Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
Spectacular Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) is a group of 36 domed rock formations about 40km west of Uluru, in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are owned by the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the land. The land is leased to Parks Australia and is jointly administered by the Anangu and Parks Australia.
There are 2 main hiking trails available to the public:
Valley of the Winds
This trail is over 7 kilometres long, and includes breathtaking views from two lookout points. Parts of the trail consist of some moderate-level of difficulty for hikers. The Valley of the Winds is typically closed around mid-morning to ensure hikers are not caught out in the heat of the mid day.
Walpa means “Windy”. This windy gorge tail is shorter and is far less demanding on footwear and hydration. Walpa Gorge is generally opened all day, however it is closed at times for reasons such as maintenance.
The Olgas was the name used for a long period after colonial exploration of the area. Ernest Giles named the highest of the domes Mount Olga in 1872, in respect of Queen Olga of Württemberg in Germany, see more.
The original name Kata Tjuta is from the Pitjantjatjara / Yankunytjatjara language, and means “Many Heads”. This no doubt relates to the creation story for the formations, however this and other knowledge regarding the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta is not shared with un-initiated people.
Many of the areas in and around Kata Tjuta are sacred to the traditional people of the area, the Anangu. Public access to much of the area is restricted, and commercial publishing of images taken in many areas is forbidden by law.
It is believed by many that the entire landmark is a traditional men’s area, and central to the cultural traditions and passing of knowledge between men in Anangu society. Examples include knowledge about hunting, which many claim is apparent when viewing the domes from the hiking trails.
The rocky domes of Kata Tjuta are of varying height, with the tallest (“Mount Olga”) standing 546 metres tall. This makes Kata Tjuta about 200 meters higher than Uluru. See the Geological History of Kata Tjuta.