Friday, 16 November, 2018

Australia's famed Uluru to be closed to climbers

A decision on a climbing ban was made today at Uluru and has been a long time coming for some A decision on a climbing ban was made today at Uluru and has been a long time coming for some
Melinda Barton | 01 November, 2017, 09:22

At a meeting of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board, made up of traditional owners and National Park representatives, a unanimous decision was made to ban the activity.

The date the climb will close, October 26, 2019, will be 34 years to the day since Uluru was given back to the traditional owners.

"If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site or an area of restricted access, I don't enter or climb it, I respect it".

Speaking at Uluru for the announcement, senior traditional owner and chairman of the park board Sammy Wilson said the site had deep cultural significance and was not a "theme park".

The board had announced in 2010 that it would close the climb once the number of visitors to Uluru who had defied the wishes of the traditional owners fell below 20%.

The Unesco World Heritage-listed 348-metre rock, known for its shifting red-ochre colours, is a top tourist drawcard, attracting around 300,000 visitors each year, despite its remote desert location near Alice Springs.

"We've talked about it for so long and now we're able to close the climb". It is the same here for Anangu. "We are not stopping tourists, just this activity".

Now climbing is not banned, but the traditional owners of the land, Anangu, would prefer people not to climb Uluru.

"This is a significant moment for all Australians and marks a new chapter in our history".

The Central Land Council, the national body for Indigenous nations in Central Australia, welcomed the board for "righting a historic wrong".

Australian tourists are most likely to climb the rock followed by the Japanese, according to the park's figures.

A sign at the base of Uluru urges visitors to reconsider climbing the sacred site, explaining it is not permitted under traditional law.