ULURU, Australia (AFP) - Britain's Prince William visited Australia's Uluru on Tuesday, taking his wife Kate to the spectacular red monolith and evoking the visit by his parents Prince Charles and Diana in 1983.
On arrival at Yulara airport after flying over the landmark formerly known as Ayers Rock, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were met by officials including traditional land owner Daisy Walkabout, who had also welcomed William's parents.
"We're happy to meet them, like we were happy to meet (Charles and Diana) in the past," Walkabout said.
"They've travelled a lot and now they will come to see this country, and it will be good to know they have seen Uluru, which is so hugely significant not just for a small group of people but a whole range of people that are related and connected to this place." The young royals, who are on a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand with their baby son George, have been warmly received Down Under where crowds have turned out in droves to see them and thrust dozens of gifts at them.
Kate, wearing a patterned sun-frock, looked relaxed for the trip with her husband, who ditched his suit for cream pants and a casual khaki shirt.
The pair were welcomed to the region by Aboriginal elders with song and with a special dance rarely seen in public.
William and Kate sat and watched as ochre-painted dancers performed, while traditional owners of Uluru, the Anangu, sang and beat clapping sticks.
The royal couple were later given a basket of paper paintings made from the droppings of a mala - a type of small wallaby - and a carved wooden shield.
At the time of Prince Charles and Diana's tour, visitors often made the perilous climb up the rock, despite this being against the express wishes of the traditional owners the Anangu to whom the site is sacred.
But the Duke and Duchess walked along the base of Uluru, guided by traditional owner Sammy Wilson who was tasked with explaining some of the traditional stories of the World Heritage-listed site.
Earlier, the royals had presented tourism and hospitality graduates with certificates at the National Indigenous Training Academy.
"This is really great... We're touched they came so far to be here," said Francis Oba, 23, from the Torres Strait in Australia's far north.
The couple were then presented with several gifts including a two-metre mulga wood hunting spear - bound in traditional fashion with kangaroo tendons - and a hand-painted bracelet. The visit to central Australia has generated interest among the local Aborigines, while officials hope it will spur tourism.
Chief Minister for the Northern Territory Adam Giles said the whole region was "pumped" that the young couple had included the remote outback area on their itinerary. "We've got school kids who've travelled long and far to see the royals," he told Sky News.
The couple travelled without nine-month-old George to the dry 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) heat of the central desert region at Uluru, but he was one topic of conversation at the afternoon's official tea party hosted by Giles.
When some schoolgirls asked Kate and William about their son, they said he had changed a lot while they had been away, with the Duke admitting he was not looking forward to the long flight home. "He can get a bit grumpy on the long flights," he said.
The royal couple, who were taken to a special viewing area to watch the sun set against the rock, are due to travel to Adelaide Wednesday.