Destinations

Last climbers almost denied, prime minister scorned: Uluru climb’s final hours

Climbing Uluru has finally been outlawed, after months of tourists flocking to the rock ahead of its closure.

The final climbers were almost denied entry after rangers were forced to close the chain rail due to strong winds on the western face of the rock.

However, the wind died down and tourists ran towards the sacred site, each ignoring the sign that details why climbing disrespects the traditional owners.

“Uluru is sacred to our culture. It is a place of great knowledge. Under our traditional law climbing is not permitted,” the sign reads, citing the Anangu traditional owners.

“This is our home. As custodians, we are responsible for your safety and behaviour. Too many people do not listen to our message. Too many people have died or been hurt causing great sadness.

“We worry about you and your family. Please don’t climb.”

Following the closure, there was a party open to all held as the sun went down over Uluru on Sunday, according to SBS.

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.

Dodson called out prime minister Scott Morrison for his notable absence.

“Well I would’ve thought that the Prime Minister should’ve been attending this occasion. I saw him at the basketball somewhere in Australia,” Dodson told NITV.

“If he had a real empathy with the religious and cultural foundations of the First Nations of this country he should’ve been here.

“The Prime Minister should’ve been at this event and showing respect for First Nations across Australia, but particularly with the Anangu, who have been generous in how they’ve shared this place, and to highlight the importance of Aboriginal culture and spirituality across Australia.”

Finally unchained

The chain, which was the only safety precaution in place for climbers, is expected to be dismantled today along with a series of white markings that point to a cairn at Uluru’s summit.

The man who laid the chain 56 years ago, Peter Severin told the ABC he thinks it will be back in a few years.

He said the chain was not supposed to be a safety measure but was built to reassure climbers and that removing it is a “stupid idea”.

“I think it’s a stupid idea personally, and I wouldn’t mind thinking if I live long enough in a couple of years’ time, they’ll reopen it with a little kiosk at the bottom, where they make people pay to climb the rock, and they’ll put another one up. That’s my opinion,” he said.

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