• Lungkata (Blue Tongue) area of Uluru, which teaches the ancient Tjukurpa or creation story explaining why not to climb. (NITV News/Claudianna Blanco)Source: NITV News/Claudianna Blanco
Traditional Owners are meeting to decide if they will ban all visitors to Uluru from climbing the sacred site.
By
Robert Burton-Bradley

1 Nov 2017 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 1 Nov 2017 - 2:46 PM

Visitors to Uluru may be banned from climbing the landmark significant site by Anangu Traditional Owners and Parks Australia at a meeting in Uluru today.

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta board of management  will discuss permanently closing the climbing path on Uluru on Wednesday, with figures showing only 16 per cent of visitors made the climb during its open times between 2011 and 2015.

The closure is possible under the terms of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2010-2020, which states that if the proportion of climbers falls below 20 per cent, or if the board believes people will continue to visit the site without being able to climb.

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"The Board, in consultation with the tourism industry, is satisfied that adequate new visitor experiences have been successfully established, or the proportion of visitors climbing falls below 20 per cent, or the cultural and natural experiences on offer are the critical factors when visitors make their decision to visit the park," states the plan.

The park management plan outlines the Traditional Owners' views on climbing the site.

"Now a lot of visitors are only looking at sunset and climbing Uluru. That rock is really important and sacred. You shouldn’t climb it! Climbing is not a proper tradition for this place," the plan states.

"The real thing is listening to everything. And maybe that makes you a bit sad. But anyway that’s what we have to say. We are obliged by Tjukurpa to say. And all the tourists will brighten up and say, ‘Oh I see. This is the right way. This is the thing that’s right. This is the proper way: no climbing."

The climb is considered dangerous. Over 30 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the climb,  and frequent rescues are required to aid trapped and injured climbers.

The plan says that the park will work towards the eventual close of the climb in consultation with the tourism industry.

"For visitor safety, cultural, and environmental reasons the Director and the Board will work towards closure of the climb.

"Parks Australia will work with the tourism industry and Nguraritja to ensure that; visitors continue to be provided with a unique and rewarding experience of the park, the tourism industry has sufficient lead time to amend and advertise new itineraries, impacts on the tourism industry are minimised."

Since 2008, the climb closes whenever weather conditions make the trek dangerous, such as when the temperature rises over 37 degrees Celsius, when there's rainfall or high wind speeds. The climb also is occasionally closed for cultural reasons. 

Uluru was handed back to Traditional Owners in 1985 by the then Hawke Government, but as part of the hand back agreement there was a requirement that the land be leased out to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Services for 99 years. 

A decision on the future of the climb is expected to be made this afternoon NT time.

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