On October 26, 1985, the Australian government returned ownership of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, to the Pitjantjatjara, Aboriginal Australians who traditionally lived in the area. The return of Uluru to the Pitjantjatjara was a significant acknowledgement of the rights of indigenous people. Conditions of the “handback” allowed the Aborigines to lease Uluru to the national park service, and jointly manage the area with the government.

Uluru is one of the most famous natural sites in Australia. The enormous red sandstone formation is an “island mountain,” jutting more than 860 meters (2,822 feet) out of the surrounding desert, and measuring 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles) in circumference. Aborigines have many legends about the origins of Uluru. In one legend, the rock is a pile of mud left by two giant boys playing in the dirt after a rain.

Aboriginal Australian
Noun

people and culture native to Australia and its surrounding islands. Also called Aborigine.

circumference
Noun

distance around the outside of a circle.

Noun

area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.

enormous
Adjective

very large.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

Adjective

characteristic to or of a specific place.

lease
Verb

to rent, or buy for use during a specific time period.

national park
Noun

geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

sandstone
Noun

common sedimentary rock formed by grains of sand compacted or cemented with material such as clay.

significant
Adjective

important or impressive.

Uluru
Noun

large sandstone rock formation in central Australia. Also called Ayers Rock.

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