For over a year, it has been decided that there will be no more climbing Uluru, and yet people still fight this. For decades, people have been able to climb, drill and ‘pop a squat’ on Australia’s biggest rock. The end of this tradition is nearing, and thousands of people are flocking to the rock for the last time. The recent images from Uluru almost resemble the chaotic scenes of people rushing to a supermarket once a zombie apocalypse has broken out. UTTER CHAOS. I have never been to Uluru and maybe standing 348 meters from the ground is an amazing, surreal experience. Maybe. However, one thing we know for a fact is that it is extremely disrespectful to the Anangu community- the surrounding Aboriginal people. Is chasing a thrill really worth crapping on, literally, a culture of over 40,000 years? Is it worth perpetuating the already negative treatment towards Aboriginal people? I don’t think it is. Do you? If I wanted to experience a crazy, thrilling adventure I’ll go on adrenaline.com. There is nothing more meaningless than that excuse. There are many reasons as to why you, your friends and others should not climb Uluru; and not just because of the cultural significance.
Earlier this morning, I was checking the recent news surrounding Uluru and what I read horrified me. ’12-year-old girl is lucky to be alive after falling 20 meters while climbing Uluru’- other articles stating 30 meters. 9 more days left and there are people dying to climb. As the date inches closer, people are rushing in droves to experience the climb. This has exacerbated the risk of safety for everyone, including physical injuries, along with biohazards. I think people don’t consider the full risks of their participation with the climb. She could have died. Others could have died and some already have. I find it mind blowing that parents carelessly take their children to a summit in the dessert, knowing there is limited access to medical attention. I find it mind blowing that others are willing to put themselves in that danger. There are no toilets on Uluru and the climb lasts 3 hours. Some people can’t hold it. Some people choose to urinate and defecate on a National landmark. A sacred site. This not only heightens the spread of diseases and illnesses, but it also impacts the local ecosystems.
Rain is already a scarce commodity in the Northern Territory, but the high amount of human interference is poisoning every single creature surrounding Uluru. The peak of the summit, along with the entire trail is littered with fesses and urine. When the rain hits Uluru, gravity washes the raw sewage down, off the rock and into surrounding water sources. Sources which are consumed by animals and people. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that most, if not some of the people that travel to Uluru, have consumed some of these water sources. DISGUSTING! Australian native animals already have a hard-enough time surviving as it is, they don’t need to add the consumption of human excrement to the list. Along with the exposure to fesses, the surrounding environment is being victimised by yet another one of humanity’s specialties. Littering. I don’t what it is about people having the urge to drop whatever rubbish they have, but they do. Environmentally, this is a problem which endangers birds, reptiles and mammals alike. Plastic waste is not only dangerous to animals when consumed but over the course of time it will chemically-poison water sources and create a domino effect of mass extinctions. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park management plan, in the context of discussing threats to the ecosystem, states ‘impacts of visitors and other activities need to be carefully managed’. I’m not crazy. The National Park is aware of this. Do you still believe that the impact of tourism [centred around climbing Uluru] is achieving a positive environmental effect on the Northern Territory? It’s sad to think that this country, which has so heavily advocated for progressive environmental policies, has forsaken our greatest site for $25 per person. It breaks my heart. As an Australian myself, I don’t want to see my nations’ ecosystems die, and neither should you.
A common argument I hear which supports the climbing of Uluru is ‘If you took away climbing it, it will take away money from tourism and the surrounding communities’. Now let explain to you why this is one of the weakest arguments around. It costs an adult $25 to enter the national park- children free. That is not a lot of money. There is no cost to climb the rock. Whether you climb or not, this is an expense you need to pay. The ban of climbing may decrease the attendance of the park in the short term, however any change in an organisation, typically causes this response. For example, SeaWorld stopped its orca shows and as a result in the short-term they lost sales. There are two things about this 1) it was the moral thing to do, regardless of the slight financial decrease and 2) sales bounced back after a period. This is similar to the case of Uluru as we can expect to see a similar response. Attendance at the park will decrease for a period and then it will rise again. There is more to do at Uluru than take a hike up a rock. You could learn something new, talk to the locals, go on a tour, learn about the local culture. No money will be taken from the local community. There will not be lost wages and if anything, there will be a rise in tourism opportunities. Furthermore, the local communities will feel less hostility directed towards them and so there will be a rise in communication between locals and tourists. Trust me, financially Uluru will be doing better than ever.
Now that I have addressed the safety, environmental and economic effect of climbing Uluru, I would like to talk about the elephant in the room, culture. I have used the word ‘sacred’ many times throughout this and that is not an understatement. The Anangu people [the surrounding community of Uluru] believe that Uluru is the source of creation of the world and believe that as direct descendances, hold the responsibility, from generation to generation, to look after the land. The Anangu people have openly condemned climbing Uluru, stating that it is disrespectful. I highly recommend conducting your own research and read the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park management plan, otherwise you would be reading for days. The closest thing I could liken this to would be desecrating a religious site, not just any religious site but the highest level of such. Are you religious? If so, how would you feel if someone walked into your place of worship, dumped trash, urinated and defecated where-ever and whenever they liked? They gave you $25 though, so it’s fine right? Currently, I am not religious, however I used to be Catholic. I know for a fact that my grandmother would be rolling around in her grave if a group of people strutted into the Vatican City and took a crap at the Pope’s feet. The level of audacity and disrespect that is needed to do this is immeasurable- however people do it at Uluru. Many of the people that climb Uluru are simply ignorant of the wishes of the Anangu people. It is time that we took responsibility for our actions and what they represent.
I am firm in my belief that we should not climb Uluru. Until the Anangu people state otherwise, we should respect their wishes of not climbing. In the future I hope that this discussion will not need to happen again- we should respect and accept the wishes of Aboriginal people from the start, rather than disregarding them for decades. I want the children of the future to look back at this and think ‘banning the climbing of Uluru was a step in the right direction to rectify the past treatment of Aboriginal people’. I am proud of Australia for standing up against this and finally making a change.