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Published on : Monday, November 18, 2013
ULURU, (Australia) — For most tourists, the awesome experience of seeing Uluru for the first time in the middle of the Australian desert heartland brings a feeling that is difficult to suppress — an urge to clamber up the daunting formation once known as Ayers Rock.
While a modest link-chain rail guides climbers up the formation’s steepest slopes, the traditional Aboriginal owners of Uluru, whose connections to the sacred site date back tens of thousands of years, don’t want climbers — especially given that more than 35 people have died attempting the physically demanding feat.
“Uluru is sacred in our culture. It is a place of great knowledge,” the traditional Anangu owners say in a sign at the base of the rock which is translated into six more languages.
“Under our traditional law climbing is not permitted. As custodians, we are responsible for your well-being and behaviour. Too many people have died or been hurt causing great sadness to all.”
For visitors’ safety, cultural and environmental reasons the park is working towards closing the climb. It is currently left up to visitors to decide whether they tackle the sandstone monolith which rises 348 metres (1,148 feet).
American tourist Jeff Bordell says his instinct was to climb, but after speaking with an
indigenous man he came to understand that it was frowned upon.
“It’s attractive to my spirit, it calls my spirit to go on the rock,” he said as he walked the 10.6 kilometre (6.6 mile) trail around the base of the 500 million-year-old formation.
“This place is very spiritual and it’s attractive and it calls to me. And probably lots of other
About 250,000 people visit Uluru each year and, while there are no official figures on how many climb, visitor surveys from a small number of people suggest somewhere around 20 per cent take on the challenge of the ascent.
Recently, the number of climbers has declined significantly with Australian National University research finding the number of visitors climbing Uluru had dropped from about 52 per cent in 1995 to 38 per cent in 2006.