NOTE: Written in 2005,
things may have changed since then but they won't have got any better
Uluru-Kata Tjuta (aka Ayres Rock-The Olgas), the
very heart of Australia geographically and emotionally. Who wouldn’t
want to photograph this iconic landscape? The Uluru-Kata Tjuta national
park houses one of the world’s most photogenic landscapes;
unfortunately there are serious restrictions in place for photographers
(and other artists as well) in the park.
So what can’t you do?
First let me say what you can do. As a private individual
with a camera you can pretty much photograph what you like, there
are a few signs around the base of the rock asking that you respect
the wishes of the Aboriginal owners, but there’s not many,
and luckily they are not in photogenic places.
But if you intend to use the images for “commercial”
purposes the rules are a lot different. “But I’m not
a pro, I don’t use my photos commercially” you say.
Maybe, maybe not. If you display the photos for public viewing anywhere
then that is considered a commercial use. That includes obvious
venues like an advertising billboard and publication in a magazine,
but also hanging prints on the local café’s wall, or
posting holiday snaps to your blog site.
What are the rules?
There are too many rules and conditions for a short article
like this, but the following list covers the main items.
- No photography where there are signs to that
- No photography anywhere except as indicated
on the map issued by the media centre.
- No photographs that show people climbing Uluru,
or that imply that people do climb the rock. Therefore you can
climb the world’s largest monolith, but leave your camera
behind as any shots taken while there, say of Kata Tjuta, or even
the car park, cannot be used because they imply that you did the
- No photos at all in the Valley of the Winds.
Having said that, detail shots, say of a flower, can often be
- All photos that show the Kata Tjuta domes
must show at least three of the domes.
- No photos from the road between the Kata Tjuta
viewing area and the car park.
How do I get a permit?
Permits can be obtained from the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
media centre. The permit will come with all the information you
need, including maps detailing the areas that can, and cannot, be
With your permit in hand, and a park entry pass,
you can now head off to take photos. Most people spend three days
or less because that’s how long the park pass is valid for.
Once you have your photos you must submit them
to the media centre for approval.
Submitting you photos
As most people are shooting with digital cameras these days the
media centre is used to reviewing photos on CD. Burn all your images
onto a disc, print a caption sheet, fill out the required forms,
and send it all with a covering letter to the media centre, then
wait a couple of weeks for an email detailing which photos have
The personnel at the centre are very helpful and
will advise you how to go about things. Sometimes however they cannot
tell you why a photo was rejected, as they are submitted to the
tribal elders who have the final word and do not explain their reasons.
Now I know this all sounds a bit negative, but this really is a
fantastic part of the world, and despite the restrictions it’s
still possible to get very good images at Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
So, on the assumption that I haven’t put
you off, here are some tips.
- You can camp at Yulara, just a few kilometres
outside the park; it’s close but quite expensive. Many people
camp at Curtin Springs, which is free, but a 70k drive to the
- Go to the sunrise viewing area at sunset,
and vice versa. This way you avoid the crowds, but also, anything
you can photograph from the sunrise viewing area cannot be used
anyway. By photographing there at sunset you can concentrate on
silhouetting the rock, and because a silhouette shows no detail,
such photos should be usable.
- It’s generally considered to be a 2-3
hour walk around the base of Uluru, but that’s for non-photographers.
Allow all day, as there is a lot to photograph. This means taking
some food and water on the walk. The same applies for the Valley
of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta.
- Try to get to the Kata Tjuta viewing platform
before dawn, the first light on the domes looks fantastic.
- While at the Kata Tjuta viewing platform look
behind you, Uluru is about 40k away as the crow flies, but still
- Don’t just go for the obvious photos
of a huge rock, try looking for abstract images and wildlife as
- This is desert country and therefore quite
cold when the sun goes down, so rug up when heading out to catch
Here are some photos to show that I practice what
The walk around Uluru can easily
take all day but don't just photograph a huge rock, there's plenty
of detail that's interesting as well, like the interior of this
When photographing Kata-Tjuta you
must show at least three of the domes.
Uluru at sunrise but from the sunset
viewing area. This side of the rock is normally out of bounds for
photos but as a silhouette you cannot see any detail so that's OK.
It get very cold overnight, so bring
plenty of warm clothing for that dawn viewing. Seen here are a couple
admiring kata-Tjuta at dawn from the official viewing platform.
This is some detail of what they
were looking at. Note the three domes, an almost identical shot
that was a bit tighter and only showed two domes was rejected.
Technically no photography is allowed
at all in the Valley of the Winds, however detail shots that could
have been taken anywhere will probably be given the OK.
Forty kilometres away but still photogenic.
This view of Uluru is from the Kata-Tjuta viewing platform.
For any queries or further information contact the Uluru-Kata Tjuta
National Park Media Office on:
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Media & Information Officer
PO Box 119
Yulara NT 0872
Ph: (08) 8956 1114