In line with the agreed process in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2010-2020 and the wishes of traditional owners, the climb to the top of Uluru will close on 26 October 2019.
The management plan stated that the Uluru climb would close once one of three preconditions, including less than 20 per cent of visitors climb and that the cultural and natural experiences on offer are the main reasons why people visit the park, had been met. The Board is satisfied that these criteria have now been met.
In an historic decision today, the park’s Board of Management, made up of a majority of Aboriginal traditional owners, unanimously decided to close it.
Uluru traditional owner and board chairman Sammy Wilson said simply that it was time.
“We’ve talked about it for so long and now we’re able to close the climb. It’s about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu,” Mr Wilson said.
“This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu together to feel proud about; to realise, of course it’s the right thing to close it.
“The land has law and culture. We welcome tourists here. Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about but a cause for celebration. Let’s come together; let’s close it together.
“If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. It is the same here for Anangu. We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity.
Mr Wilson said that the climb may close, but Anangu believed it would open up more opportunities for partnerships with traditional owners, based on true cultural experiences for visitors.
Director of National Parks Sally Barnes, also a member of the Board, said they had set the firm date of 26 October 2019.
“We’ve chosen the date of 26 October 2019 to close the climb permanently as it is a date of huge significance to Anangu. On 26 October 1985 Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to Anangu after many years of hard work by elders,” Ms Barnes said.
“We’ve always committed to giving the tourism industry at least 18 months’ notice. While there has been a significant reduction in the numbers of people wanting to climb, to less than 20 per cent, today we’ve got many alternative activities on place on the ground that people can enjoy instead of climbing.
“This includes experiencing Uluru’s culture – for which we’re World-Heritage listed. To come and learn from Anangu about their culture is one of the most memorable experiences for many of our visitors. On a personal note, to be part of this moment of Australian history, is an enormous honour.
“We’re looking forward to a future where we can all work together to protect culture and country as we should do, while continuing to provide visitors with fulfilling experiences based on the parks unique cultural and natural attractions.
“This is a significant moment for all Australians and marks a new chapter in our history. It clearly says we put country and culture first when managing this place for all Australians and our visitors from around the world.”