Don't ban the Uluru climb!

by Moo

I thought long and hard about whether to climb Uluru or not. My husband and I did the walk around first and were very careful not to photograph the sacred sights.

The climb was opened the next day and we decided to do it - figuring it may be our only chance.

We rationalised the decision based on the fact that the rock was here long before the Aboriginals settled in the area.

I am interested in Aboriginal culture but I am not prepared to live by their cultural beliefs, in fact, many of their dreamtime stories set in the Uluru area are forbidden to be told to people outside of their culture - so even if I desired to have a full understanding I am denied that in advance.

People who are wanting to be respectful and not climb compare climbing the rock to climbing over a church... but I see a stronger correlation with Islam and their ban on showing a picture of Mohammad, not only are followers not allowed to show the picture, NO ONE CAN.

Many people think this is unfair, including some governments.

Some people who choose not to climb Uluru seem to think they are superior to people who do choose to climb against the wishes of the local Aboriginals.

Well, I say there are very few in that number, who choose not to climb, who have any true or profound understanding of what Aboriginal culture is all about themselves, choosing to stay off the climb might make you obedient, respectful and nice but it doesn't educate you and it doesn't make you right.

In my short stay in Uluru I got the impression that Aboriginal culture had a strong series of customs based on exclusion.

They exclude the men from the womens sections and vice versa - the opposite sex may not even view the segregated areas - which is why photographs are forbidden FOR EVERYONE.

The serious and strong attempts to get everyone off the rock is an extension of the culture of exclusion that I don't live by.

The Aboriginals say it best themselves "We don't Climb" That's fine, don't climb, don't allow your families and extended community to climb - stick with your beliefs and don't impose them on everyone else on Earth.

The climb itself was amazing and I feel strongly that people should be allowed to climb if they want to.

I am horrified by the thought that it might be banned, in my opinion that will be a tragedy.

That's all I wanted to say.
Thanks for reading.

Comments for Don't ban the Uluru climb!

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Uluru climb
by: Birgit

It's obvious you really thought very long and hard about it.
Thank you for taking the time to write. You offer much food for thought.

Hear Hear
by: Martin Schofield

I climbed it too for very much the same reasons and I could not put it better myself. Can't see the climb ever being banned. The economical lure is too great. The entire area has been developed, and beautifully too, geared toward the tourist. Nowhere near the attraction without the climb.

by: Anonymous

Oh dear. Clearly, you did not speak with the indigenous tour groups at the base of the rock. They are more than happy to share their stories. You've really missed an opportunity there.

People go to the toilet on top of the rock, and it ends up in the kid's watering holes, and they get really very sick. Well done on encouraging that sort of tourists' ignorance.

Well done for being a hero and pretending that you know the reasons the locals don't want you to climb. Maybe you should have asked them. I'm happy to come and pollute your back yard if you like.

Don't ban the climb!
by: Moo

It's true I did not take a guided tour, but I certainly did visit the cultural centre and read all the posted signs.

The signs around the rock CLEARLY state that many of the dreamtime stories are secret and may not be shared with tourists.

As for people using the rock as a toilet - well that's gross if it's true but I did not see any human excrement anywhere on top or anywhere near the climb at all.

Ayers Rock itself (as well as the whole national park) was absolutely pristine and free from any garbage, we saw none.

By the way, did you know I have photo's of little fishes living on top of Ayers Rock? Actual vertebrates? Seeing that alone made the climb worthwhile, it was exhilarating!

Those rock pools up on top mustn't be polluted - otherwise such magic just couldn't happen.

In addition, the pools around the base of the rock were full of the cleanest and clearest water I had ever seen in my life.

There are pretty serious fences surrounding the waterbeds and plenty of signs forbidding swimming, it is still a national park from what I understand...

Don't Climb Uluru - respect the traditional owners of the land
by: Anonymous

The common mentality of the Australian climber is, "the rock belongs to everyone and everyone should be able to climb it." This mentality really misses the point of the argument. It's a matter of mutual cultural respect. We've already taken the land from the Aboriginal people and now we further desecrate their sacred sites and places of cultural significance by putting a chain into Uluru and allowing hundreds of thousands of people to climb it. The Australian Government speaks of Reconciliation but how can that be achieved when it disrespects the culture it attempts to apologise to by allowing the climb. The Anangu people, the traditional owners of Uluru ask people not to climb because it is disrespectful to their culture. The Federal Government needs to take a strong stance against the climb to promote Reconciliation around Australia.

Ban the Climb
by: Nev

I can understand that you think your reasoning is sound, but its not logical. For starters, the reason why the beliefs of the traditional owners should be upheld is because they have been acknowledged as the traditional owners of that land. The old "my home, my rules" rule applies.

Secondly, just because someone hasn't owned something since the dawn of time doesn't mean they have no rights to that. If that is the case, then by your logic, there should be no boundaries between countries, and no one has the right to refuse anyone entry to our country or anyone else, because we've only been here for 200 years.

If you don't respect the traditional owners rights because they've only been the owners of the land for less than 50,000 years, then by the same token its OK to go to ANZAC cove on ANZAC day and get pissed and litter the place with empty VB cans and piss on the memorials... after all the Turks have only been there for a couple of thousand years, and the Aussies were only there for a couple of months, and at no time during the Gallipoli campaign did they actually have much claim to that land as their own.

Ditto for any church, or war cemetery. In fact, unless you can prove some traditional ownership of your own home, dating back say a million or so years, by your own reasoning you have no right to fence if off for yourself, or to lock anyone out.

by: Moo

Human beings are territorial by nature.

We are also natural invaders of the territories of other peoples and we are warlike creatures.

Europeans invaded Australia and took the land over 200 odd years ago. This was not the first and will not be the final time an Indigenous population is displaced.

We won the war, an unfair war, against a gentle people who had no chance of winning.

I share in the white guilt. I am sorry.

I sincerely wish our history was different, that human nature was different.

But it is not.

I have already made the climb, and may never have another chance to climb again, but I would fight to see that the climb remains open for any person who wants to climb - because it is truly amazing.

I absolutely DO NOT ACCEPT that the rock belongs to any one group.

I absolutely DO NOT ACCEPT that the religion and primitive beliefs of any one group should EVER be visited on any other person and restrict their freedoms.

And finally, I ABSOLUTELY REJECT the ridiculous notion that having the government ban the climb outright will do a SINGLE THING other than create resentment and anger, it will NEVER aid reconciliation.

Anyone who thinks that banning the climb outright will aid in reconciliation needs a remedial social studies lesson. STAT.

Ban on the climb
by: Anonymous

I understand that an outright ban of the climb would result in cultural tensions however it is necessary for the Australian Government to demonstrate respect of the cultural beliefs of this land's traditional owners. Allowing a climb on a place of cultural significance does not demonstrate this at all.

Are you aware the Racial Discrimination Act is currently suspended in Australia? Doesn't this seem wrong? The UN seems to think so! It was suspended by Howard for the Northern Territory intervention, so the government could go in due to suspected child abuse. Of the 7500 children examined only 4 possible cases of child abuse was found. The Government needs to show some respect and reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act.

Not visiting
by: American Tourist

My family and I are planning a trip to Australia in 2 years. By that time, the ban may be in effect. If so, we will not be visiting Uluru. I respect the culture and everything, but I believe areas like this need a draw to get people to visit the middle of nowhere.

I can see Ayers Rock in pictures and on YouTube. I want to climb it. If not, we won't be spending money on flights, meals, gas, accommodations, etc in that area. Thus, causing a decrease in the surrounding economy. We will just save 1500 dollars and go home early.

Get facts right first
by: Central Australian

What is right and what?s wrong? Every decent person would know the answer, those who don?t, well you might have missed something important in your life, I feel sorry for your children. Just to get the facts right, you can?t compare the Central Australia history with the rest of Australia.

Some of you know that the history started 200 years ago, which is correct, but not for Central Australia. The story of white man living in Uluru goes back about 80 years ago, til then those elderly Aborigines you see these days, where still kids running around naked and looking for bush tucker, sleeping under the stars and living life. Suddenly the invasion of white Australians came and everything changed for indigenous people.

Have a think about it how you would feel in their situation? How would you react if you had to change your complete life style you have been living for more than 60000 years, to suit the white men profile from today to tomorrow? Would you really trust the invaders?

I have been living here in Yulara (the resort at Ayers Rock) for more than 5 years, I?m involved in different kind of jobs including working with Anganu people. I had the privilege to learn from the direct source about their culture and how strong they are still connected to the land. Respecting it and living with it.

Did anybody of guys who climbed the rock ever thought why actually the Aborigines don?t wont you climb? Did you make the effort to ask somebody why? Have you questioned why the climb occasionally is closed and why? Probably not otherwise you would not come up with such absurd comments of the climb being closed. With every ignorant tourist, who is in difficulty while up there climbing the rock, the rescue team has to go up there to rescue them, and they get put into great danger as well because it is not an easy exercise, have you ever thought about that? You guys are not just putting yourself into danger but everybody else with a common sense as well, and you think that?s OK! Maybe you?re right in saying they should not be closing the climb, with one condition to ban all rescue attempts for that person who climbs and gets hurt. In fact everyone who climbs the rock knows, they do it at their own risk, so why putting somebody else into dangers just because of their stupid behavior and ignorance? If they get stuck up there than that is their problem and they have to deal with it, they put themselves into that situation.
If tourists get hurt, or worse die while climbing, Anganu people mourn for their families. They feel responsible because that person got hurt or died on their land and they (Anganu) could not do anything. If a non-indigenous person dies, because they climbed, their souls stays within the area of the Uluru and they don?t belong there, that?s what Anganu belief.

Think first before you decide to climb, see the whole picture not just what you see with your eye.

Why not visit Uluru if you can't do the climb?
by: JBB

@American Tourist, you're not going to Uluru if you can't do the climb, why not? Do you think the climb is the only attraction of this fantastic national park? It's bit the same thought that Americans have of my country The Netherlands, they expect us to have tulips all year round and we still walk on wooden shoes! Well we don't!

In July 2010 we visited Uluru for the second time, why a second time? Simple, the first time in 1992 it was magic without doing the climb and now it again was fantastic! Get up early, watch the sunrise, very impressive, make the walks there, visit Kata Tjuta too, make walks there.

Unforgettable memories without the climb. Personally I think everybody should respect the wish of the Aboriginal people not to climb Uluru. We already decided the first time not to climb. I think lots of people underestimate the climb, we saw people with young children climbing, irresponsible in my opinion. People indeed don't think about the risks, also not about the risks for a rescue team.

I think it's mainly a matter of respect not to climb Uluru, we want respect for our culture, we don't want our holy places to be damaged and it's only normal the Aboriginal people also don't want that. I hope to come back to Uluru for a third time and enjoy it just as much as the two other times without doing the climb.

Missing Link - Moo, Silly Cow
by: Whyallee

Hey, Sorry Moo, but you've missed it again. Or maybe you've actually hit it but don't know it.

You're right when you say we shouldn't BAN climbing a sacred site. If we were fair dinkum about reconciliation, people out of understanding and respect (reconciliation) would naturally choose not to climb but rather immerse in the culture and feel great from that emotional connection, rather than physical connection of "shit, what a's all flat, eh".

"Could have told you that at the bottom, eh"

Ah, Thank God for American Tourists
by: Whyallee

Gee, the fact that I couldn't climb right to the torch of the Statue Of Liberty didn't stop me from visiting and immersing in US culture.

I did a bit of research before hand and visited and respected American cultural and religious sites with a respectful attitude of their culture.

Pity lots of oversees tourists don't do the same in our outback!

@ Whyallee
by: Anonymous

Two thumbs up for Whyallee!!

Let's not call for respect and call names in the same post.
by: Moo

I'm over this already.
I've climbed - you haven't.
I know - you don't.
It's magic up there. Magic.
I'd love to climb it again, I would if I could.
Deny yourself the climb for any reason you desire, encourage others to avoid it.
Do whatever you like.
I've been, it doesn't hurt me if you don't go.
In reality, it won't hurt me if I never manage to go again. But it will be a shame.
That climb is magic, amazing, awesome, wonderful.

You have no idea and an unqualified opinion.

In respect
by: Anonymous

Do you, Moo, know any Indigenous people? In saying that I mean do you or have you ever had any great friendship with a person of Indigenous heritage?

I don't mean to offend you as you have offended me as an Indigenous person but your comments appear to be extremely uneducated on the topic. I agree completely with the right of free speech but it is extremely offensive to read uneducated comments on such a complex and deep topic in Australia.

I will leave you with a good resource in the hope that you will better educate yourself on the history and current abuse of human rights in Australia. It is not specifically related to Anangu culture but it would be a good start for you if you choose to really understand. But then again, if you don't, that's okay. It's your decision and I respect that.

Kind Regards

No title
by: Moo

Do I know of any aboriginals? Have I ever had a close relationship with one?
My own father was quarter caste and my extended family has many aboriginals within it.
I do not identify myself as aboriginal, however.

I also attended Goodna primary school in Brisbane's west, the student body was made up of many cultures including a strong component of aboriginals who were also many of my neighbors.
Goodna primary school had an excellent component of aboriginal studies. We even had a Gunya in our year 3 classroom. I remember it well.
I did indigenous studies at QUT in 2002 as an elective as part of my social science course. I got a distinction BTW.

Ayers Rock and the surrounding issues had never been brought up by any single aboriginal I'd ever encountered; ever.
First I ever knew of the issue was in October last year (2010) when I visited the rock.

I'm sorry if you're offended, but I have the right to my own opinion.
If it upsets you, don't read.

Oh dear Moo
by: Anonymous

I agree that Uluru is indeed a beautiful an awe inspiring place and you shouldn't have to give reasons on why you decided to climb. We all have to make decisions that we can live with and clearly you weighed up the factors that were important to you and went up. However your sense of entitlement and sadly a poor understanding of cultural values is appalling. I am happy that you found it magical up there, but perhaps in the future you should show some gratitude for the privilege to have been allowed up and some more respect for the people of the land.

Well said MOO.
by: Peter

Moo - you are very wise and well spoken. I agree with you completely.

I would like to hear from someone who desperately wanted to climb the rock and chose not to. No teetotaler ever condemned prohibition.

Ayers Rock is magical at the top. I spent five hours on it and explored it from one end to the other and across. Any one who says it is flat has not been up there. Any one who thinks climbing it is just for the view is also grossly mistaken.

The rock talks to you. The sounds the different layers make are wonderful, the waterholes and little section of scrub are fantastic. The plants and the sense of isolation are not to be missed.

Many people miss out on these due to time constraints and/or ignorance. Tourists can be awful no matter where they are.

The toilet issue is a Park Management issue not a climbing issue. I saw not litter or waste on the rock but plenty around the base. There are many ways this could be addressed.

The park could learn much by following how White Island in New Zealand is managed - granted with only a small fraction of the tourists or The Half dome at Yosemite (great video on website Rocks with Charisma.

If we persist with US and THEM rather than just US we will never reconcile.

There are profound cultural differences between the "Whites" and "Blacks". (not dissimilar to the Indians and the Fijians)These are unlikely to be solved in our lifetime, if ever. We need to compromise. We need to accept that there really is no right or wrong in this. It should be a choice.

For the "thinkers". What do you think the average Australian thinks when they save up their hard earned money and travel to the Red Centre? What image of Aborigines do they come back with?

A race that bans the climb; needs special laws for alcohol and pornography; gets government funding to do no work and is not evident in the work force proportional to their population. (40% of Alice Springs is Aboriginal - we saw none in employment in the shopping centre and only two at Ayers Rock). This is the surface view. The deeper view is even more troubled with the "Black Mafia", drugs, assault and burglaries.

There are many issues to deal with and none of them will be fixed by bans or simplistic views of what is right and wrong or decent.

Don't climb it!
by: Anonymous

Aborigines say they didn't want people to climb it, so don't. We should respect their wishes. And also, I went on a tour to Uluru and they told us heaps about their culture and didn't exclude us at all. And erosion is actually making Uluru smaller and climbing definitely isn't helping. If people keep climbing it, it will become so small that it won't be the biggest rock anymore.

Against the climb
by: Aboriginal Supporter

The Aboriginals are not just saying, "DON'T CLIMB" because their culture says it's wrong, they say it because their culture says that they are responsible for the rock, any idiot who climbs it and the flora and fauna surrounding it.

Also the erosion of Uluru is appalling, thousands of idiots climbing to conquer it. Well I say you're not conquering anything, just ruining and changing a beautiful landscape. Uluru does erode naturally, but it does so very very slowly! If climbing isn't banned then in a few thousand years, there'll be nothing left to see!

Also plenty of people are injured, or die on the climb every year. This is what upsets the Aboriginals the most!

And because there are no toilets up top, people believe they can relieve themselves upon the sacred monolith, thus when it rains all the germs and bacteria found in excretion is released upon the waterholes nearby, then the animals that drink there end up with an infection, and DIE!

So please think carefully before you do climb. I do hate idiots, but I hate it more when they die, before I can tell them the truth.

Thank You.
And don't climb, it's your idiotic life you're risking.

climb reply
by: Anonymous

The climb itself was amazing and I feel strongly that people should be allowed to climb if they want to.

Show some respect
by: Anonymous

Dear Moo/ you refer to your family as quarter cast! You are aboriginal or not, it's like being pregnant - you are either pregnant or not - or your way of thinking of being quarter pregnant! Listen to the Owners of the land and understand their reasoning. The Anangu people are very special and have great respect for conservation and preservation, this land was their means of survival and existence a lot longer than the last couple of hundred years. Mr friend just purchased a farm in north west NSW. He owns it and has occupied it for about 3 months. If I go there I would obey his rules wouldn't I? The Anangu people are not shutting people out like farmers, they are inviting you in to share what they have and make you feel very welcome. The Anangu people feel responsible for you, and the amount of adverse events that occur horrifies them and not forget the rescue units that put their own safety at risk for these idiots that do not follow basic instructions or are not fit to climb! Then in return we have a number of despicable individuals as a way of showing their lack of appreciation and piss on their home. You have missed the whole message!

hello peeps:)
by: Anonymous

Hey everyone!

I am a young person who stumbled upon this site and have taken great delight in reading all these comments from people, some who think clearly and reasonably, and others who are ... maybe a little 'culture proud'??

OK, I'm a white person who believes in equality, human rights and ... well, enjoying life! I've read all the Uluru-related blogs on this site and let me tell you - some people just go over the top! Humans are equal. Rights are fair. No 'religion, cult, group or race' has any superior control over a land. Respect and equality applies to everyone and everything.

We are 'forbidden by aboriginal law' to climb Uluru, but they can slash our tyres, damage our women, set fire to houses, be violent in public, steal our belongings - but this is OK because they believe we invaded 'their' land. I disagree.

peeps, you need to get over it. I reckon some people just like to be difficult and a stick in the mud coz they like to be :)

One should not trust white!
by: Anonymous

It is in the history that white people have never respected anyone. They terrorise people. Take their land, destroy their culture and then celebrate within the boundary to feel proud of!

One should not trust white!

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