Australia will hold a new inquest into the controversial 1980 disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayer's Rock, a famous landmark in the central Australian outback, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

The inquest will be the fourth into the infant's death, which drew international attention after her mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The conviction was later quashed. A conviction against the baby's father, Michael Chamberlain, as an accessory after the fact was also later quashed.

Azaria's parents have always maintained she was taken from their tent by a dingo, an Australian wild dog. The case has gripped attention for decades, prompting several dramatisations, including a 1988 movie starring Meryl Streep.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice in Australia's Northern Territory said a new inquest had been ordered for February, without elaborating on the reasons.

I can confirm that this is going to take place, he said, adding it would begin on February 24.

Ayer's Rock, or Uluru by its Aboriginal name, is a giant monolith in Australia's parched centre and is one of the country's leading tourist attractions.

(Reporting by Chris McCall; Editing by Paul Tait)