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Ban on Uluru climb should save quite a few lives

November 9, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The decision to ban climbing Uluru from October 2019 should save a few lives each year – and deter behaviour such as stripping on the rock, drinking beer on top of it or belting golf balls off it.

A French dancer stripped down to a bikini and danced on top of Uluru in 2010 to salute Aboriginal culture, so she said. She was fined AUD 200. At least one golfer has hit a golf ball from the top of the rock and a number of people have died on it.

The climb has killed over 35 people since the 1950s. A row of bronze plaques, discreetly placed near the start of the climb, commemorates those who have lost their lives. They fall into two categories: younger people, who die of misadventure, wandering off the path and plunging to their deaths (sometimes at night and under the influence or drink or drugs); and older people who suffer heart attacks and collapse.

Uluru

Anangu “feel great sadness if visitors to their land are killed or injured”, Ayers Rock Resort notes.

After more than 70 years of tourism, Uluru will be off limits for climbers from October 2019, local authorities have confirmed. The news has been carried around the world.

The landmark is an Aboriginal sacred site but despite pleas not to climb it, an estimated 60,000 people do so.

Earlier this year, the then Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, created a great stir by urging Aboriginal custodians to re-consider their traditional disapproval and let tourists climb the rock. Giles (who incidentally was the first head of government in Australia to have Indigenous Australian ancestry) said the rock was a tourism icon like the Eiffel Tower.

Giles said a climb could become a tourist experience like climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, though he made clear to the ABC he was “fully aware that the Sydney Harbour Bridge does not have the spiritual significance of Uluru”.

Giles’ suggestion was swiftly brushed aside.

Written by Peter Needham

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