'Sucked in': Uluru climb cancelled

 

Tomorrow's Uluru climb ban has sparked frenzied scenes at the landmark as scores of visitors queue for their last chance to scale the rock.

From tomorrow - exactly 34 years since the land was handed back to its traditional owners - climbing the sacred site will finally be outlawed.

But wild weather lashing the Red Centre has reportedly closed the climb early - with rangers forced to shut down the chain trail to the summit.

The climb was scheduled to open at 7:00am local time, but according to the ABC, it was soon closed after rangers deemed conditions too dangerous with winds lashing the western face of the rock.

While the climb is expected to be permanently close at 4:00pm ACT this afternoon, authorities will inspect the conditions at 10am, 12pm and 2pm - meaning visitors could still be able to reach the top before the ban is enforced.

The controversial ban is the result of a unanimous vote by the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in 2017.

Uluru is considered to be a place of spiritual significance by its indigenous custodians, the Anangu people, who have pleaded with tourists not to climb it for many years.

Hordes of climbers pictured heading up Uluru in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park on one of the last days before the climb closes.
Hordes of climbers pictured heading up Uluru in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park on one of the last days before the climb closes.

As the deadline for the ban loomed, there had been a sharp spike in the number of people arriving to hike up the monolith, with a number of photos showing lengthy lines up the trail going viral.

According to the BBC, only 16 per cent of visitors to Uluru actually climbed it in 2017, when the upcoming ban was first announced, but that number has surged as the deadline drew nearer.

Traditional owners have asked tourists not to climb for years. Picture: Instagram
Traditional owners have asked tourists not to climb for years. Picture: Instagram

In fact, the ABC reports there were an extra 10,000 visitors to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park per month in the six months leading up to the climb's closure.

Today is the last day people can climb Uluru. Picture: Instagram
Today is the last day people can climb Uluru. Picture: Instagram

Yesterday, a clip posted on Twitter by ABC journalist Oliver Gordon showed crowds waiting at the base of the site at 7am.

The video revealed the queue snaking from the carpark all the way to the beginning of the climb, with commenters likening the crowd to a "conga line".

It attracted thousands of views and comments, with some describing the final mad rush to conquer Uluru as "disgusting", "selfish" and "disrespectful" to the traditional owners.

"You'd have to be really, really keen to insult and offend Traditional Owners to even consider climbing in such crowded conditions," one Twitter user posted, while another wrote: "Can any one of these climbers give me a good and valid reason why they feel they must do this? Why should you not be utterly ashamed and embarrassed? Anyone?"

The climb was established in 1964 on the steep western face of the rock, and from October 28, the chain handhold that guided tourists up the rock for decades will be dismantled.

From tomorrow onwards, heavy fines of up to $10,000 will be introduced for anyone who ignores the new law.

Do you support the ban on climbing Uluru?

This poll ended on 25 November 2019.

Current Results

Yes

44%

No

50%

Not sure

4%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Over the decades, dozens of people have died while climbing Uluru for a range of reasons, including falls, dehydration and health issues.

There has been a huge spike in the number of visitors to the site. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
There has been a huge spike in the number of visitors to the site. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

In 2018, a Japanese tourist died while trying to climb one of the steepest parts of the rock, and last month, One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson got stuck while climbing Uluru in protest against the ban.

There have been an extra 10,000 visitors to the park each month in the last six months.
There have been an extra 10,000 visitors to the park each month in the last six months.

Earlier this month, a young South Australian girl fell at least 20 metres while descending from the summit after visiting the site with her parents and younger brother.

The 12-year-old lost her footing and fell on the lower section of the climb, near where the chain is located.

A group of Japanese tourists missed out on climbing Uluru yesterday after it was closed due to the temperature reaching 40 degrees. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian
A group of Japanese tourists missed out on climbing Uluru yesterday after it was closed due to the temperature reaching 40 degrees. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian

This month, Central Land Council chief executive Joe Martin-Jard told Sky News tourists had been increasingly using Uluru as a toilet.

He said that was one of the reasons behind the decision to outlaw the climb, along with the site's cultural significance and safety concerns.

Pauline Hanson — a vocal critic of the Uluru climb ban — got stuck on the rock recently. Picture: Channel 9
Pauline Hanson — a vocal critic of the Uluru climb ban — got stuck on the rock recently. Picture: Channel 9

"They've wanted to see it closed for a very long time, for spiritual reasons, for cultural reasons, but if you speak to them they'll also tell you that it's for safety reasons, they've had to take down bodies off the rock, people have fallen off the rock and it really hurts them when they see visitors being hurt," Mr Martin-Jard told Sky News.

There have been long lines at the site for weeks now. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
There have been long lines at the site for weeks now. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

"They're a bit disappointed with people going to the toilet once they're up there and leaving things like children's kimbies (nappies) behind, and when we have the rare event of rain that pee and crap flows down the rock into very fragile water holes and rock holes that animals drink from."

 

 

From tomorrow, people who climb Uluru will face hefty fines. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
From tomorrow, people who climb Uluru will face hefty fines. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

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