Climbing access to Ayers Rock, traditionally known as Uluru, is to be restricted from 2019 so its indigenous custodians can preserve the sacred site.
NITV reporter Ryan Liddle spoke to Kawekōrero Reporters about the decision.
“It is an internationally renowned natural wonder of the world,” said Liddle.
“It also has an extra significance to us as indigenous people from there. There are ancient stories associated with Uluru, that range hundreds of kilometres in every direction. It was also a traditional meeting place. An area for learning, for hunting, for camping. So it’s got a lot of significance to Aboriginal people.”
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, where Uluru is situated, was handed back to the traditional owners of the area in 1985. Then it was leased to the Australian Government who have since co-managed it with traditional land owners. But it hasn’t always been easy to manage the safety of tourists climbing the rock.
“There have been 30 deaths of people who have tried to climb Uluru,” said Liddle.
“There’s rescues every year which not only endanger Parks and Wildlife staff and the rescue efforts with police and emergency services. There’s no facilities at the top of Uluru for water or going to the toilet.”
Around 400,000 people visit Uluru every year but since the number of climbers declined to 16 per cent this year, it was decided to close access to the rock.