Uluru at sunset under colorful clouds,Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
This is a decision that seems to have been a long time coming. The majestic Uluru Rock, formerly known as Ayer’s Rock, lies right in the heart of the Red Center of Australia’s Northern Territory. It is symbolic of the expansive, arid Australian outback. Hell, the sandstone monolith is considered a symbolic representation of the entire continent-country, alongside the Sydney Opera House. And on November 1, 2017, it will be closed off to climbers from October 26, 2019. ALSO READ: Photos of Canberra that Show You Why This is Australia’s Capital
The decision to shut off access to Uluru was made after a vote was cast by members of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board. Spread across around 1,330 square kilometers, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to another prominent Australian landmark that it is named after: the Kata Tjuta rock formations. With the new move, visitors will not be permitted to climb the Uluru, which rises up to an elevation of 863 m (2,831 feet). They will only be allowed to visit the area around the rock.
The board’s vote to ban climbing was unanimous, and it was made by three National Parks officials as well as eight members of the Anangu tribe, which considers the Uluru a sacred site. The debate over whether the site should be closed off for religious reasons has been going on for a while now. The Anangu tribe were given back the Uluru back in 1985, and there have been signs discouraging climbing the rock since 1992. John O’Sullivan, the MD of Tourism Australia, hopes that local and foreign visitors will respect the wishes of the native tribe.
The initial reaction from travelers has been positive. That the Uluru is considered a sacred site is a well-known fact. The Anangu say that the rock is the home of ancient ancestral beings that created the world as we know it today, called the Waparitja or Tjukuritja. These creatures traveled the world, creating the mountains, rivers and forests as we see them today. NOW READ: Diving and Dining in South Australia: in Conversation With Chef Kunal Kapoor
For most visitors, the best experience of Uluru isn’t climbing the rock itself. It is, in fact, walking around the expansive base of Uluru and seeing the majesty of this natural phenomenon up close, and watching the rock’s sandstone glow during sunrise and sunset. Plus, with the new ban on climbing, more visitor experiences will be added at Uluru to better experience the beauty of this natural heritage site.