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Sky ship to offer bird’s eye view of Uluru for tourists when they can no longer climb the rock

Luke Griffiths, July 2, 2018 9:00AM The Australian

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Australia's famous Uluru rock formation at sunset. media_cameraAustralia's famous Uluru rock formation at sunset.


Reading level: green

The operator of a “sky ship” that will offer amazing views of Uluru from above hopes it will attract tourists who might otherwise avoid* the famous rock after traditional owners* stopped people being able to climb it.

SkyShip Uluru, a tethered* ­helium-filled balloon is now having its final checks from Civil Aviation Safety Authority* officials before it starts flights.

The ship, which was made in Europe and believed to cost more than $1 million, is to reach a maximum height of 181m and carry about 15 people at a time.

SkyShip Uluru is seen from up above. You can see Uluru in the top right area of land. Picture: SKY LEISURE media_cameraSkyShip Uluru is seen from up above. You can see Uluru in the top right area of land. Picture: SKY LEISURE

Uluru is in the centre of Australia in the Simpson Desert. The sky ship will be based

just outside the northern entrance to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is 9km from the rock.

Once authorities determine the sky ship is safe, operator David Adler said it would start flying over the rock as soon as possible.

Mr Adler said the traditional owners of the land near Uluru were “very supportive”.

A spokeswoman for the national park board, which helped to ban climbing on Uluru, said it had no issue with the sky ship project.

The Sky Ship Uluru. media_cameraThe Sky Ship Uluru.

The climbing ban begins on October 26 next year, marking the 34th anniversary of the land being handed back to the traditional owners.

Mr Adler said the sky ship would help fill a gap left by the closure of the 348m-high climb. “It is an interesting alternative*, to provide a culturally sensitive* experience,” he said.

Uluru glows red at sunset. media_cameraUluru glows red at sunset.


  1. It was originally called Ayers Rock after it was named by William Gosse in 1873 after Sir Henry Ayers. It became known by its Aboriginal name of Uluru in 2002.
  2. The rocks stand 348m above sea level (that’s taller than the Eiffel Tower in France), but there is another 2.5km of rock underground that you cannot see.
  3. Uluru is believed to be 600 million years old.
  4. It takes 3.5 hours to walk around the base of Uluru.
  5. Uluru is known for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset.


Virtual visitors experience Uluru


avoid: stay away from

traditional owners: Aboriginal or indigenous owners

tethered: tied by rope to restrict its movement

Civil Aviation Safety Authority: body responsible for ensuring aircraft are safe to fly

alternative: another choice

culturally sensitive: being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without saying they are positive or negative, better or worse, right or wrong



  1. What is SkyShip Uluru filled with that makes it float?
  2. Where is Uluru?
  3. When does the climbing ban begin?
  4. Which body decides if the sky ship is safe to fly?
  5. How old is Uluru?


1. Advertising flyer

Have you ever stayed at a hotel or a caravan park? In the reception area they often have a wall of advertising flyers trying to entice visitors to the different attractions in the area. Create a flyer for SkyShip Uluru that could be used for this purpose. By the time tourists finish reading your flyer they should know what the attraction is, why it is unique, and they should want to go there.

Your flyer design could be created by hand or there are many computer and online programs that you could use to create a digital design.

2. Extension: The SkyShip experience might not be suitable for people who don’t like heights. Do your own research and then suggest some other Uluru-based activities that they might enjoy.

Time: Allow 45 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Visual Art, Geography


After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green. Discuss how these are being used, where and how often. What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do you feel about the climbing ban on Uluru? Is the sky ship a good alternative experience?
No one-word answers. Explain your answer and reasons why you think that way. Use lots of adjectives.

Extra Reading in geography