As we continued to drive into the much loved and newly green landscape of the Red Centre, our coach captain, Carl, encouraged people to keep an eye out for Ayers Rock and shout out when they saw it. I smiled at the little joke, knowing that most people, even most Australians, don’t realize the Ayers Rock is not the only great monolith of this region. It is, in fact, one of three monster rocks here. The first one to come into view, if you’re approaching from the Stuart Highway, is Mount Conner.
People began to point and cry out that they could see Ayers Rock. It was only after most of the group had turned their attention toward the south that Carl finally informed them of the flat-topped monolith’s true identify. It may have been the “wrong rock,” but we still stopped for photographs.
Called Artilla by the Aborigines, this most easterly of the three great tors is of different composition than the other two (Uluru/Ayers Rock and Katajuta/The Olgas). About 800 feet high and 2 miles across, Mount Conner was named in 1873 for a politician in South Australia. (South Australia governed the Northern Territory in the late 1800s, so most features in this region were named for politicians, explorers, supporters, or family and friends from South Australia.) Today, this rock, like others in this region, are more frequently called by their Aboriginal names, so if you take a tour now, you may find it being identified as Artilla.
In the photo below, in addition to seeing Mount Conner, you can also see how much greener the Red Centre had become, due to the recent heavy rains.