The first photos of Uluru

The exploratory party consisted of William Tietkens, David Beetson, Frederick Warman, Billy, an Indigenous man from the Alice Springs Native Police, and a small Indigenous boy called Weei. Twelve camels formed part of the expedition – four for riding, two for carrying water and six to carry provisions which had to last six months. According to Tietkens’ account, the camels had a very difficult trip. Extreme heat and cold, rough ground and even poisonous plants took their toll. Tietkens went to some lengths to make sure the camels were adequately fed and watered, but many of them lost weight and weakened. Darby (one of the store camels) died at Mt Olga and Tooroo (Tietkens’ riding camel) was left near Ayers Rock to recover on his own. Tietkens wrote, ‘A more beautiful and luxuriant spot could not be found for him to recruit in, and I sincerely hope he may recover.’

The photographs below were taken on the 1889 expedition by Tietkens, who was a keen amateur photographer. Unfortunately the quality of the photographs has deteriorated over time. His photographs of Uluru (Ayers Rock) are the earliest known photographs of this iconic Australian landform.

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> View the entire Tietkens album on the State Library's catalogue Link to catalogue