Should People Climb Uluru?

Host: Isolated Children Parent’s Assocation
Written by Tom McMaster – Year 6 at Alice Springs School of the Air.

Save the date for the 2017 Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Federal Conference to be held in Alice Springs, August 2-3. Hosted by the Alice Springs Branch, this promises to be a great conference in true Territory style. Find all information at this link: 

(This is a persuasive text assessment, Week 10 Term 1, 2017. The purpose of persuasive writing is to convince the reader – similar to a debate. It is a written argument, backed up by evidence or supporting facts. The views in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Central Station.)

Have you ever been to Uluru? More than 250,000 tourists visit Uluru each year, bringing money with them to spend here in Central Australia. Uluru is a great icon of Australia. Visitors come to Australia to see the largest monolith in the world!

I believe everyone should see Uluru at least once in their lives, but I deeply believe it is culturally insensitive to climb the rock. PLEASE don’t climb the rock!

I would like to get something clear right from the start, tourism is one of the most important ways for Australia to get income. There are some businesses that only get income from tourism. So, that means if someone flies in to go to Uluru to spend their money, that money gives the community money to carry on.

In 1962 Peter Severin from Curtin Springs paved the way for tourism at Uluru by putting up a chain on the rock. Back then Uluru was run by the NT Reserve Board. There was a discussion about putting up a chair lift or a chain, so they chose the chain. There were four young men and the way they had to do it is by carrying the drills, air compressor, chain, poles, and a special liquid. They had to find a way up to install the chain. It was very difficult but not impossible. It took them eight weeks.

When they first arrived at Uluru there was nothing at the rock because there was no water, but in the rainy seasons the Aboriginal people came. They were nomadic back then and the tribes followed the water. You can tell they were there because of the paintings on the rock.

After they put the chain up, Mr Severin and his mates started making some infrastructure for the rangers to live in and use. Uluru was only open for six months of the year at first and only six people went in the first twelve months of the chain. Now it is open all year and they are getting over forty busses a week, as well as the self-drive market.

All this progress means the area has been developed. There is permanent water, schools, houses, services, all because of tourism. Aboriginal people who belong to the land can now live there at Mutijulu, wet or dry season, so it is good that tourists came to Uluru.

As well as the development of infrastructure, tourists themselves have progressed too. Once they came to climb and conquer the rock. Now they come to learn and connect with the country and its traditional owners.

The “field trip” classmates.

Lachie, a tour guide from SEIT Outback Tours says that people from all over the world come to see the rock. Lachie’s opinion is that the owners of the land don’t want people to climb the rock. They choose not to climb it themselves. Lachie says that you should learn from the land before you start to consider climbing Uluru. He also says to think of what might happen up there. People have to understand that we are visitors to this land, we can’t just walk around like we own Uluru.

In addition to this, I would like to point out that you can still enjoy the awe of the rock without climbing it. Lisa Evans is the marketing manager of Uluru Camel Tours. When we interviewed Lisa she said that there is a lot more to do at Uluru than just climb it. You can walk around it, ride a camel, ride a Harley, ride a Segway, you can sky dive and go on a helicopter ride!

Chansey Paech is our representative for Namatjira, an electorate which covers an area that is from the Sandover Highway to the South Australia border and from the Western Australian border to the Queensland border. He believes that some traditional owners consent to climbing the rock because it brings in tourism and an economic base. Others don’t support it because Uluru is a very sacred place. Bob Randall is a well-known traditional owner from Mutijulu (at Uluru) who recently passed away. In a Youtube clip he says, ‘We don’t own the land, the land owns us.’ He talks about a ‘oneness’ that the people have with their country and he said he was so lucky to live there.

Chansey reports that over a period of time the National Park is working on closing the climb for good. Chansey’s view as a local Member and a local Indigenous man is that he will never climb the rock and I support his view.

It is a fact that more than thirty-six people have died from climbing the rock. The thought of going up there freaks me out, one slip and you are gone!

In summary it is my firm opinion that tourism is vital to Central Australia but people should not climb the rock. There are so many other tourist attractions to give you an adrenalin rush at Uluru. We should be culturally sensitive and respect the wishes of the traditional owners and lastly it is very dangerous.

I would like to conclude with the words from a famous Australian song by a band called Goanna. ‘Solid Rock’ is written about Uluru.

Out here nothin’ changes, not in a hurry anyway
You feel the endlessness with the comin’ of the light o’ day
We’re talkin’ about a chosen place

You wouldn’t sell it in a marketplace, well

Well just a minute now.

Standing on solid rock
Standing on sacred ground
Living o-on borrowed ti-i-i-ime
And the winds of change are blowin’ down the line.

I believe the winds of change are blowing now. When you are lucky enough to visit this spiritual place, please don’t climb Uluru.