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Who Discovered Ayers Rock?

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The Aborigines, the native people of Australia, have known about Ayer’s Rock, or Uluru, for thousands of years. The huge monolith has long been considered a sacred site by the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara peoples. This is obvious, as the surfaces of Uluru, as well as overhangs and caves, are rich in ancient paintings. It’s safe to say that the first discoverers of Uluru were the Aborigine, as far back as 30,000 years ago. It’s thought that Uluru, as well as the nearby rock formations of Kata Tjuta, were valuable sites to the Aboriginies as they offered a relatively reliable water source. The rock is still the site of Aborigine religious activities and rituals today. Uluru has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres and is 348 metres high.

The first European discoverer

In 1873, a surveyor employed by the South Australian government, William Christie Gosse (1842-1881), was sent to the Northern Territory in order to map out a route from Alice Springs’s new Overland Telegraph Station to the west to Perth. The team departed from the course of the Finke River and went west, following in the footsteps of the famous explorers Ernest Giles and Colonel Peter Warburton. They reached Lake Amadeus and got across the swamps at its eastern end. Once he was at the top of a sand ridge, Gosse could see a flat-topped mesa table structure he called Mount Connor, after a contemporary South Australian politician. This mountain is now called Atila, its native name.

William Christie Gosse wrote about his discovery

From this vantage point, Gosse could also see another large rock formation in the distance, and he decided to head off in its direction. By July 19th the party had reached the monolith, and Gosse was amazed by its size and beauty, and wrote about it in his diary:

When I got clear of the sand hills, and was only two miles distant, and the hill, for the first time coming fairly in view, what was my astonishment to find it was one immense rock rising abruptly from the plain; the holes I had noticed were caused by the water in some places causing immense caves.

Who it got it’s name?

William Gosse decided to name the rock Ayers Rock after the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. With the help of Khamran, which one of his Afghan camel driver, William Gosse became the first European to climb the Ayers Rock. Nowadays, the Aborigine people prefer tourists and visitors not to climb the rock, as they worry about tourists interfering inadvertently with religious ceremonies and also about people falling and being injured.

Tourists loved it

During the early 1900s, the area around Uluru was populated by tourists and miners, and the Aborigine people were pushed out of their sacred land. In the 1970’s, environmentalists began to recognize the harmful effects tourism was having on the rock, and moved accommodation away from the site. In 1979, the sites of Kata Tjuta and Uluru became a national park, and in 1983 the rocks were returned to their rightful owners, the Aborigine people.

More on popular spots in Australian

  1. Simpson Desert
  2. The Great Barrier Reef