On the way to Alice Springs...

by Nancy
(California )

My mother and I took a bus tour through Australia's Outback in 1980 to experience the various places, see Ayers Rock and the Olgas. There were hardly any people there at the time.

We were given a tour around the base and it was explained to us how important Ayers Rock was and we should treat the area with respect. Which we did. No one ever mentioned climbing Ayers would be disrespectful.

I ventured as far as "Chicken Rock", the first out-cropping before the chain started. As we walked around the base the ranger told us about certain areas that were considered religiously important to the Aborigine.

One thing I remember was that there was a house built near the base, but it seemed everyone lived outside. The ranger explained that the while the house had been for the Aborigines who lived near there, a dog had died in the house and now they couldn't live in it.

At the time there was an airplane that offered a short tour of Ayers and the Olgas. We took advantage of that and the fly-over beauty is one I'll always remember.

Actually I found the Olgas to be much more interesting and even pretty with the vegetation growing around the crevices.

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I climbed Uluru in 1984

by Lindsay Quayle
(Isle of Man UK )

I visited Ayers Rock in 1984, before it became a huge visitor centre. There was one hotel, still being finshed off, and contact for bookings was by telegraph.

I was "lucky" enough to climb it, and it is a treasured memory, but in those days I was ignorant of what the Aboriginal people felt about it. Since then I have learned more and would dearly love to visit The Rock again. However, after reading your article and what I know now, I would refrain from climbing it again as I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal people and their culture.

I walked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu last year. You are only allowed by Permit now as the Peruvians want to preserve the trail for future generations. Perhaps the Aussie government could do the same, no more climbs, but guided tours of the rock from the ground. It is still an amazing experience to see this gigantic Rock and know its history. There is always helicopter and light aircraft flights for those who want to see the top.

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Ayers Rock in '73

by Paul

I climbed Ayers Rock in '73'. Back then it was called Ayers Rock and it was a prerequisite of our school to climb. If you didn't climb you would get a rap across the head.

What has changed? The aboriginals would make money from their cheap "side of the road" artifacts and almost laughed themselves to death at the stupid tourists handing out money for an unauthentic stick. Maybe they should charge $10.00 to climb which could be considered insurance for any medical necessities arising from accidents.

I was the first to the top despite being the most unfit and least competitive. I even still have the "I climbed Ayers Rock" certificate. I bet they don't hand out a certificate these days.

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Ayers Rock 1970

by John

I was a boy of 8 when we went to Ayers Rock 40 years ago. There was nothing there but the rock. Of course I climbed it! I will always remember it. I wore a hole in the seat of my shorts because I came down on my bum doing the crab-walk all the way!

What about climbing it now? Yes, you should be able to climb it. Use the example of beach access laws -- private property owners cannot keep the public off 'their' section of beach simply because it is in front of their house. You can own the land near the beach, keep people off of it. But you cannot own the beach and you cannot prevent reasonable access to it.

People and cultures are temporary. Ayers Rock is forever.

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