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Uluru In Australia, the Holy Site of Anangu, banned for climbers from Saturday: NPR



Uluru spotted at sunset from a designated viewing area earlier this year in the Australian National Park Uluru-Kata Tuta. The sandstone monolith will be closed to climbers permanently on Saturday, as a blow to tourists' aspirations and a boon to Aboriginal peoples who consider it sacred.

Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images


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Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images

Uluru observed at sunset from a designated viewing area earlier this year in the Australian National Park Uluru-Kata Tuta. The sandstone monolith will be closed to climbers permanently on Saturday, as a blow to tourists' aspirations and a boon to Aboriginal peoples who consider it sacred.

Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images

Nestled deep in the Australian suburban area, about 280 miles from the nearest town, the red sandstone hippo rises even higher than the Eiffel Tower – and stands at the center of decades of disagreement between tourists and its traditional owners. This dispute may finally come to a resolution on Saturday, when the impressive monolith known as Uluru will be permanently closed to climbers.

The imminent closure is celebrated by Anangu's indigenous population, who consider the place sacred and has long watched with anguish as tens of thousands of visitors try to increase it every year.

"This is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland," Sammy Wilson, then chairman of the board that runs Uluru- Kata Tutta National Park, said the board voted unanimously in 2017 for official closure of Uluru for mountaineers. "We want you to come, hear us and learn. We've been thinking about this for a very long time. "

At that time, the board – consisting of both national park officials and traditional indigenous peoples like Wilson – was elected to postpone the ban until October 26, 2019, auspicious date in the history of the park. Exactly 34 years earlier, on 26 October 1985, the Australian authorities regained ownership of the land of traditional owners.

This year, with the ban, authorities in the park say they have seen a significant spike in visitors, many of whom have sought a dangerous climb while still being able to take it – passing signs at its primary warning, several different language, against that. In recent months, images of enormously crowded paths have been circulated on social media .

"The feeling you get from standing on top is simply indescribable," a recent climber who asked not to be identified, explained to the BBC. "I felt a sense of reverence for the rock afterwards.

The local Aboriginal leaders wish instead to experience and express that reverence for the UNESCO World Heritage Site without having to climb it.

" If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, a restricted area, I do not enter and climb it, I respect it. This is the same for Anangu, "said Wilson." We welcome tourists here. We do not stop tourism, only this activity. "

Visitors read a sign saying the temporary closure of the area around the site in August. Come Sunday, the site will be closed permanently to climbers – some of them killed in an attempt to climb Urulu steeply. .

Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images


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Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images

Visitors read a sign announcing the temporary closure of the area around the site in August. Come Sunday, the site will be closed to permanent climbers – some of them killed in an attempt to climb Urulu steeply.

Lisa Marie Williams / Getty Images

Not only did the sanctity of the site persuade employees to block climbing; this is the fraudulent danger of the activity.

In a data sheet entitled "Please Don't Climb," Parks Australia says that since record-keeping began in the 1950s, at least 35 people have died in an attempt to scale the monolith, which is approximately 95 stories steep, slippery and subjected to strong gusts. Every year, rescue teams find their hands full with climbers struck by injuries, heat exhaustion or dehydration.

In fact, just last week, a 12-year-old girl nearly died after falling more than 65 feet while climbing with her family. She only survived with minor injuries, but only after being taken to a medical clinic in the nearest town, Alice Springs.

After Saturday's closure, park authorities plan to remove a chain that was installed to help climbers and any found climbing of the monolith will be hit with a huge fine.


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