To climb Uluru or not to climb, that WAS the question. As of October 2019 visitors no longer have a choice in the matter. Our beloved Uluru is now under a blanket climbing ban – and with good reason.
If you are planning to visit Uluru and want to know what else there is to do now you can no longer climb (and there is loads), check out our 11 things to do at Uluru (that aren’t climbing), ‘The Rock’ in a nutshell or the unexpected things you can do at Uluru.
Q. Is there any way to climb the rock without a guilty conscience?
No. But despite this, hundreds of thousands of tourists scale The Rock every year, against the express wishes of the traditional owners, the Anangu people. This has played a part in the decision of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board to unanimously ban the climb – and we couldn’t be more pleased.
Here are five reasons the Uluru climb is now a thing of the past…
1. Would you climb a church?
Bottom line: The ban on climbing Uluru only came into effect on October 26 2019, but the traditional owners have long been asking visitors not to climb. The Anangu consider Uluru an intensely spiritual place, an area where their Tjukurpa (creation stories), which govern their ceremonies, art and rules for living, converge.
The Rock is said to be spiritually significant because it was a traditional route of their ancestral Mala men. UNESCO has acknowledged this ‘cultural landscape’ by deeming it a World Heritage area so it’s hard to argue.
Would you climb over a church or wander through someone’s backyard without permission?
2. The scar of Uluru
The central Australian deserts and Uluru itself may seem outback tough, but the semi-arid ecosystem is actually quite fragile, as can be seen by the erosion along the historic climbing route, known as the Scar of Uluru. The wearing away of the sandstone is a very real issue.
3. Nowhere, to, well, go…
There are no toilet facilities on top of Uluru, so when nature inevitably calls the climbers use it as a loo, highlighted by media reports of tourists treating Uluru as a toilet.
And when the rains eventually come, that concentration of number ones and numbers twos flush straight into the waterholes below, tainting the water that threatened flora and fauna rely on.
4. Because it’s dangerous
Okay, so 348 metres might not seem high in terms of mountains (Kosciusko stands at 2228 metres, for example), but Uluru has reportedly claimed 38 lives in recorded history.
Unfit tourists often underestimate the task, and the chain along the climbing route is inadequate for the steep and sometimes slippery surface.
The 95-storey climb is often closed anyway due to wind, storm, and over the hot summer months (or temperatures above 36°C). When a person dies on their traditional sites, it is said to cause great sadness to the Anangu.
5. There are endless alternatives to climbing
You can enjoy it with champagne in hand or dine on a sand dune in its presence at the intimate Tali Wiru experience or the bigger crowds of the Sounds of Silence. You have to do at least one of these alfresco dining options on your first trip (try and time it with the waning crescent moon phase to have a spectacular star watching session).
You can ride a bicycle around its base and there’s also a wide range of guided walks (for example, Mutitjulu Waterhole) where you can see rock art up close with someone who can tell you the story of the land.
Heck, you can even sky dive over Uluru if you’re looking for an adrenaline challenge.
Check out our Uluru you didn’t expect for more.