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article imageUluru (Ayers Rock) - To Climb Or Not To Climb?

By Angelique van Engelen     Nov 26, 2007 in Travel
Climbing expeditions to the Aboriginal mountain Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, are increasingly being omitted from tourist schedules, reports Geographical Research. It's a sign that the wishes of the rock's owners, the Anangu, are being honored.
The Anangu consider the rock holy and discourage people from climbing it. A massive tourist attraction, the mountain has lured millions since the 1940s. Most of the visitors display more understanding to the sacred status of the mountain than the owners likely expect, according to a paper entitled Constructing the Climb: Visitor Decision-Making at Uluru by Sarah James.
She suggests that a more proactive pre-trip presentation of Anangu sentiments does improve visitors’ understanding. Many visitors will forego climbing Uluru if given advanced and accurate information about its Aboriginal owner’s perspective, according to the study.
Both non-Aboriginal visitors and tour operators showed openness to the owners’ view of Uluru, and their wish that the sacred rock not be climbed.
People make a more informed decision with regard to the climb if they’re approached beforehand, James says, adding that uninformed visitors generally tend to be under the impression that the mountain climb is desirable.
However, the Anangu consider the rock holy and find that climbing it is inappropriate. The rock represents the historic split between settler and Aboriginal concepts of place and of appropriate actions within place.
Tourists who’ve set their hearts on climbing the mountain, are unlikely to go back on their tracks once they’re fully geared up for the trek and are approaching the mountain. The information process needs to start much earlier on if the campaign to discourage climbing is going to be successful, says James. “It is too late to affect their decision by the time they see the ‘Please Do Not Climb’ sign at the base of Uluru.”
The site was handed back to the Anangu in 1985. It is part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which receives 400,000 annual visitors. Almost half of those climb Uluru. The first tourists visited Uluru in 1936. In 1948, the first vehicular track to Uluru was constructed, responding to increased tourism interest in the region.
James reports that tour operators say that the climb is not really essential for their businesses and that an official prohibition would not cause any significant long-term damage to business.
James says visitors indicated they would respect the wishes of the Anangu not to climb – if communicated properly.
More about Uluru, Ayers rock, Climbing
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