatest guide, one of them accusing him of being a charlatan, and eventually they abandoned him. Somewhere around Hull’s Creek, Lasseter’s last two camels followed suit.

In March 1931 bushman Bob Buck found his body at Winter’s Glen and his personal effects in a cave at Hull’s Creek. His diary revealed that some traditional owners had provided food and shelter, but suffering from blindness and malnutrition he eventually succumbed and died.

Since then the tale of Lasseter’s Reef has become the most famous lost mine legend in Australia and entered into our folklore. Numerous books and films have been produced about or based on the tale.

The 1930s - Tourism begins

1936 – Hardy Adventures starts bringing tourists to Uluru.

Late 1930s – Some Anangu move off the reserve into towns and to pastoral properties due to need caused by drought. Government officials accelerate moves to ‘assimilate’ Anangu by providing government settlements, missions and ration drops.

1940 – The South-Western or Petermann Reserves is reduced in size and split in two to improve access for gold prospectors.

1940s – Moves towards permanent and substantial European settlement of the area established to support Aboriginal welfare policies of the time and promote tourism to Uluru.

1942 – Australian author and art dealer Frank Clune suggests “As Fujiyama is to Japan, so should Ayers Rock be to Australia, a sacred mountain and place of pilgrimage in the heart of our continent.”

1948 – First vehicle track to Uluru constructed.

Early 1950s – Tour bus services start up at Uluru.

1950 – The park is named Ayers Rock National Park.

1954 – Uluru described as a tourist ‘Mecca’ in the Northern Territory press.

1955 – Len Tuit starts to offer regular tours to the park, after he organised a successful visit for Sydney Knox Grammar School in 1950.

1957 – Legendary central Australian figure, Bill Harney is the first ranger appointed to manage the park.

Did you know?

A boy’s own adventure

The very first recorded school group to visit Uluru was from Sydney’s Knox Grammar School in 1950. The 23 boys joined a scientific expedition that included anthropologist Charles Pearcy Mountford.

On Wednesday 13 September 1950, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on their expedition to the rock, publishing a radio message from teacher AW Briggs.

“The boys are having a grand time, and the scientific team are working like beavers,” he said.

“The entomologists have collected beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, bats, lizards and scorpions to fulfil their special assignment from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation at Canberra.

“The botany group, which has had a job commissioned to them by the National Herbarium in Sydney, have been collecting the many small flowering plants prevalent after the extraordinary wet season.

“A geology party has completed a map traverse of Ayers Rock and made a geological survey of the region. They have collected many rock and mineral specimens, and ancient native implements.”

The boys were lucky enough to witness a corroboree.

“At the corroboree last Sunday night ten natives performed chants and kangaroo dances by firelight, as part of the initiation ceremony which marked the graduation of the two boys into manhood,” Mr Briggs told the Herald.

“It was an unusual privilege for this Knox party to see this ceremony, which is secret and is not often witnessed by white people.”

Today more than 5,000 Australian school children visit Uluru each year.

Late 1950s – Tourism grows

1958 – Uluru and Kata Tjuta excised from the Petermann Aboriginal Reserve to be managed by the Northern Territory Reserves Board as the Ayers Rock-Mt Olga National Park.

1959 – First motel leases granted at the park. Eddie Connellan has constructed an airstrip close to the northern side of Uluru.

Late 1950s – Anangu are discouraged from visiting the park. But many Anangu continue to travel widely over their homelands and pursue ceremonial life, visiting kin, hunting and collecting food.

Late 1950s – Jack Cotterill establishes the first track to Kata Tjuta and founds the Kings Canyon Tours Company. He develops the first fly-in, fly-out tours with Connellan Airways in partnership with the Underdown family lodge.

1962 – There are 5,462 tourists recorded visiting the park.

1964 – Pastoral subsidies revoked, forcing large numbers of Anangu off pastoral leases. This increases the number of Anangu residing at Uluru. Tour operators applied pressure to the Native Welfare Branch to move Aboriginal people on. A government settlement at Kaltukatjara (Docker River) is established, partly to draw Anangu away from Uluru.

1966 – The ‘Wave Hill’ walk off inspires Anangu to choose to leave pastoral leases and return to Uluru.

Late 1960s – Some Anangu remain at Uluru but many traditional owners now scattered across central Australia. Anangu become more mobile with camels, donkeys and motor vehicles, returning to Uluru to sell artefacts to tourists.

Did you know?

The Wave Hill walk off – the beginnings of a movement

In August 1966, Aboriginal pastoral workers walked off the job on the vast Vesteys' cattle station at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory.

At first they expressed their unhappiness with their poor working conditions and disrespectful treatment. Conversations between stockmen who had worked for Vesteys and Dexter Daniels, the North Australian Workers' Union Aboriginal organiser, led to the initial walk off.

The next year the group moved to Wattie Creek, a place of significance to the Gurindji people. They asked Australian author Frank Hardy to 'make a sign' which included the word 'Gurindji', their own name for themselves. Their disaffection was deeper than wages and working conditions.

Although these stockmen and their families could not read, they understood the power of the white man's signs. Now their name for themselves, written on a sign, asserted a claim to Gurindji lands.

The Wave Hill walk off inspired many other peoples, including Anangu, in their fight for their land rights.

Early 1970s – The struggle for land rights

1970s – Anangu find their traditional country more accessible with roads and cars, radio communications and a network of settlements. New approaches to welfare policies that promote economic self-sufficient begin to conflict with the then park management policies.

1971 – The Office of Aboriginal Affairs holds meetings in Ernabella where Uluru’s traditional owners express their concerns about their country being under increasing pressure from mining, pastoralism and tourism.

1971 – Traditional owner Paddy Uluru voices concerns about the desecration of sacred sites by tourists. Senior Aboriginal people ask the Federal Government for help to protect these sites.

1972 – Traditional owners gather at Uluru for the first recorded ceremonies, emphasising their traditional ownership of the country.

1972 – The Ininti Store established as an Aboriginal enterprise on a lease within the park, offering supplies and services to tourists. The store becomes the centre of a permanent Anangu community at Uluru.

1973 – In July the Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation comes to Uluru to prepare a report on the park.  They meet with tourist operators and traditional owners at Mimili. Paddy Uluru tells of his desire to return to Uluru to pass on its stories to his children.

1973 – The Standing Committee’s report recommends that the park be managed by the Federal Parks and Wildlife Service. It suggests ways to involve Aboriginal people in park management. It also suggests creating a suitable living area for Anangu. A bore and camp ground are established.

1974 – The Ayers Rock Advisory Committee meets for the first time. A bore and camp ground are established for Anangu.

1976 – The historic Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 comes into force. The Act recognises Indigenous land rights and sets up processes for Aboriginal people to win back their land and manage their own resources.

1976 – The Commonwealth has acquired the leases to provide visitor accommodation inside the park, releases these to operators for a period of eight years, until a new resort outside the park can be constructed.

1976 – Wildfire burns 75 per cent of the park and invasive buffel grass is recorded in the park for the first time.

1977 – The Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock-Mt Olga) National Park is declared.

1978 – Officers of the Northern Territory’s Parks and Wildlife Service run the park. The first park ‘curator’ begins spending winters at Ayers Rock.

Did you know?

The Ininti Store

The first Aboriginal enterprise established inside the park, the Ininti Store, is still going strong today.

In 1972, against some opposition, the Docker River Social Club set up the Ininti Store at Mutitjulu, the Anangu community within the park.

The Ininti Store operated as the community store, serving both Anangu residents and tourists, until all tourism moved in to the Yulara resort in 1984.

The store has remained a central part of life for the community. As part of the celebrations during handback in 1985, it sold postcards and other material designed to raise visitor’s awareness of Anangu culture.

Today Gumlake Pty Ltd runs both the Ininti Store at Mutijulu and the Ininti Cafe in the Cultural Centre at Uluru. The cafe stocks a range of souvenirs including gifts, books, DVDs and clothing.

Fire and Uluru

During most of the year, you will probably notice smoke curling into the sky as you approach Uluru.

Early European explorers also noticed this. As Aboriginal people travelled on foot across the land they would carry a tjangi (fire stick) with them. They could use this to burn patches of old spinifex, cleaning the area for walking and making way for new growth. The new growth would provide bush tucker for Anangu and a patchwork of ideal habitats for animals and insects. Smoke from fires was a signal to other groups that people were travelling and in which direction. Fire was also used for hunting and cooking food.

Traditional burning of the Uluru area stopped when Anangu were driven from the region during the 1930s. During the 1940s rainfall was good and vegetation flourished. The 1950 fire, fed by the fuel grown during the previous 20 years, wiped out about one third of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park's vegetation. The pattern repeated itself and in 1976 two fires burnt 76 percent of the park. Over the same period more species of medium sized mammals became extinct around Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Today most fires in the park are lit following land management patterns traditionally practiced by Anangu.

Late 1970s and early 1980s – Journey to handback

1979 – A claim is lodged under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 by the Central Land Council on behalf of traditional owners for an area of land including Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Aboriginal Land Commissioner Mr Justice Toohey recognised there were traditional owners for the national park, but the park could not be claimed as it had ceased to be Crown land upon its proclamation in 1977.

17 August 1980 – A dingo takes baby Azaria Chamberlain from her tent at the campground. Her body is never recovered. The case becomes one of the longest and most controversial in Australia’s history.

1983 – The newly elected Hawke Government makes a commitment to hand back the park to its traditional owners.

1983 – Yulara Resort opens outside of the park along with a new airport for visitors.

1983 – With the construction of Yulara Resort, the public campground inside the park closes.

1984 – Leases for motels inside the park finish.

1985 – The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 and the Land Rights Act are amended to allow the park to be granted as Aboriginal land, to be jointly managed by Anangu and the Commonwealth, through a lease arrangement with the Director of National Parks. Parties agree to a 99-year lease, with Anangu to receive an annual rent and share of park revenue in return.

26 October 1985 – Handback. A symbolic highpoint for Indigenous land rights. Then Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen delivers deeds of grant under the Land Rights Act to Anangu.

10 December 1985 – The Uluru Board of Management, with a majority of Anangu board members is established under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975.

22 April 1986 – The Uluru Board of Management meets for the first time.

Did you know?

Handback – an historic moment

The ‘Handover’, as it was then called, of Uluru to its traditional owners in 1985 was a symbolic highpoint for land rights.

The land had been alienated from the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 by the declaration of the Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock - Mt Olga) National Park in 1977.

In the late 1970s traditional owners, the Pitjantjatjara Council and the Central Land Council lobbied the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Fred Chaney to amend the Act to allow an Aboriginal land claim. There were offers and counter offers from the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory Government, who wanted title transferred from the Commonwealth to the Territory, with a reduced title to the traditional owners and Aboriginal people involved in management but not in control.

The stalemate continued until the Hawke Government announced in November 1983 that it would amend the Act and return the title for Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park to the traditional owners. The land was to be leased back to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service, and run under a system of 'joint management' with a Board of Management comprising a majority of Anangu members.

On 26 October 1985, hundreds of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people were present when then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen passed over the title deeds at a ceremony at the base of Uluru. Five minutes later the traditional owners signed an agreement leasing the park back to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service for 99 years. The Northern Territory Government was so angered at the time by the handover that it withdrew from the management arrangements.

The first Board Chair was Yami Lester, formerly a land rights campaigner and an executive member of the Pitjantjatjara Council.  He stood by and translated for Sir Ninian Stephen in 1985.

Dingoes at Uluru

It’s a tragic story that made headlines around the world – the day a dingo took and killed baby Azaria Chamberlain.

It took until 12 June 2012 and four coronial inquests before it being officially accepted that a dingo was responsible for her death.

Dingoes are wild at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and play an essential role in the ecosystem. However they can become dangerous if they lose their instinctive fear of humans. This situation usually occurs when they are deliberately fed by unknowing visitors.

We manage very carefully human-dingo interactions. We do this by educating visitors and tourism operators regarding the danger of feeding dingoes.

This management routine has worked so far as there have been no attacks by dingoes or wild dogs in the park since Azaria’s death.

Dingoes are mostly active at night. The park is closed at night and there is no camping allowed inside the park, so it is highly unlikely that tragic circumstances of Azaria’s death would ever be repeated.

We regularly remove rubbish from around visitor areas to make sure dingoes and camp dogs don’t scavenge around bins, significantly reducing the risk of dingo or dog contact with visitors.

Late 1980s and 1990s – A growing market

1987 – Uluru National Park granted World Heritage listing for its natural values.

1992 – Yulara Resort sold and renamed Ayers Rock Resort.

1993 – Official name of the park changes to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

1994 – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park granted World Heritage listing as a cultural landscape.

1995 – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre officially opens, coinciding with celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of handback.

1995 – The park is given the highest World Heritage honour, winning the Picasso Gold Medal.

1995 – The first tour operators’ workshop is held in the park.

1997 – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park wins the Northern Territory finals of the National Reconciliation Awards.

Did you know?

We’re World Heritage listed - twice

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is internationally recognised as a World Heritage Area. It is one of the few properties in the world to be dual-listed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for outstanding natural and cultural values.

The park was first inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1987, when the international community recognised its spectacular geological formations, rare plants and animals and exceptional natural beauty.

In 1994, the park became only the second in the world to be acclaimed for its cultural landscape as well. This listing honours the traditional belief systems as part of one of the oldest human societies on earth.

UNESCO Gold medal
In 1995 Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park won the Picasso Gold Medal, the highest UNESCO award for outstanding efforts to preserve the landscape and Anangu culture and for setting new International standards for World Heritage management.

UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program
The park is ranked as one of the most significant arid land ecosystems in the world. As a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program, it joins at least 11 other reserves in Australia and an international network aiming to preserve the world's major ecosystem types.

Our Cultural Centre

We first identified the need for a dedicated Cultural Centre 1986. We wanted to present material relating to traditional culture, song and dance, the park’s history and provide a space for Anangu to display and sell contemporary Aboriginal arts and crafts, and undertake other cultural and commercial activities.

In September 1990 we commissioned Gregory Burgess Architects Pty Ltd to produce a design brief. The architects set up a work studio in the Mutitjulu Community.  Anangu made sure that everyone involved in the process learned about Tjukurpa.

The final concept was based on the Tjukurpa ancestors Kuniya (the woma python - southern building) and Liru (the poisonous snake - northern building). Traditional owners, Mutitjulu community members and design consultants worked together on the texts and concepts. Artists from Mutitjulu community worked on paintings, ceramics, glass, wood, video and audio-visual displays.

We chose the site taking into account its environmental impact, the aesthetics of the surrounding area and the wishes of Anangu.

Cultural Centre logo

The logo for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre represents four major Tjukurpa stories associated with Uluru – Kuniya, Liru. Kurpany and Mala.

These are four ancestral beings that help form the basis of traditional law and custom for Anangu today.

Opening day

Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre officially opened on 26 October 1995. A year after opening, the Uluru-Kate Tjuta Cultural Centre design was recognised through the prestigious Royal Australian Institute of Architects (Northern Territory Branch) annual awards. Other awards received by Gregory Burgess Pty Ltd for the Cultural Centre were the 1996 Tracy Memorial Award for the best building in any category, the Institutional Architectural Award and the People's Choice Award.

2000 – A park for all

2000 – The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and its regulations governing park activities come into effect.

2000 – The park hosts the start of the Sydney Olympics.

2000 – The park’s first Cultural Site Management Unit is established. The Ara irititja oral history program is established throughout Anangu Ptijantjatjara lands.

2001 – First Anangu rangers graduate from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

2002 – Cultural Heritage Action Plan adopted for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

2002 – Destructive wildfires burn much of the park.

2003 – October wildfires destroy luxury accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort.

2005 – National Australia Day celebrations take place at the park at dawn.

2005 – Celebrations mark the 20th anniversary of handback to traditional owners.

2005 – Extinct in the wild, a captive breeding population of mala (rufous-hare wallaby) are reintroduced to the park.

2005 – The Cultural Heritage Database for the park is launched.

Did you know?

The Sydney Olympics

The 2000 Sydney Olympic torch relay began its final journey to the stadium in our park. A large crowd gathered at Uluru to watch Olympic gold medallist, Nova Peris-Kneebone, become the first person to run with the flame on Australian soil.

Then Governor-General, Sir William Deane, lit the torch before Nova Peris-Kneebone and her daughter, Jessica, could begin the first leg of the 100-day around-Australia relay. It was then handed to the tennis great, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who then passed the torch on to the first of the traditional owners who completed the nine kilometre circuit around the base of Uluru.

Peris-Kneebone ran in bare feet in traditional sense. She told waiting reporters after her run why she chose to carry the flame in bare feet.

“It's a sign of respect for my people, and they've given me strength to get to where I had today and that's why I chose to run barefoot,” she said.

Many local children joined in on the relay, running alongside the famous sports people.

Reintroducing mala

The mala (rufous-hare wallaby) is a small and critically endangered wallaby, no longer found in the wild. The species survives in a few feral-proof enclosures scattered around different parts of the continent and some islands off the West Australian coast. Our mala enclosure covers 170 hectares and is surrounded by a cat and fox proof fence. Inside, the mala live a fairly natural life apart from the provision of supplementary food that they can use in the drier times.

We constructed the mala enclosure in 2005, introducing 25 animals. Today there are more than 220 mala in our paddock. The original mala were reared in Watarrka National Park.

The Mala are important ancestral beings for Anangu. Visit here for more on the Mala story.

2006 to today – Towards the future

2009 – The Knowledge for Tour Guides program is introduced, to improve tour guides’ knowledge of Anangu culture, the history, geology and plants and animals of the park.

2009 – Uluru’s new sunrise viewing area Talinguru Nyakunytjaku opens, giving visitors a 360 degree view of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

2010 – Anangu and the park celebrate 25 years since handback and joint management with a community festival and concert.

2011 – Ayers Rock Resort is sold to the Indigenous Land Corporation.

2012 – Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park wins the top prize at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Did you know?

25 years since Handback

Tjukurpa munu manta kunpungku kanyintjaku | Keeping culture and country strong together

On 26 October we celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of the most important milestones in our country's Indigenous history - the handback of Uluru and Kata Tjuta to their Anangu traditional owners.

Back in 1985 hundreds of people witnessed the Governor-General present Anangu with the title deeds to these Australian icons, at a ceremony at the base of Uluru.

In 2010 we celebrated this milestone with a community festival called Tjukurpa munu manta kunpungku kanyintjaku, Keeping culture and country strong together.

The festival was open to all visitors and locals. Held at the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing are, visitors enjoyed watching Anangu artists at work, Indigenous bands, inma (traditional dance), lots of food and local arts and crafts.

Ayers Rock Resort – beginning a new era

In 2011 the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased Ayers Rock Resort in arrangement with Wana Ungkunytja, which represents Indigenous business interests in the nearby communities of Mutijulu, Imanpa and Docker River.

ILC chairperson Shirley McPherson said the purchase of the resort from the GPT Group was a positive opportunity for Australian tourism and Indigenous economic development.

"The resort represents a unique and probably the biggest opportunity to advance the training and employment of Indigenous people in the Australian tourism and hospitality industries,” she said.

"There is a great opportunity to increase the current limited Indigenous employment at the resort, which has a workforce of 670 people.

"By 2015, 200 Indigenous people will be employed at the Resort and this will climb to 340, more than 50 per cent of total employees, by the end of 2018."

The ILC has established a National Indigenous Training Academy at Yulara. The academy began with 15 trainees in 2011. Over the next five years 500 Indigenous trainees are expected to graduate from the academy, gaining employment at Ayers Rock Resort and in other tourism and hospitality businesses across Australia.

Nyangatjatjara College is an Indigenous secondary college based at Yulara. The school’s students are also benefitting from the acquisition of the resort, being able to access training and potential job opportunities.