Elders call for Uluru-style climb ban on Sunshine Coast mountains

An aerial view of the Glasshouse mountains in Queensland, Australia in the early morning.

Indigenous elders from the Sunshine Coast are calling for an Uluru-style climbing ban on the Glasshouse Mountains.

The region’s Jinibara people have been fighting for two decades to put an end to the climbing of Mount Beerwah, the highest of the Glasshouse Mountains, which is considered a sacred site and “mother” to the rest of the range, according to 7News.

“It’s the mother mountain. It is a sacred site. It’s where the birthing places were, that’s the main thing, not for people to climb and take videos up,” Senior elder of the Jinibara people Ken Murphy told the The Courier-Mail.

“You see the climbers with their lightweight gear drilling into her and scarring the mountain.

“People climb up her for photos and ‘yahoo and carry on’. A lot aren’t culturally aware and we can’t stop them.”

The Kabi Kabi people have also called for Mount Coolum, which is located about an hour north of Mount Beerwah, to be closed to climbers.

Kabi Kabi elder Les Muckan, whose family are the traditional owners of Mount Coolum, told the The Courier-Mail he is against people climbing the mountain not only because it is sacred but also due to safety concerns. Seven people have been rescued from the mountain’s walking track this year alone.

“Every rescue costs taxpayer money and the rescued people are the lucky ones – what happens if someone climbs up and are not so lucky?” he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the The Courier-Mail the government has no plans to close the climbs.

“The Department of Environment and Science as land managers consult with traditional owners on a regular basis on the best way to protect culturally significant sites such as the Glasshouse Mountains,” she said.

“While traditional owners have raised concerns and suggested the possibility of closing the mountains to climbers, the department has no plans to do so.”

Murphy said traditional owners requests are falling on deaf ears and fears he is fighting a losing battle.

Climbing Uluru was officially banned on Saturday, after months of tourists flocking to the sacred site ahead of its closure.

Traditional owners of the site, the Anangu people celebrated alongside guests such as Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, Goanna frontman Shane Howard, Environmental Minister Sussan Ley and four federal labor MPs including indigenous politicians Linda Burney, Pat Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy.

The Anangu people have been vocal about their wishes for people not to climb Uluru since the 1980s not just because of its spiritual significance but also the physical dangers of the climb.

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