Kata Tjuta (Olga’s) Profile and Spiritual Stories

Courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kata_Tjuta

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Tjuṯa (Kata Joota), and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations or bornhardts located about 365 km (227 mi) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km (16 mi) to the east, and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The 36 domes, covering an area of 21.68 km2 (8.37 sq mi), are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1,066 m (3,497 ft) above sea level, or approximately 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain (198 m (650 ft) higher than Uluru).[1] Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.

The alternative name, The Olgas, comes from the tallest peak, Mt. Olga. At the behest of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Mt. Olga was named in 1872 by Ernest Giles, in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg. She and her husband King Karl had marked their 25th wedding anniversary the previous year by, amongst other things, naming Mueller a Freiherr (baron), making him Ferdinand von Mueller; this was his way of repaying the compliment.[2]

On 15 December 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names consisting of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name. As a result, Mount Olga was renamed Mount Olga / Kata Tjuta. On 6 November 2002, following a request from the regional Tourism Association, the order of the dual names was officially reversed to Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga.

The region surrounding Kata Tjuta lies in the Amadeus Basin, an intracratonic basin formed during the Adelaidian, roughly 850-800 mya. During the Petermann Orogeny, approximately 550 mya, an event known as the Woodroff Thrust, thrust granulite facies rocks northward over low-grade metamorphic rocks. The eventual erosion of the formation resulted in a molasse facies, or deposition in front of rising mountains, in this case the Petermann Orogeny, to create the deposit known as the Mount Currie Conglomerate. The Mount Currie Conglomerate is made predominately of basalt, porphyry, granite, gneiss and volcanic rock fragments with a matrix composed of angular quartz, microcline and orthoclase among other minerals.

Both Uluru and the Kata Tjuta are made of sediment originating in this Mount Currie Conglomerate and both have a chemical composition similar to granite. Scientists using Rb/Sr dating techniques to accurately date the rock have given it an age of 600 mya, matching the date of the Woodroof Thrust event. The actual fresh rock that makes up the Olgas and Uluru is medium to dark gray with green or pink hues in some laminae. The bright orange-red hue, for which the structures are noted, is due to a patina over finely divided feldspar coated in iron oxide.


There are many Pitjantjatjara Dreamtime legends associated with this place and indeed everything in the vicinity including, of course, Uluru. A number of legends surround the great snake king Wanambi who is said to live on the summit of Mount Olga and only comes down during the dry season. The majority of mythology surrounding the site is not disclosed to outsiders.

Many ceremonies were, and are still carried out here, particularly at night. One of the former ceremonies was a type of public punishment that in extreme cases included death.


Spiritual significance

Kata Tjuta, meaning many heads to the Australian Aborigines, is a group of more than 30 rounded red conglomerate masses of rock rising out of the desert plain in the Northern Territory of Australia. Some of the rocks are bunched close together with only narrow precipitous crevices between. Others, rounded and polished by the wind, are more spaced apart. The highest is called Mount Olga (1500 feet).

The rocks, also known as the Olgas (named after the Queen of Spain in 1872, when the rocks were first explored by a white man), like their nearby neighbour, Uluru (Ayers Rock), have been sacred to the Aborigines since time immemorial and figure prominently in their legends about the Dreaming, the time of creation.

The Aborigines identify Mount Olga as the home of the snake Wanambi who, during the rainy season, stays curled up in a waterhole on the summit. During the dry season he moves down to the gorge below. He also uses the various caves on Mount Olga. The hairs of his beard are the dark lines on the eastern side of the rock. His breath is the wind which blows through the gorge; when he gets angry it can become a hurricane.

The domed rocks on the eastern side are identified with ancestors known as the mice women; food prepared for them are two large rocks near the end of Mount Olga.

Rocks in the south-western portion are where the poisonous snake men, the Liru, make their camp before setting out to attack the harmless carpet snakes at Uluru.

The pointed rocks on the east is Malu, a kangaroo man, who is dying of wounds inflicted by dingoes. Malu leans on a rock which is his sister, Mulumura, a lizard woman, who cradles him in her arms.

Also present are the stone bodies of the Pungalunga, giant cannibals.


* Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime : The Story of Prehistoric Australia and its People, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”