Is it right or wrong to climb Uluru? - Have a think

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 Australian 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, when those elderly Aborigines you see these days were 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 would you feel in their situation? How would you react if you had to change your complete life style you have been living for more than 60,000 years, change from today to tomorrow to suit the white men profile? 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 any of the guys who climbed the rock ever think 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? Why?

Probably not otherwise you wouldn't 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 isn't 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 shouldn't 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 that they do it at their own risk, so why putting somebody else into dangers just because of their stupid behaviour and ignorance? If they get stuck up there than that's 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) couldn't do anything. If a non-indigenous person dies, because they climbed, their soul 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.

Comments for Is it right or wrong to climb Uluru? - Have a think

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by: Berroff

Oops, I just failed your decency test. I guess you work as moral?s judge? Every mountain or rock we climb involves a risk. If we follow your advice we?ll have to ban climbing everywhere because some people may be unhappy or others may get hurt?

Then we?ll close all rescue & emergency services for people in need (e.g. those who surf, sail or fish in the ocean, who go bushwalking, climbing, skydiving, etc. because their activities are risky) and start praying to the aboriginal gods to come and help us...

What an appalling nonsense! Take a day off and spend a day reading in the nearest library ? it may help!

by: Birgit

Hi Berroff,

As someone who does a lot of mountain climbing in the Alps I have to tell you that those popular, easy routes and treks that are frequented by tourists and inexperienced hikers, by people who do not have the experience to judge the conditions themselves, do indeed get closed when the prevailing conditions are deemed too dangerous.

Experienced climbers are generally smart enough to stay off a wall in bad conditions, they don't need to be told.

Sure, there will always be rescues. Idiots who go anyway, and there will be unpredicted turns in the weather (a climb in the Alps takes a bit longer than a climb up Uluru, and the conditions are not quite as predictable).

But in general, if you want to use mountain climbing or climbing as a comparison, then compare apples to apples, i.e. tourists to tourists, not tourists to climbers.

To criticize that Uluru climb gets closed when the conditions are likely to cause rescues is ridiculous. Just have a look at how many totally hapless, overweight, unfit etc., totally clueless tourists are clambering up that rock every day!

Maybe the conditions would not cause you to get into trouble, that does not mean that nobody else will need to be rescued or die.

Decency Test?
by: Anonymous

Hi Berroff

There is no decency test to pass, either way you are a decent person or you are not. You missed the whole point, and no I'm not a moral judge, I'm a person who has an open mind to learn from different cultures and see the different aspects of life, but I don't expect you to understand that, which is ok, because every person has the right to express their opinion. As smart as you are, I thought you would know that aborigines don't have any gods, maybe you should follow your own advice and go to library and do some readings.

There are some tourists visiting Uluru, who put themselves into a dangerous situation because of their ignorance or not following the park ranger's advice, like climbing the Rock where they are not suposed to climb. I'm sure your not one of them - on the other hand I could be wrong again.

Tourists are clambering up the rock !!!
by: Berroff


Thank you so much for your advice.

I couldn?t stop laughing though. In other places around the world (incl. Oz) people who climb are called mountaineers, not idiots. Comparing Uluru with the Alps ? what a joke! I did climb Uluru hands free, my 13 y.o. son did the same. It takes barely an hour to get to the top, although we?ve spent the whole day exploring every corner of the rock. Interesting place ? no doubt, but if everyone is after some real natural beauty or climbing (as well as friendly people & no stupid restrictions) he should go next door to Cradle mountain or NZ.

We waited 2 days until ?the weather conditions? finally were right to open the gate. Each day at the base the wind was well under 2m/s, and temperatures in the low 20?s. At the top it is always a bit windier, but there is no anemometer to even guess what is the wind speed. Every rock or mountain is like that! The only difference is the people.

People need freedom, not bans, fences & superstition!

I?m atheist and not an expert in religion, but aborigines have more gods that many other religions together. I don?t suggest you go to the library to study them ? try something else instead.

That was the point!
by: Anonymous

That was the point. There are no mountaineers on Uluru. You made the comparison, not I. I just pointed out why it didn't work for your line of reasoning.

by: Anonymous

I think it is right when the inhabitants of the area say yes. It is always good to respect the customs of the people. But then again who is in charge of the rock. In my opinion its just a rock, but as a cultural heritage it must be respected.

Spot the difference...
by: Berroff

Dear Whyallee

It looks like you have some difficulty in working out what is a building (e.g. church, cathedral) and landscape (e.g. rock, monolith, mountain). Churches & altars belong to the people who made them (usually private property), while nature & national parks belong to all of us. I do apologize for having too little respect for any kind of sacred places, superstition & religion in general, and think it is about time to get rid of all this nonsense. I’m not trying to tell what you shall believe in, but please don’t tell me that every rock, river, or mountain we have is already declared sacred by/for someone and as such we have to treat it as his/her property and obey his/her “traditional” laws.

Climbing with respect
by: Hugh, Arizona, USA

Hi Birgit,

First off all thanks for your terrific website, it is a goldmine of information. I've been dreaming about visiting Oz for years, I keep putting it off because I would want to take off a couple of months to do it properly, and that's very hard when you are a corporate slave. But your site has helped to make me determined to make the trip somehow. And if I make it to Uluru and the weather cooperates, I will climb it with a clear conscience.

Why? Well, first of all, I'm not one of those people who stupidly talk about "conquering" a mountain. It's like saying that if an ant crawls up your leg, it has conquered you. I've always loved mountains and other beautiful places, and I consider them sacred in a way that is perfectly compatible with climbing them. They're not sacred in the sense of being surrounded with taboos, rituals and myths, but in being places where you can lose yourself and feel one with the vastness of nature. My philosophy is that if I approach the mountain with humility, then it may let me climb to the top, and if so I feel privileged. That is the spirit in which I climb mountains here in Arizona. I hope that makes sense.

Listening to the arguments against climbing, they all seem to be saying, "well of course to us ignorant whites, it's just a big rock, but it's sacred to the Aborigines, so we must walk on eggshells and go along with their beliefs at all costs even if we don't share them." It's ironic that I seem to regard Uluru as more sacred (in my own way) than the whites who tell me not to climb it.

Also I've read a lot about the huge rates of alcoholism in the Aborigine community at Uluru and the fact that children as young as six have been having sex in exchange for petrol which they sniff to get high. It seems that people climbing on their rock is the least of their problems, quite frankly.

Of course if people are really peeing and pooping on the rock, then that's an argument for reducing the number of people allowed to climb, better educating them, and providing toilet facilities at the base (if they don't already.) But that's a separate issue. And as I understand it, Uluru is a world heritage site which means the Australian government is getting funds from Unesco to preserve the park for all mankind, so it seems to me that restrictions which go against this goal would be problematical.

I always strive to leave no trace behind when I climb a mountain, and with all due respect to Aboriginal beliefs, they are not binding on me, any more than taboos against drawing Mohammed. So that is why I will climb if I get the chance. I will do it in a respectful way, and I would ask anyone who is offended, what damage have I actually done?

Who decides what is right and wrong?
by: Anonymous

I'm not sure how the aborigines enter into this. The rock was around long before the aborigines and it will be around long after they are gone.

It is not right.
by: Kelly

Wow. I cannot believe the ignorance or arrogance of all the people who have commented.

The white people who invaded this already populated land took everything away, infected the people and the land, and now we cannot even leave a sacred place alone.

WHY do people insist its somehow their 'right' to climb a mountain? The earth is NOT your property, it belongs to EVERYONE, and if there are people uncomfortable and unhappy with what you want to do, maybe you should respect that and actually learn something from it. Especially when we have taken SO much from the orginal inhabitants of this land who actually cared for the place.

The earth does not revolve around YOU and what YOU want to do.

You're mistaken.
by: Detroit

I spoke with an aboriginal elder before the climb, he said the reason many fear climbing it is that they're not strong enough to do it, and get hurt or killed in the process.But he said strong young men like my friend and I are free to do so as long as we keep ourselves and others safe.

So, a lot of morons like you who are stupid and over politically correct should actually ask someone who has lived their life in their own culture, rather than flogging your opinion which you established from daytime TV.

Rescue not a reason not to climb the rock
by: Bob

You stated in the original post
"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 isn't an easy exercise. Have you ever thought about that?

Well then in that case do not go out of your front door in case you might get into an accident that required a rescue.

Most importantly DO NOT drive a car then just in case you have a accident (your fault or not) and get trapped requiring rescue crews to cut you out.

Do not go into a shop just in case the roof falls down and traps you requiring a rescue crew to attend.

Do not fly in a plane just in case it crashes requiring a rescue crew to save you.

Do not go into the surf just in case you get trapped by a rip requiring the surf life guards to risk their life to save you.

What a crazy point.

Perhaps the original owners hand back the money that they have received when they signed for lease knowing that it would be open for it to be climbed.

by: Marinfullsuss

One of the principal reasons we visited Uluru was to climb the rock. We used a local tour company, and whilst they did not mention climbing the rock in their tour itinerary, they did not mention any local objections, nor any risks. However, when on the tour our guide laid it on thick about hazards, plus cultural sensitivities. He was totally negative about the climb. It's clear that the company must know that some tourists will book with them in the belief that they can do the climb with no problems and they are very happy to take your money on that basis. If climbing generates so many problems, at least make it clear in your literature before people book guys!!! The problem is, of course, this would put off some visitors. I smell more than a whiff of hypocricy.

Climb or NOT to Climb
by: Gloria

Sad as it sounds and ridiculous ,confusing.
The facts are clear or nor clear?

As a joined management of the Uluru world Heritage land.

No one in in charge has taken responsibility and clear up this Climb or NOT je je ..what we as visitors do?..use our morals.common sense or adventurous ignorant senses?
I don't judge non of the comments here,we all free to do as we please to certain stand:risking our lives,taken our loves ones in dangerous adventures,break laws,ignoring warning,forget our principles and knowledge ect ect.

If we have a warning of NO CLIMB I guess we want.
I believe is the management or the government of each place we visit to keep as safe PLUS our common sense .

So may something will make it clear here if we follow the Australian Parks regulations :

That's a really important sacred thing that you are climbing... You shouldn't climb. It's not the real thing about this place. And maybe that makes you a bit sad. But anyway that's what we have to say. We are obliged by Tjukurpa to say. And all the tourists will brighten up and say, 'Oh I see. This is the right way. This is the thing that's right. This is the proper way: no climbing.'
Kunmanara, traditional owner

The climb is not prohibited but we ask you to respect our law and culture by not climbing Uluru.
We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. The climb can be dangerous. Too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru. Many others have been injured while climbing. We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land. We worry about you and we worry about your family. Our traditional law teaches us the proper way to behave.

The climb is physically demanding. Do not attempt it if you have high or low blood pressure, heart problems, breathing problems, a fear of heights or if you are not fit.

- See more at:

Please don't climb Uluru

Parks Australia, which manages the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, says on its website the traditional owners have a responsibility to keep visitors to their land safe.
"We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land. We worry about you and we worry about your family," the Parks Australia website says

‘That’s a really important sacred thing that you are climbing. You shouldn’t climb. It’s not the real thing about this place. The real thing is listening to everything’ - Traditional owner. Anangu traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land. We would like to educate people on the reasons we ask you not to climb and if you choose to climb, we ask that you do so safely. Cultural reasons We ask visitors not to climb Uluru because of its spiritual signifcance as the traditional route of the ancestral Mala men on their arrival at Uluru. We prefer that visitors explore Uluru through the wide range of guided walks and interpretive attractions on offer in the park. At the Cultural Centre you will learn more about these, and about the signifcance of Uluru in Anangu culture. Safety reasons The climb is physically demanding and can be dangerous. At least 35 people have died while attempting to climb Uluru and many others have been injured. At 348 metres, Uluru is higher than the Eiffel Tower, as high as a 95-storey building. The climb is very steep and can be very slippery. It can be very hot at any time of the year and strong wind gusts can hit the summit or slopes at any time. Every year people

About Uluru
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land, jointly managed by its traditional owners Anangu and Parks Australia........

Joint management
First declared a national park under Commonwealth law on 24 May 1977, the Australian Government handed the deeds to the park back to its Anangu traditional owners on 26 October 1985. Anangu then leased to the Director of National Parks, to be jointly managed under a board made up of a majority of traditional owners.
Today this historic moment is known as ‘handback’ and is celebrated in the park every year

Board of management
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is managed jointly by the Director of National Parks and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management. The Director is assisted by Parks Australia, a division of the Australian Government's Department of the Environment, in carrying out his management responsibilities.

They sold out
by: Bob

Gloria. The traditional inhabitants wanted the area returned so bad that they continually lobbied the Australian Government for years. When the area was returned just 15 minutes after being given the area back why then did they lease it back to the Australian Government for money on condition that it remains open to climb. If it is so sacred why did they allow it to be climbed for $$$$$$$. Perhaps you should go and talk to the traditional owners (elders) of the area and see where the money is going and ask them why they sold out their culture.

I have climbed the rock
by: Ron

I have twice climbed the rock and have done it with a clear conscience.
The first time was in 1973 and there was no complaint from anyone against climbing it.
I climbed it again in 2012 and had heard that there was a request not to climb the rock, but saw very little if anything about at Uluru itself. In fact, when driving into the park and paying my fee saw the times posted as to when the rock was open to climb.
I think that it is disingenuous to take people's money that have traveled sometimes many thousands of kilometers and then say don't climb it as it is what a lot of people have traveled to there in the first place.
Mt Everest and many mountains around the world are sacred to one tribe/culture or religion, to me this shouldn't deny me the right to climb it.
That mountain is part of the whole world, not the preserve of one particular tribe/religion etc.
The local people should be getting good financial return from their stewardship and in my opinion would loose a lot, if they closed the rock for climbing.

Only went for the climb
by: Anonymous

I went to Ayres Rock to climb it and I did. With my family. I can see the climb being re-opened within a few years due to lack of tourist money coming in to the area.
If I wasn't able to climb the rock, I would not have paid the fees to enter the park. I would have found a close place to take a few pictures, then headed back to find a rest stop by the road to spend the night. I probably spent $300 in the area.
If it opens again I would go back for another walk up the rock but won't go back if it doesn't, I would just go to Mt Conner instead.

One country, one rule
by: Jason

I am against the ban.
My question is this, after Oct 26, is the climb closed?
Is only closed to non Aboriginal people?

One country, one rule.
If an Aboriginal person is allowed to climb it, then all Australian citizens should be allowed.
If a non Aboriginal Australian is banned then all should be banned (Aboriginal and traditional owners included).
Any thing else is just plain racist.

by: Anonymous

Sure it is ok to climb, it has been so since Len Beadell climbed it in the late 40s.

Just admire and appreciate
by: Barry

Hey, it is just one rock. Surely there are many other rocks in the world that you can climb and just leave this solitary rock alone. Having visited many years ago my wife and I decided to respect the rock, and yes, the indigenous beliefs surrounding the rock, and we did not climb. We did enjoy a walk around the rock and viewed it at sunrise and sunset. Beautiful, awesome and a true example of a patriarchal protector of the land. Want matriarchal, wander through the Olgas, they make a beautiful couple together. So let's be reasonable. Will life as we know it end if we just stop climbing up this one rock? I know the "ME" generation wants it all regardless of others, but surely the great, but almost defunct, Aussie tradition of a fair go could prevail and just visit, look, admire and keep your grubby little footsteps off it. Have a great day.

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