From the 26th October 2019, the climbing of Uluru will be banned following a unanimous decision from the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park board.
A History Of Disrespect
The controversial climb has been a constant sore point for the Anangu people of Central Australia, who have felt under pressure for many years to keep the climb open despite it violating tjukurpa (cultural law).
Since 1992, signs at the bottom of the climb have outlined requests from the Traditional Owners to refrain from climbing onto the sacred site. The amount of climbers has been falling steadily; in the ’90s roughly 75% of visitors climbed the rock but as of 2015, only 16.2% of visitors were doing the climb.
The 10-year management plan that was put in place in 2010 required one of three conditions to be met to close the climb, including the proportion of visitors dropping below 20%.
Closing the “Playground”
Yesterday, a board consisting of 8 traditional owners and 3 National Parks representatives voted unanimously to officially close the climb on the 26th of October 2019. The date is significant, it marks exactly 34 years since Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa were officially handed back to the traditional owners.
Now, after consulting with the wider Anangu community, the traditional owners are seeing the actual results that a handback should entail.
Traditional owner Sammy Wilson, the chair of the board who enacted the vote, described the trivialisation of the sacred site:
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland.” He went on to welcome tourists to engage in the many other respectful activities now on offer.
“[It’s] a cause for celebration.” he said.
Why Should We Respect Sacred Sites?
It’s often hard to bridge the cultural chasm that lies between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians. The Aboriginal people have a deeply spiritual culture with strong ties to the land; places often have a great deal of importance in a way that Western cultures fail to comprehend.
This ruling doesn’t simply begin and end with not climbing Uluru. Let this decision inspire your adventures to grow from physical discoveries, into journeys of cultural and physical enlightenment. And to respect the wishes of the First Peoples of this land. It is only through understanding that we can find true reconciliation.
We Are Explorers is committed to changing the way we think about sacred sites and the colonial impact on the First Peoples. We note that none of the places listed on the website are being truly “discovered” for the first time, acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we explore and pay our respects to Elders, past and present.
The author would like to make it clear that he climbed Uluru in 2008, an action that he now deeply regrets.