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Uluru climb closes as hundreds scale sacred site on final day

Uluru climb closes as hundreds scale sacred site on final day
October 26, 2019

The last people permitted to ascend Uluru completed their climbs yesterday with hundreds of tourists hoping to be some of the last to climb having to wait for hours this morning after it was closed due to dangerous conditions.

Rangers permanently closed the climb at 4pm and stopped any more people making the trek.

After the closure, Anangu traditional owners celebrated at the base of the rock as a new sign was set up notifying visitors the climb was permanently closed.

Almost 34 years to the day since the Anangu were handed back the title to Uluru, their wishes that people not climb the rock will now be enforced by law with Parks Australia able to impose heavy fines on anyone caught climbing.

The Federal Government agency will also be running patrols to prevent people trying to undertake the climb.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Parks Australia said anyone who chose to ignore the closure would be pursued and that extra patrols of Uluru would be conducted over the weekend, explaining “although we expect our visitors to respect the law and the wishes of traditional owners when they visit, significant penalties can be issued.

"If a serious offence is pursued by Parks Australia it could attract court-ordered fines of up to $10,000."

Traditional owners wanted the climb closed because of Uluru's cultural significance and concerns about safety and the environment and had waited for over two years to officially close the climb

Local Anangu ranger Tjiangu Thomas said it had been an important day for the community and the region, telling ABC “it's rather emotional, having elders who picked up this long journey before I was born, to close the climb, and now they are no longer here but we are carrying on their legacy.

"It's a rather big example of how Anangu are starting to speak up for their country - not only here but for other Indigenous people throughout the nation.

"Hopefully we can use that momentum and keep moving forward to build a brighter future for this generation and the next generation."

Thomas said he believed a lack of education was predominantly the reason people would still want to climb which has become a significant example of what is known as ‘last chance tourism’.

Thomas added "I'd say to those people, come out with an open mind and heart and immerse yourself in the culture.

"Once the focus is away from the climb, there is going to be more focus on the culture and the environment and that is what this park is world heritage-listed for."

However, Thomas said he was still disheartened by how many had come to scale the rock in recent weeks, knowing how the traditional owners felt.

Uluru is a sacred site and of great spiritual significance to First Australians, and Anangu traditional owners say climbing it is not only disrespectful but also dangerous.

In Uluru's history, at least 37 people have died while climbing and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management said they shared in the grieving process each time a visitor died.

The dismantling of Uluru’s chain and trail is expected to commence over the weekend.

Uluru image courtesy of Ayers Rock Resort/Aaron Collins.

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27th June 2019 - Rise in visitors to Uluru in advance of climbing ban

29th May 2019 - Climber suffers cardiac arrest on Uluru

3rd December 2018 - Call for Aboriginal tourism operators in Kings Park Western Australia

2nd August 2018 - Uluru ‘big thing’ destroyed by fire

5th July 2018 - Japanese tourist dies during Uluru climb

1st November 2017 - Climbing Uluru to be banned from October 2019

9th August 2017 - Australia’s great outdoors needs to be more accessible for nature-based tourism

9th July 2017 - NSW the leading State for Aboriginal tourism

14th July 2015 - PATA Report puts a focus on pressures in Asia Pacific Indigenous tourism

9th July 2015 - Big ideas welcomed for Uluru tourism

15th March 2015 - Creating winning alliances in Indigenous tourism

21st January 2014 - Balloon flights proposed as safe alternative to climbing Uluru

29th October 2012 - Uluru climb numbers decline

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