Tourists rush to climb Australia’s Uluru on final day before ban

Tourists rushed to climb Australia’s indigenous sacred rock Uluru on Friday – the last day before a ban on ascending the monolith came into force.

Australian Aboriginals, to whom Uluru is a place of great spiritual and cultural importance, have led the push for the ban, arguing visitors climbing the rock were defiling a sacred site.

Traditional landowners the Anangu, who were given back control of Uluru 34 years ago, erected a sign at the base of the rock many years ago in which they plead: “This is our home. Please don’t climb.”

That did not stop swarms of eager tourists heading to scale the famous landmark formerly known as Ayers Rock ahead of Friday’s midnight deadline for the activity becoming illegal.

Tourists climb Uluru at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Tourists climb Uluru at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

Rangers in charge of Uluru banned people from attempting to climb early on Friday morning due to high winds and the risk of falls.

Climbing resumed, however, later in the day as conditions improved and large groups headed onto the dramatic sandstone outcrop.

Professor Marcia Langton, chair of the Australian Indigenous Studies at Melbourne University’s faculty of medicine, was scathing in her criticism of those who took their last opportunity to legally mount the rock.

A curse will fall on all of them. They will remember how they defiled this sacred place until they die & history will record their contempt for Aboriginal culture https://t.co/0FbT1qINEl

— 💧Marcia Langton 🐯 (@marcialangton) October 24, 2019

She tweeted a timelapse of the crowds waiting to climb and said: “A curse will fall on all of them. They will remember how they defiled this sacred place until they die & history will record their contempt for Aboriginal culture.”

Senator Pauline Hanson, the leader of right wing Australian political party One Nation, had urged people to climb the rock before the ban. Ms Hanson herself became stuck while attempting to do so in August.

The BBC has reported only 16% of visitors to Uluru actually climbed it in 2017, when the ban was announced, but that number has surged as the deadline drew nearer.

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