When you think of Australia, you think of sandy beaches, cuddly koalas and of course, Uluru - a bucket list destination that tourists have been climbing since forever. But that is about to change...
If you’ve been to Australia’s northern territory, you’ve probably been to, or at least heard of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. This Australian landmark is so big it can be seen from space, and is world heritage listed – which is no surprise given its scale and unparalleled beauty. The rock sits just west of the country’s ‘Red Centre’ and is part of a stunning deep red landscape.
It’s no surprise that Uluru is a visitors hotspot. Until now, visitors have enjoyed climbing and scaling this majestic monolith – and the practice itself has attracted climbers from all over the globe who deem themselves up for the challenge. However, following a recent decision by the local authorities of the area, a ban has now been put in place to end people climbing the rock – making it illegal for visitors to climb Uluru from October 2019.
Uluru has been a sacred site for aboriginal communities for thousands of years. At its base, a sign from the local Anangu elders pleads for visitors to refrain from climbing it, but rather explore its foundation and gage a deeper understanding of the site and what it means to local communities. Visitors have long since climbed the rock despite local efforts.
Banning visitors from climbing Uluru is a huge step in the right direction - both for indigenous communities, and for tourists. We need to reflect on our impact when we travel, and respect local cultures and laws - as we would want them respected in our own countries.
What the ban highlights is the importance of being aware when we travel. We want to positively impact the communities of the places we go to, rather than negatively impact them. Hopefully the ban will encourage a new way of looking at how we travel: as tourists, its important that we understand not everything is there and fully accessible for our enjoyment. Some things we have to enjoy from a distance, so as to remain sensitive to the local culture.
Not being able to climb Uluru does not mean it can’t be enjoyed and marvelled at – as the sign that lies at its base suggests. There’s nothing stopping us from getting a few cheeky selfies (or a full photo shoot) with the picturesque landmark as our backdrop, so long as we’ve taken the time to understand its significance…