Climbing to be banned on sacred Australian rock

Plans to permanently close the climb have been in place since 2010, when the management board announced the Uluru climb would be closed once the proportion of visitors doing so fell below 20 percent.

The park's Board of Management voted unanimously to approve the change, which has been the subject of lengthy discussion.

Located in Australia's desert centre, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is one of the country's most popular, yet sacred tourist destinations. According to the board, only 16 per cent of visitors to the national park climbed Uluru from 2011 to 2015.

And in the USA, visitors are asked to stay off the Devils Tower National Monument in June each year "out of respect for traditional cultural activities of American Indians".

Uluru's land title was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985, but was immediately leased to the Australian federal government to be jointly managed as a national park for 99 years.

'Over the years Anangu have felt a sense of intimidation as if someone is holding a gun to our heads to keep it open, ' he said.

"This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu together to feel proud about; to realize, of course, it's the right thing to close the "playground".

There are already signs at the foot of the rock asking people not to climb on it to respect the traditional law of the Anangu Aboriginal people, but these are often ignored.

While there have been concerns over the ban's impact on tourism, the number of visitors who climb Uluru have steadily dropped, largely thanks to increased awareness and education.

"Perhaps most disturbingly, many people die climbing Uluru".

  • Joey Payne