Following the closure of Uluru to climbers on October 26th, there have been calls by the Jinibara people of the Sunshine Coast to close peaks in the Glasshouse Mountains.
Jinibara elders have called for the closure of the highest peak in the range, Mount Beerwah (556m), to climbers and tourists. Local elder, Ken Murphy says the site is sacred for his people, ‘It’s the mother mountain. It is a sacred site. It’s where the birthing places were, that’s the main thing, not for people to climb and take videos up.’
The mountain was reopened in 2016, after being closed for several years due to safety issues that have since been addressed.
The Kabi Kabi people have also called for the closure of Mount Coolum, an hour north of Mount Beerwah.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said that the Department of Environment and Science is in regular consultation with the Traditional Owners as to how best protect culturally significant sites such as these, however there are no plans within the department to close the mountains.
These calls for closure follow similar discussions happening in the Grampians in Victoria and Wollumbin / Mt Warning in NSW and they beg the question, how many mountains are going to be closed to the public?
We Are Explorers has high respect for the Traditional Owners of this land and want to make sure that we are listening to their concerns, as their insight into how to care for the land is crucial. Due to cultural concerns surrounding sacred sites at Wollumbin / Mt Warning, we do not have any published information on our site about how to access or hike the mountain.
However, there must be ways for us to coexist in these spaces, where deep respect and dignity is still shown by those who are privileged enough to visit these sacred sites. Limiting the number of visitors to a site, banning photography, employing Aboriginal guides and educating visitors on the cultural significance of an area (and how to help maintain it) may be other ways these places can be shown the respect they deserve.
Allowing people to visit these places can be an opportunity for people to learn about our nation’s history and better understand the significance of these places by going and experiencing the power of a place. Shutting them all down is not necessarily the most effective way to go.
Feature photo by Lisa Owen | @_thelittleadventurer
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