Alhekulyele (Mt Gillen) in Alice Springs, has officially been recognised as a sacred site and, in accordance with the wishes of the Traditional Owners, will be closed to the public from 1 March 2021.
The unauthorised and unmaintained trail that leads to the summit of Alhekulyele from behind Flynn’s Grave, has long been requested to be closed by the Mparntwe custodians. Signs have recently been put in place, requesting the public not to hike the trail, and from 1 March 2021, fines of up to $31,600 will be handed out to those ignoring the ban.
The decision has been made and announced by the Department of Environment, Parks, and Water Security and the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, both of which have worked in consultation with the Traditional Owners to come to this decision.
According to Traditional Custodian and spokesperson Benedict Stevens, ‘This site is central to Ayeye Akngwelye Mpartnwe-arenyethe – Dog Story of Alice Springs.’
As the trail is unmaintained, its popularity with hikers is also causing erosion, which is an issue of public safety and environmental conservation.
Traditional Custodian Doris Stuart told the ABC she feels physical pain knowing people are walking along the ridge of Alhekulyele.
‘It’s like I’ve been scarred and that my rib cage has had the knife run across it,’ she said. Doris is relieved that the trail will be closed.
But wait! Traditional Owners are also helping open new tracks in Alice Springs too! Take a look.
Feature photo thanks to Alice Springs News