• Wollumbin – also known as Mt Warning – in northern NSW. It’s also a place of “great spiritual significance to the Bundjalung People”. (SBS)Source: SBS
The site has been closed to climbers since March last year due to COVID-19 restrictions and could now permanently close.
Saman Shad

18 Feb 2021 - 12:56 AM  UPDATED 18 Feb 2021 - 10:50 AM

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service is set to permanently ban climbers from ascending Wollumbin in Northern NSW. 

Government documents reveal the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are closely examining the possibility of permanently closing the site to climbers “due to safety risks and visitor impacts on Aboriginal cultural values”.

Wollumbin has been closed to climbers since March last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. In the documents, the NPWS identifies the interim closure to climbers as an opportunity to consult with the local Aboriginal community and tourism businesses.

Wollumbin is a sacred place for the Bundjalung people, who are custodians of the site. For many years, a sign at the base of the site has asked people to rethink climbing the mountain out of respect for its Traditional Owners.

Despite this, around 100,000 people a year take the 8.8 kilometre trek to the summit of Wollumbin.

“Wollumbin is a place of great spiritual significance to the Bundjalung People. Visitors are asked to respect their wishes and choose not to climb the summit track,” Bundjalung Elders previously said in a statement.

“Under Bundjalung law, only certain people can climb the summit. Out of respect for their law and culture, consider not climbing the summit.”

The documents – obtained by a climbing group under the Freedom of Information Act – went on to state:

“Poor visitor behaviour including desecration, littering, and toileting, particularly around the Summit, is causing unacceptable physical and cultural impacts and damage.”

“The draft Aboriginal Place management plan maintains that access to the Wollumbin Summit must be restricted and there are no conditions under which public access could be consistent with cultural values."

The potential plan to restrict public access on Wollumbin comes after the ban on climbing Uluru which came into effect in late 2019. 

Uluru’s Traditional Owners, the Anangu people, had campaigned for decades to stop climbers before a permanent ban was instated.

Bundjalung Elder Robert Corowa had previously said he was "very motivated by what I’ve seen at Uluru.” 

“We’ve been trying to pull the chains down and stop people climbing it for years… It’s probably one of the main sites in the Bundjalung nation.”

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