Uluru: Climb or not

by Ross
(Anchorage, Alaska USA)

No, I would't "march into a Buddhist temple in shorts and hiking boots because the monks hadn't pressured "me" not to". But I certainly would do so dressed appropriately while conducting myself in a respectful manner!

No I wouldn't "walk up to the altar rail in an English cathedral to take a flash photo of the communicants", but, again, I would visit the cathedral.

The analogies are inappropriate. With Uluru it's all or nothing in a sense. Isn't there a way in which visitors could visibly demonstrate their respect yet still make the climb? Should there be? What might it be?

Comments for Uluru: Climb or not

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Uluru Analogies
by: Birgit

Thanks for chiming in, Ross.
Hm, I do see where you are coming from, and I am not so sure the analogies are inappropriate. It's probably more that everybody twists them as it best suits them.

"With Uluru it's all or nothing in a sense."

There is so much to do and learn at Uluru NP. There are extended walks, you can learn about the Aboriginal culture, the nature... Why is all that regarded as nothing? Their culture is nothing? The flora and fauna and ecology and history is nothing? Only the climb is anything?

We can visit Uluru, just like the cathedral or the temple. We are just asked not to climb the rock, just as we should not climb the altar, or take those flash photos, and we should dress appropriately when visiting a Buddhist temple.

"Isn't there a way in which visitors could visibly demonstrate their respect yet still make the climb? Should there be?"

As I see it, at Uluru we are asked to demonstrate our respect by not climbing.
To ask for a way to climb it respectfully, would that not be like asking how to take those flash photos of the communicants respectfully? Or march into the Buddhist temple in shorts and hiking boots, respectfully?

At least that's my twist on it :-).

Visit, Look. Learn and Breathe in the Beauty but DO NOT CLIMB.
by: Anonymous

There are so many more ways to experience Uluru without being disrespectful to the Anangu people. The walks around the base of Uluru are unbelievable, there is so much more to this monolith when walking close by than one would eve imagine.

A visit to the Cultural Centre in the national park and providing yourself with a reasonable amount of time to read and view the history culture and beliefs of the Anangu is a must when first arriving at Uluru so that one can gain a better and clear understanding of just what Uluru means to them and why they would prefer you to not climb.

Think of it like this: would you go to the Vatican or St Paul's Cathedral in London or the Sacred Coeur in Paris and immediately without any thought or information just climb to the top up the outside of the building just for the view? I think not. Well on arriving at Uluru look on it as one of these sacred landmarks and think again.

My husband and I were just there a few weeks ago and loved every minute of learning about the nature, the history the culture and the dream time and would gladly have stayed on longer taking in the beauty of the area. Visit, Look. Learn and breathe in the beauty but DO NOT CLIMB.

Uluru Sceneries from Malaysia Airlines' aircraft cockpit
by: Zaileen Hashim


We have an interesting sceneries shots taken from the cockpit. One of Malaysia Airlines pilot took these beautiful photos of Uluru and posted it on our blog at www.malaysiaairlinesblog.com.

Thank you.

Zaileen Hashim
The Living MH Blog Team
Malaysia Airlines

Resume Ayers Rock
by: Anonymous

Everyone should climb Ayers Rock unless prevented by health/fitness issues.

Question remains
by: Ross

Still there should be a way to do both - climb & respect the sentiments of the native people. Maybe not.

Ayers Rock for all the World
by: Steven

The aboriginal people have the right to practice religion how they like.

I believe that I also have the right to have a relgious experience when climbing this geological marvel.

If you feel the need to give lip service to the 'religious' side of things, sit at the bottom, but if you are like me, climb the rock as a god given right!

Climb or not Climb
by: Anonymous

I don't believe the analogies between cathedrals etc are correct.
MAN builds a cathedral, a temple and so forth. Therefore he generally owns it.

Nature does not belong to any one person or people, it belongs to the world.

I will climb the rock and marvel at the natural history of it.

I don't believe I'll be disrepecting anyone by doing so. If someone chooses to feel disrespected by my legal action that's their choice.

I don't wish to offend anyone but that's my view on the matter.

Ignorance will cause damage
by: Steno

If you would walk into a Buddhist temple in shorts and boots, then you would know WHY it was inapproppriate. Of course! You have enough understanding of what a temple is about.

So, as long as we see Uluru just as a piece of rock, just nature, we are still ignorant of our own ignorance. And all ignorant action can and will only cause great damage.

Anyone who cannot perceive why Uluru is a temple better stay away from there, for merely the presence of such people already causes damage to the energies of the temple.

Seen the movie "Avatar"? That is about ignorance causing damage.

Learn our wisdom

Please do not call it ayers rock its Uluru and has been long before you arrived. Do not walk on our Traditional sacred sites that have been our lore forever. Why can't you learn and respect what is our advice to you to protect you. If you climb you place yourself in the path of the ancestors and the spirits. Long after you leave Uluru will you then feel the effects of your stupid decision. Are you willing to confront and ignore 1400 generations of ancestors. You may never be the same afterwards so please do not make your decision to climb lightly.
STOP and THINK what will happen to me afterwards.

Please be careful.

Uluru climb
by: Dakota

Brugit, yes, there is much to do and learn at Uluru NP. These are not regarded as “nothing”? They are, however, things that are available to an even greater degree elsewhere. Alice Springs comes to mind. The “rock”, however, is not available elsewhere.
One shows respect by wearing nice clothing or covering one’s head or, on the other hand, removing ones hat or merely being quiet. One does not attend places of worship to photograph communicants. As for climbing an alter (?), a bit of a stretch for an analogy don’t you think? I have heard of the sport of rock climbing. Alter climbing? Not so much.
Some more "inconvenient" truths: Cultures come and go. Just as they are not all the same, they are not "equal" - i.e. they serve their 'members' by varying degrees. Do "hunting/gathering' cultures work well in environments with little or nothing left to hunt or gather? Do we serve anyone's long term interests by artificially keeping long out-dated cultures "alive" (often for our own 'amusement' - Especially considering the cost both to the dominate culture and, more to the point, to the people who's culture has been left behind)? I live with this dilemma daily as I live near an American Indian Reservation.

Quick test: Does anyone opposed to the views expressed here know of a culture that is not "great". "rich", "intricate", "fascinating", etc, etc, etc.? When I think of the renowned authors and poets, the talented musicians and composers, the great leaders and law makers, the courageous soldiers and statesmen, the remarkable inventions in use today, the amazing buildings, monuments and edifices of the indigenous people of Australia. And, OMG, the food! And who doesn’t love a meal at a local Aboriginal restaurant? – Well, the mind fairly reels!!!

I've just completed a lengthy trip through OZ, mostly "outback". From Townsville to “The Alice and from Darwin to Port Arthur I've seen the tatters of the "aboriginal" culture. (Please refrain from getting all “PC” on me – any explanation (blame) for why things are the way they are and any culpability of the European incursion is another discussion entirely. I’m dealing with the way things are or, at least, the way that they appear to me to be.) Compare it with the experience of the native peoples of New Zealand! Night & day! The Maoris’ retain their identity and aspects of their culture that continue to serve them, yet assimilate to the modern world with great success.

As much as I would like to treat everyone, especially as a guest in their country, with respect, I refuse to hide it behind a false adulation of their “culture”.

If Australians don’t want people to climb Uluru they should make it against the law to do so. Otherwise park employees should quit making excuses as to why one can’t do so (too hot, too windy, too late, etc etc.) AND get rid of the unsightly post and chain route to the top. 'Til then be safe Ross & have a great climb!

Too True - Ross
by: Anonymous

It is the attitude and not the action that is the key.

But what about the geology? Ayers Rock was declared World Heritage for its geology 7 years before it was given cultural status.

It does not add to my experience of a geological feature to be told how indigenous people used it or worshipped it. Why should it?

This is not racist. They are welcome to their beliefs, but they are of no interest to me.

I am not particularly interested in most of the world's cultures and histories. I don't generally visit temples or churches of any denomination. They are not where my interests lie.

The one sided view of Ayers Rock as only an aboriginal cultural thing, was to me offensive, and actually lessened my experience at Ayers Rock rather than adding to it.

It is a geologic wonder that has had a religion attached to it. It is akin to marvelling only at a dress a woman is wearing and not the woman herself.

Climb or not
by: Scarlett

I am still a child but however I agree with you.
I am doing a project on Australian landmarks and have decided to research for Uluru.

Climbing the rock does not give respect to aborigines whether you're one or not. Would you like it if I burst into a christian church with something like a saree on?

Good point and for the climbers: next thing you know it'll be charging into an Indian temple in ski boots and a t-shirt.

Thank you for writing this article.

Be Respectful
by: Jenifer

Uluru is a sacred site to the original owners of the land, regardless of whether you think it is. It is disrespectful to climb on something that is sacred to someone else. Our sacred sites are our Churches, our Mosques, our place of worship and our homes. How would you feel if someone climbed up a tree in your yard, defecated off the side, then ripped off a branch as a souvenir?

Not to mention that it is extremely dangerous, people die climbing it!

Why do people want to ruin something so unique and breathtaking to Australia? This is a site to be proud of, to be admired and to be respected.

To Climb or Not?
by: Anonymous

I respect the traditional owners and have lived and worked alongside many Aboriginals in the bush and remote communities and they need the tourists and the money they bring to the town and Northern Territory. If we didn't pay to see Ayers Rock and climb it there would be no issue about traditional owners they need the money for their people and community.

by: Anonymous

Very difficult to climb

2-edged sword...
by: Sophie

I have been reading the sequence of chat comments about climbing Uluru or not. It is a very difficult one and having grown up in Australia, I can kind of understand both sides of the story.

Climbing Uluru does go against the beliefs of the Indigenous people and if you do climb Uluru, you do need to be aware that it is a sacred ground for other beliefs and the utmost care should be taken to respect the area. However, it is not illegal to climb the rock and climbing the rock is entirely up to ones point of view. In saying that, the principle of respecting the land applies to many areas of life and natural landscapes... the Grand Canyon, for example. That too is a sacred monument of America and in trekking through the canyons you need to be respectful to the land and the culture surrounding it, not disturbing the landscape, littering or leaving your mark. Also, the canyons come with a high degree of person health risks, and those choosing to hike through the canyons are prepared to take those risks, regardless. Likewise, Uluru has health risks that do seriously need to be understood - people have died climbing it.

For a practical application, bitching about someone behind their back. There is no law in bitching about people; you won't go to jail for bitching, however, how does what you've said affect other people? I'm just saying, there is no 'law' about not climbing Uluru, however, if you do, how will that affect other people? Also, those people who do bitch are aware that it will hurt other people if they found out, and I think the same applies in this situation.

When it is all said and done, there is no 'right and wrong' to be perfectly exact, however, anybody who climbs Uluru or simply looks at it does need to be respectful and think carefully of how their action will affect others.

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