Often overshadowed by their more famous neighbor, the mighty Ayers Rock (Uluru), the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) are part of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. This natural wonder, comprising 36 domed red rocks looming up from the desert plains, is a spectacular sight and one of the highlights of Australia’s Red Centre.
The best views of the Olgas are from the Kata Tjuta Dune viewing platform, especially at sunrise. Sunset visits are popular as well. Hikers can follow the Walpa Gorge walk (about a 1-hour circuit that passes between the two main domes) or the more challenging Valley of the Winds trail (a 3-hour circuit).
Day tours depart from Ayers Rock, Yulara, or Alice Springs, and often include a visit to nearby Uluru, a stop at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre, or an Aussie-style barbecue in the Outback. Choosing a multi-day tour means you can travel farther into the desert to visit Kings Canyon or Lake Amadeus, enjoy camping beneath the desert stars, and experience the Olgas at sunrise and sunset. Adventurous travelers can also take a desert camel ride, an ATV safari, or a helicopter or fixed-wing scenic flight.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Olgas are essential for outdoor and adventure lovers, and first-time visitors to the region.
- This is a sacred Aboriginal site, and climbing the Olgas is considered disrespectful to the Anangu people.
- Cell phone coverage can be limited, but Wi-Fi is available at the Cultural Centre in Uluru and Ayers Rock Resort.
- The Olgas are located in the desert, so sunscreen, a hat, water, and comfortable shoes are a must. Prepare for high temperatures during the day and chilly weather at night.
- Alcohol is not allowed in the park except on organized tours.
- The Kata Tjuta Dune viewing platform is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Olgas are located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, around 25 miles (40 kilometers) and a 40-minute drive west of Uluru. The closest accommodation and restaurants are the Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara, a 45-minute drive; the nearest major town, Alice Springs, is an over 5-hour drive. Regular flights run to Ayers Rock Airport and Alice Springs Airport, while cars and buses arrive via the Northern Territory’s scenic Red Centre Way.
When to Get There
The Olgas are visitable year-round. May through September offer cooler weather that’s better suited for hiking and sightseeing tours. In summer (December to March), when temperatures can go above 100°F (38°C), it’s best to plan activities before 11am. Try to visit at sunrise or sunset, when the changing light casts colorful hues over the rocks.
What Are the Olgas?
Volcanic activity some 550 million years ago formed the Olgas, 36 enormous domed rocks made from the same arkose sandstone as Uluru. The domes stretch over a massive 12-mile (20-kilometer) area, and the highest peak—Mount Olga—is much higher than Uluru at 1,790 feet (546 meters). The OIgas are traditionally known by their indigenous name, Kata Tjuta, which means “many heads,” and the site remains of great cultural and spiritual importance to the Anangu people.