Ayers Rock climb to remain open - (for the next few years at least)

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 12:22
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Was reading with interest in the Melbourne Age today that our Environment Minister, Peter Garratt has determined that Uluru is to remain open for tourist purposes. The traditional owners had asked that it be recognised as their sacred site and the climb aspect of it closed. Apparently there are tourists who have defecated on the rock littering the top with toilet paper etc. I'm glad that this decision was made as it remains a major tourist drawcard for the centre. How they deal with those inconsiderate and disrespectful souls who see fit to bleep everywhere remains to be seen I suppose.

From my three most recent ascents, the ironic thing is the majority of tourists (particularly the bus loads of Asian tourists), only go to the top of the chains and then return. Of the many hundreds who were scrambling up with us, there was less than half a dozen continue on to the top and they were nearly all skips or Europeans.

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Reply By: Member - Royce- Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 13:19

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 13:19
I think a lot of people believe that the top of the chain IS the top. I remember the first climb I did, we left some friends with younger children at the top of the chain.

We expected a short walk to the top.... not the next hour or so!

I don't think I'll bother to climb again, but have great doubts about whether the 'local' indegenous people had the no climb beliefs a couple of decades ago. Maybe some encouragement has lead them to this rethink.

Then again, maybe they didn't have the confidence to express themselves years ago?
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 13:29

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 13:29
I have heard that Mount Conner was more sacred to the indigenous populace.
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Reply By: Member - Jack - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 15:42

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 15:42
This post has been read by the moderation team and has been moderated due to a breach of The Off Topic Rule .

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Reply By: jabiru340 - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 16:13

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 16:13
The alleged defecation by the alleged tourists would have to do that after dark wouldn't they. With the number of people climbing at any given time and the openness of the place where would one hide to do that act?

Anyway great to see Minister Garrett use some common sense like he did for the Traveston Dam.
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 16:37

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 16:37
No, the rock climb is closed and cleared before nightfall. The defecation is done during broad daylight. There are hollows and crevices which provide some degree of privacy (or secrecy if you prefer!)

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Follow Up By: Member - ross m (WA) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 17:36

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 17:36
Its long climb and I guess some people get to the top and just have to go.

I think we have all been in that position at one or another.
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Follow Up By: Matt Watson - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:11

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:11
While its pretty gross, when you have to go, you have to go.. Would be nice for people to put a bit of forethought into it though and drop one off at the bottom first. I'd question how much of this actually goes on though.

I'd hate to see it closed, I wonder how many tourist would still trek out there if climbing was stopped.

Matt.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 12:40

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 12:40
Gday
Why close it because some one had a dump?
People on councils clean up others crap all the time...they don't close the street, and you cant tell me the place lacks labour.
With the millions of dollars of profit the place generates a year, surely they could afford to chopper up a couple of porta-loos each day if its becoming such an issue?

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 14:22

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 14:22
There comes a time when we need to take responsibilty for our own actions & not assume that "people on councils will clean up after us".



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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 18:06

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 18:06
I assume you're putting your hand up to go on dump duty hey Shaker? LOL
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 18:50

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 18:50
I guess i still follow my Mammas insistance that I "go" before we went
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 18:08

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 18:08
I read the news report on line and thought it was reported as though people were choosing to climb the rock just to go to the toilet. Not the easiest choice if you needed to go! Perhaps the Park management should put a toilet and signage near the gate to the climb saying the climb may take you xx hours return; please visit the toilet before you start. I have seen similar at the start of long walks.

My thoughts on the mooted future closure were that some determined people would still make the climb, without the safety of the chain, and possibly under cover of darkness or in adverse weather conditions, greatly increasing the chances of bad of fatal falls.

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Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 18:27

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 18:27
There are a number of conflicting interests in this matter.

The area of Uluru containing the climb is not sacred to the aborigines but they do conduct ceremonies there from time-to-time and the climb is closed to tourists at that time. The local aborigines grieve greatly when a tourist dies or is injured on the rock.

Significant problem occurs to the environment as a result of defecation and littering on the rock.

Considerable cost is expended to manage the climb and to rescue tourists in difficulties.

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management are torn between the management and environmental difficulties, their own ethics, and the possibility of losing tourist dollars if the climb is closed. For the moment at least, the fiscal consideration has won. But the word I have from some in the know is that the climb will be closed within 3 years.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:08

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:08
Hi All
Ask some of the locals in Alice Springs of what happens in the streets, shops and banks. My sister lives in Alice Springs and these places do not shut shop permanently because the local indigenous people defecate in these places when there are toilets outside.

It all may be a big smoke screen. The tourist dollar may make then change their mind in the end, as most of the tourist that travel there want to include a climb in their visit.

I am not saying that this has never happens on the Rock, but considering the thousands of people that climb it each year, the times that this might happen would surely be very minimal.

Another simple matter could also to give people that climb the rock, a large plastic bag and paper, and use it the same way when walking your dog.

My 2 cents worth.

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Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:54

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 19:54
I really don't care if tourists climb or not and I don't care if the climb is kept open or closed.

But I really find it hard to believe than any significant number of tourists would elect to not visit Uluru simply because they were not able to climb it. There is so much more to experience and enjoy simply by walking around the circumference of the formation and participating in ranger-guided tours.

I'm of the opinion that many people when asked if they would not visit if the walk was closed would say that they would not, yet in reality they still would. They say "no" in order to manipulate the poll but not with conviction. This is a well established behaviour in relation to polls and petitions.

The climb is often closed for one reason or another but I'm sure people don't pack-up and leave even if disappointed.

A very simple way for the board of management to test the situation is to close the climb for a period and observe the effect on tourist income. If it drops unacceptably, reopen it.

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Follow Up By: Russ n Sue - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 20:12

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 20:12
G'day Allan,

Having lived in caravan parks at Alice Springs on and off for almost 12 months in the past three years, I have talked to many of the tourists who have Uluru on their agenda. Trust me, they DO ring ahead to find out what the prospects of climbing the "Rock" are.

If the response is that the climb is likely to be closed for one reason or another, most of these tourists make alternate plans and simply don't go. Your assertion that it wouldn't make a lot of difference to the average tourist isn't supported from what I have experienced.

Don't forget, a great many of the tourists in Central Australia stay at caravan parks, so I think the sample that I have talked to would be fairly indicative of what the opinions are of the "climb" being closed.

Me? Couldn't care less. Been past the rock twice in the last 12 months and didn't even bother to stop to take a photo. Once you've been around Central Australia for a while you realise that there's a lot of better things to see and do.

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Russ.

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 20:19

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 20:19
Hmm, maybe so Russ.

Like I proposed, close it and find out.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:31

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:31
Hi Allan
Did you see the Mike Munro Sunday Night Shown a few months ago...

$100 Million Dollars in tourist funds given to the Traditional owners over the last 25 years just from entry fees for the National Park. That money does not include accommodation and other goods that tourists spend while there. If that does not make any difference, I would bet to differ.

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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:38

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:38
Wonder what they have done with the $100 mil??

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 22:26

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 22:26
Hi John
That was the reason for his report. They asked the same question, as the Mutijula Community was still living in 3rd world standards. Perhaps we should be asking our politicians to 'Please Explain' just where has this money been squandered away.

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 23:15

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 23:15
No Stephen, I missed the show but heard about its content.

But I don't follow your "If that does not make any difference, I would bet to differ." As Pauline would say..."Please explain?"

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 09:47

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 09:47
Hi Allan
The Rock is a classic Australian Icon and should be for ALL AUSTRALIANS, black, brindle or white. I am not saying that the Rock is not Sacred, but speak to any true Old timers from the Centre and it was never like that. 25 years ago when it was signed back to them, part of the agreement was that it was still to be open to all that wanted to see it, including to be able to climb the Rock. So why now after all these years do things start to change. I know, next thing they will want to get rid of all the wildlife up there for doing their business on the Rock as well.

Who pays for the upkeep of the roads, the running of the National Parks etc, etc, Yes you and I, Australian Tax Payers. How much tax money of the $100 Million Dollars in royalties have the Community put back into the system?????


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Reply By: Member - Nathan & Lyndsey (WA) - Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:32

Saturday, Jan 09, 2010 at 21:32
Hi all.

I'm not going to climb it when we pass through in September this year. But i still wan't to see it. Not being able to climb it should not stop tourists still passing through.
Just my opinion.

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Reply By: Naviguesser - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 09:37

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 09:37
Going there (amongst other visits) in the middle of the year.
My wife would not want to got there if she can't climb it. Would bypass and go spend our money elsewhere.

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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 12:00

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 12:00
I cant understand why so many visit Uluru apparently only to climb it. I have
watched a busload of asian folk fight each other to gain an edge on the chain..
not very dignified. As a result those in charge closed it immediately, too windy,
they said. That brought about a howling & moaning you would not believe . If
that sort of thing happens regularly it is hardly strange that authorities will move
to close it permanently. Be advised, if you have this on your "must do" list, do it
soon, as it will surely close in the not too distant future. The circumference walk
is a fabulous experience, exceeded only by the Valley of the Winds walk nearby.
I doubt the indiginous angle will be the true deciding issue on closure, more
likely the aggressive attitude of visitors, & the disgusting toilet habits , combined
with the recurring death of climbers. Tourism wont die because of closure,
maybe a lull for awhile. I dont believe the climb is the real reason most visit the
area. ...........oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 13:54

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 13:54
Baz
I would submit that the climbing is a major part of the overall reason that people do visit the rock.

Its a very large part of the overall experience and when you have accomplished the climb and experienced the view that is to had it easy to see why.



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Follow Up By: jabiru340 - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 14:17

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 14:17
Interesting isn't it talk of closure due to disgusting toilet habits but no such talk when there has been recurring deaths of climbers?

Anyway, I think Mt Augustus in WA, which is 2 times bigger than Ayers Rock, is more impressive.

It's a misconception that Ayers Rock is the largest rock in Australia.

The fact is that Mt Augustus is and it is also the largest monocline (rock) in the world. It's 717m high and 150 million years old.

The colour changes at sunset are more impressive as well.

I think if the WA govt put a bitumen road in to it, Ayers Rock would loose it's focus.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 14:24

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 14:24
Agreed!!
The issue is that very few know anything about Mt Augustus.

Ayers Rock has developed iconic Australian status like the Harbour Bridge and thats why it remains a "must do" on most peoples bucket list.

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Follow Up By: equinox - Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 21:21

Sunday, Jan 10, 2010 at 21:21
As much as I like Mt. Augustus I don't think it can compare to any of the 3 Tors of central Australia.

Even Francis Gregory who named it after his brother Augustus only describes it, of a hill, "one of considerable elevation" - 31 May 1858.

William Gosse however says of Ayres Rock, "The hill, as I approached, presented a most peculiar appearance, the upper portion being covered with holes and caves". - 19 July 1873.
....and again, "This rock appears more wonderful every time I look at it, and I may say it is a sight worth riding over eighty four miles of spinifex sandhills to see" - 28 July 1873.

I'm with Gosse, but my opinion only :)

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Follow Up By: jabiru340 - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 08:47

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 08:47
Alan,

But did Gosse ever see Mt Augustus :-)

Maybe if he did he could have described it in a similar way.

As John correctly says very few people know anything about it.

I certainly found Ayers Rock to be quite spectacular but when I approached Mt Augustus I had the same feeling. My first thoughts were why is this rock not being promoted like Ayers Rock.

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Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 21:05

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 21:05
"combined with the recurring death of climbers"
Not to belittle anyone's tragedy, but when did the last person die up there? If I recall rightly, the number hasn't changed since I was there in 2004 (some five years ago), and probably not for some years prior to that, despite the thousands of people that climb it every year. There would be more people dying on the road to the Rock than dying on the Rock itself.

"My first thoughts were why is this rock not being promoted like Ayers Rock."
It's not as central :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 22:53

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 22:53
Timbo, I believe the last death on Uluru was in March 2001 when an Austrian tourist died of heart attack. Possibly the publicity and warnings being made in more recent times have dissuaded some people with health conditions from climbing and so avoided deaths.

I do understand from my ranger friend that the incidence of injuries due to slips and falls has not lessened much though. She said that inappropriate footwear was possibly a significant factor together with personal instability.

Perhaps many of the perceived problems could be avoided if climbers were required to ascend only in organised groups in the company of a ranger guide. Not so Gung Ho perhaps but maybe an acceptable compromise. I did put this to my ranger friend but I seem to remember that she said it had been considered but rejected for some reason that I cannot now recall.

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Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 12:08

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 12:08
"I do understand from my ranger friend that the incidence of injuries due to slips and falls has not lessened much though. She said that inappropriate footwear was possibly a significant factor together with personal instability."

That's not surprising - it's a pretty steep climb - and then you've got the busloads of tourists who are dressed for the beach and they attempt the climb in thongs (flip-flops) - just looking for trouble IMHO. It was hard on my toes coming down in hiking boots, I don't think I'd like to be staring down that slope being restrained only by a couple of rubber strips between a few of my toes!Image Could Not Be Found
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:02

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:02
Ayres rock



from the top


Mt Augustus


from the top



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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:03

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:03
oh for an edit function
- from the top of ayres rock
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:09

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 at 19:09
What the heck??

try again

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Reply By: tonysmc - Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 11:32

Monday, Jan 11, 2010 at 11:32
My biggest concern with closing the walk up the rock, is that Uluru itself is NOT a sacred site. Yes their are sacred sites around the rock which must be protected and respected, however the actual rock has never been sacred. Now will this mean that in the future that we may be told we cannot walk on a beach because a certain party doesn't like it?
Surely in this day and age we can work around the rubbish/toilet problem.
How many people crap on top of the harbour bridge?
As was suggested years ago, declare ALL sites that are regarded a sacred and every measure will be taken to protect those sites. Every where else will be available for all to enjoy.

Cheers Tony.
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