After the announcement that the Uluru climb would be closed for good, we are now witnessing a surge in the number of tourists climbing the sacred rock.
Late last year, Traditional Anangu Owners made the long awaited announcement that the Uluru climb would be closed for good. The announcement came after it was found that less than 20% of people visiting the park were making the climb which was down from over 70% in previous decades. The closure of the climb will not come into effect until 26 October, 2019, however the number of tourists climbing the rock has already begun to surge.
Before the announcement of the ban, the number of people who climbed was only 16% of the overall visitors (around 300,000 per year). The average amount of people climbing was between 50 – 140 people per day. Now latest reports suggest the numbers have skyrocketed to between 300 – 500 climbers per day in recent weeks.
Last week, we were contacted by an Alice Springs tour guide who supplied us with the pictures in this article. He said it is sad and pathetic how people feel they need to climb Uluru even though the message is very clear that it goes against the wishes of traditional owners. In the picture below, one family even felt it was important to take a photo together with the Australian flag. To many of us, this is a show of dominance and disrespect and a form of ongoing colinisation that continues today.
These tourists, the majority of which are Australian, are ignoring the risk of safety, Anangu lore and requests from Anangu people not to climb. In the process, these tourists are highlighting the severe lack of respect that many Australian’s have when it comes to Aboriginal culture. For years, climbers have been polluting waterways by using waterholes on top of Uluru as a toilet. The risks to personal safety are very real too. Around 40 people have died while climbing. Many have died from heart attacks, heat exhaustion and falling down the rock. Uluru is very steep and without any natural features to stop yourself from sliding, a fall can be extremely unforgiving.
We really can’t wait for the closing date of 26 October to come around. Uluru isn’t something that has to be conquered or a place to fulfill some colonial fantasy. The Australian government reminds Australian tourists to be respectful of other cultures while overseas, why can’t people do the same on Aboriginal land?
Just recently we saw a huge nationwide uproar over projected images being displayed on the Sydney Opera House. The outrage garnered protests and talk across the media with many claiming that the Opera House was a cultural icon that should be respected and not commercialised. How hypocritical is this outrage over the Opera House when the response to the climbing ban, was widespread anger over the idea that non Indigenous visitors would be forced to follow the demands of Anangu Elders. Following the announcement last year, we witnessed nationwide polls showing that over 60% of Australians want the climb to remain open.
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