Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 9Anger mounting over closing of Rock climb

Anger mounting over closing of Rock climb

p2207-Rock-climb-pettycoatBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The disapproval of the ban to climb The Rock from 26 October next year is ramping up with comments that an unrepresentative minority is blocking access to an icon that all Australians consider their own.
The publication of a book titled A Guide to Climbing Ayers Rock by Marc Hendrickx last week has prompted adventurer Dick Smith to call it “an important book on how hard-won freedoms of adventure are being whittled away. A must read for everyone”.
And former NT Chief Minister Adam Giles is quoted: “It is an eye opener to understanding continuing cultural importance of one the Anangu’s greatest treasures and the determination of leftist protectionists who refuse to allow traditional owners to share their culture, Dreamtime and stories with Australians and all others”.
The comments are echoed in the national publication Quadrant which quotes the author: “Australians are pretty much asleep at the wheel on this. When they finally wake up it will be an unpleasant surprise to find how much and how many of life’s small pleasures they have been locked out of.
“By then, as we will likely see with the right to climb Ayers Rock, it will be too late to change anything.”
Says the author: “This book was born out of a deep boiling rage that something as wonderful and awe inspiring as the simple act of walking up a hill in the middle of nowhere to look over magnificent views of the desert could be closed down by a bunch of weak kneed passionless politicians and dead hearted bureaucrats and a few self-fish land owners who have forgotten the wise words and actions of their elders – old men who graciously shared their home and their stories with many tourists and helped make the visit to Ayers Rock something magical.
“The reputation the Rock has gained as a place of wonder is partly due to these more enlightened custodians from the recent past who also climbed up their rock.”
You don’t have to dig very deep to find out that almost everything Parks Australia and the Park Board say about the Climb is utter make believe, says Mr Hendrickx.
“It’s like they exist in another universe where history only started in 1991. This was the year Australia was first told that the locals never climb their rock.
“This book will go a long way to set the facts straight and provide a foundation to allow a debate about the Climb to finally take place.
“Here’s hoping that logic and reason win out and the proposed ban is lifted so millions more can join the seven million or so who have already climbed to the summit of this grand sandstone monolith that lies at the heart of our country.”
Mr Hendrickx thanks Bobby Roff, wife of former head Ranger Derek Roff, “for filling in details about times when the park was a more enjoyable place to visit”.
He says Mr Roff successfully managed the Park for 18 years between 1968 and 1985 “during a time of dramatic political and social upheaval”.
25104 Paddy Uluru OKMr Hendrickx referred to Anangu man Tiger Tjalkalyirri “who was one of the first climbing guides and entertained tourists into his old age” and to Lou Borgelt’s 1946 film footage that shows Tiger, Mitenjerry Mick, Lou and his mate Cliff Thompson on the summit, splashing about and dancing in the puddles on the plateau and joking about at the small pile of rocks that used to mark the Rock’s highest point”.
The author also refers to the definitive statement by principal owner Paddy Uluru (at right, Quadrant photo): “If tourists are stupid enough to climb they are welcome to it. He also said ‘the physical act of climbing was of no cultural interest’.”


  1. There have only been two deaths on The Rock this century.
    Two have died this century at Kata Tjuta and no-one is calling for Kata Tjuta to be closed down further than it already is.
    Anangu are simply not responsible for the safety of tourists who visit the Park.

  2. Interesting there was a death at King’s Canyon recently, but no call to close that.
    Marc has some very interesting info on his blog spot, including some dubious figures from deaths at the resort, wished to make it seem they were actually climbing the rock at the time.
    Interesting that the truly sacred areas are actuall visible from the base walk.
    The climb itself is of no real cultural interest to the Anangu, until the renters told them it was disrespectful.

  3. @ Ann Hatzimihail: You have nailed it! “Sad world we live in, so structured and strictured.”
    You describe perfectly the new Nanny State everywhere rising now in Australian society.
    And the irony is that those who are putting this Nanny State in place are railing against what they say are the old structures and strictures.

  4. Watchin: You are correct, but the pyramids are man made structures, and burial monuments.
    They are not a naturally occurring monolith.
    The Nepalese hold Everest in sacred regard, people climb that, more people die there than Ayers Rock.

  5. Don’t forget the role of the white lawyers and anthropologists at the Central Land Council in promoting the closure. They have their own fiefdom to protect.
    You only have to dig a little way into the ethnographic evidence collected by people like Mountford and others in the early 20th century to find proof (and pictures) of Aboriginal men climbing Uluru.
    There is even a ROCKHOLE up on top named Uluru. That’s where the rock, the surrounding country and Paddy Uluru’s family derive their name from.
    It’s not a secret. It’s in older Park Plans of Management and various other documents. There is also a sacred men’s site on top of the rock as well, which was visited by … Aboriginal men! Again, this is in Mountford and other sources.
    People should be able to make up their own mind about climbing, it should be made clear that Ngura-itjta are NOT all in favour of the closure, and the sly hand of a certain ultra-conservative, self-interested organisation posing to represent Aboriginal people (CLC) should be also declared in this matter.

  6. So its only a big rock. If you are not allowed to climb it, who cares?
    In 20 years our kids won’t believe it was ever approved. Our current generation have grown up with the Rock climb being the number one thing to do at Uluru.
    Once closed it will not make much difference. Any tourist who misses a visit because they can’t climb, is the type of tourist that no one could attract anyway.

  7. Sasha, you are spot on. So much there to celebrate and share with other visitors.
    One wonders how those legends and stories will be passed on to the next generation if the current custodians refuse to climb like their grandfathers did before them.

  8. The whole handback of The Rock was a political farce created by (sadly) a Hawke Government which had promised reconciliation and had delivered very little in its first term.
    There was no strong evidence of any long term connection by any of the claimants who made up the so called traditional owners, in fact Yami Lester, the first Chairman of the board, only visited The Rock as a tourist on his late 20s – and what did he do when he was there? He climbed it.
    He thought it was a great achievement for a blind man, which it was.

  9. I would be very wary of a book and climb advocate that can’t get the name right. It’s been Uluru for millennia. Anyway, I thought an Australian value is basic respect, lacking the respect is very un-Australian.

  10. I am 64, 100% fit, and undertook a full medical medical prior to climbing Uluru in March 2019.
    The awe inspiring part of Uluru is not the climb to Chicken Rock, End of Chain area.
    But what you experience as you trek across the top to the cairn, the dips, holes, crevices and the shrubs near the cairn.
    The view and feeling as you look across to the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) over the outback red sands and Indigenous plants is unsurpassable, and becomes a part of you and your appreciation of the Australian landscape. You cannot fully appreciate the beauty and significance of Uluru from the base.
    In my opinion the closure is detrimental to the area and tourism in the Northern Territory, and is creating unrest and division in our once good country.
    May I suggest that instead of closing The Rock you enhance the experience by having guided informational tours by Anangu guides explaining the significance of the Rock in their culture, its position in the dreamtime, the plants and wildlife around Uluru.
    Look to create and foster harmony with all races and cultures stop promoting hatred. Our differences in colour are only due to exposure to sun. Beneath our skin we are the same.
    A chair lift to the top of chicken rock should be considered but keep the trek across the top open for it is the most spectacular experience you can have.
    In relation to the quote: “We need to treat Uluru in the same respect that we treat other spiritual places and sacred sites in this country” I say bullshit.
    We should respect all parts of this country, its people and all our international visitors and cultures we grow by acceptance not division.
    The most disrespectful people that I encountered on our trip through SA and NT were the Aboriginals that I encountered in Port Augusta, Coober Pedy and Alice Springs.
    Theft, public nuisance, loitering and alcoholism is unfortunately very prevalent.
    These individuals are a disgrace to their culture, our Australia, and would be looked upon by the ancestors from the Dreamtime to at least to 1770 as shameful and disgusting.
    It is time the elders, supported by our government and the people of Australia, brought them into line.
    Promote a good work ethic, learn the ways of their ancestors, the animals and plants. Use them in the tourism industry … to promote oneness and harmony by spreading knowledge awareness and goodwill.
    Prior to this trip I had a great deal of respect for the Aboriginals and their culture through meeting, talking and working with Aboriginals in Vic, NSW and Qld.
    Wake up Australia, it’s about time all citizens and residents got off their arses, respected our country, all races and cultures.
    Embrace the opportunities available to obtain and create employment, health, education and respect for all.
    Every single individual should be treated equally in all respects.


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