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Uluru climb dismantling to begin within days despite continued opposition to ban

Amos Aikman, Greg Roberts and AAP, October 24, 2019 6:45PM Kids News

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Tourists queue to climb Uluru, NT, on October 13, 2019. Picture: AAP media_cameraTourists queue to climb Uluru, NT, on October 13, 2019. Picture: AAP

civics

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Parks Australia plans to start dismantling the world-famous Uluru climb two days after it closes tomorrow (on October 26), despite pressure to reconsider the climbing ban.

The removal of 138 steel posts, a chain and white markings pointing the way to a cairn* at Uluru’s summit should begin on October 28 and be complete by January 31, 2020, according to tender* documents issued by the Director of National Parks.

Taking down the posts and other material is controversial because it forms part of heritage claims lodged by those seeking to stop the climb closure.

The climb is scheduled to close under a resolution* of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management passed in November 2017.

Hundreds of tourists climbing Uluru. Picture: supplied media_cameraHundreds of tourists climbing Uluru. Picture: supplied

Aboriginal traditional owners have long objected to tourists walking on the rock, where there are many sacred sites, and say they would prefer to develop tourism opportunities of their own.

They have accused authorities of turning Uluru into a “Disneyland” and of ignoring their rights to do as they see fit with their land.

Those opposed to the climbing ban say Aboriginal people used to climb themselves and have helped others in the past, and that the climb is now part of Australia’s cultural heritage, too.

Geologist Marc Hendrickx has appealed to the Human Rights Commission* alleging racial discrimination in relation to the climbing ban.

He has also appealed to the Environment Minister citing the park’s World Heritage listing, which mentions views only accessible from Uluru’s summit.

“Parks Australia and the Minister have denied they are destroying the summit monument, chain and memorial plaques but here we have it written in plain English,” Mr Hendrickx said.

“Australian cultural artefacts, celebrated by the whole world being ripped down in breach* of the lease agreement, in breach of World Heritage Values without due respect to the views of the Australian Public and its political leaders.”

media_cameraTourists pick up their baggage at Uluru Airport near Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT, on October 10. People have been rushing to the area in great numbers to climb before the ban. Picture: AAP

The park’s general manager Mike Misso said Uluru can now be a better tourist destination with more Anangu people working and benefiting from it.

“The dominant reason for the UNESCO World Heritage listing was the living cultural landscape of nature and culture intertwined through traditions over thousands of years,” he said.

“The closure of the climb enhances the park’s world heritage values. It’s in conflict if you have got inappropriate visitor activity.”

media_cameraManager of Uluru Kata-Tjuta Park Mike Misso. Picture: AAP

Tourism Central Australia CEO Stephen Schwer said although a few businesses wanted it to stay open the tourism industry, including the 340 members he worked with, mostly wanted the climb closed, “Particularly tourism operators down at the rock because they work with Anangu on a daily basis and they can see the frustration that it causes them,” he said.

“They’re our friends, these are people who are friends with our tourism operators who even in some cases work with them.”

Uluru’s cultural and religious significance to the Anangu people relates to Tjukurpa, a word for their creation beliefs and law, which outweighs economic* considerations.

media_cameraThe Moon rises over Uluru. Tjukurpa — creation beliefs and law — is more important to the Anangu people than making money from tourists coming to climb the rock. Picture: AAP

The industry also had a responsibility to look after the social, cultural and community values of the destination, as not doing so posed a greater threat to tourism than banning the climb, Mr Schwer said.

There is less wildlife in the region and drinking from waterholes at the bottom of the rock because of human waste entering due to people relieving themselves while climbing.

Another issue was that at least 37 climbers have died and people were injured every week, including a 12-year-old South Australian girl who last week fell several metres and was injured.

“Which other attraction, say a theme park or something that’s had over 30 deaths would still be open to this day?” Mr Schwer said.

“People may disagree with putting it in those terms, but from a tourism perspective we’ve got to manage the destination safely. That is unsafe.”

media_cameraA tour guide speaks to tourists at the bottom of Uluru. Walking around the base of Uluru is popular for those who choose not to climb. Picture: AAP

GLOSSARY

  • cairn: collection of stones to make a significant place
  • tender: bid to do a job
  • resolution: promise or decision
  • Human Rights Commission: an independent organisation that investigates complaints about discrimination
  • breach: break
  • economic: to do with how money moves around a community

EXTRA READING

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Uluru climbers banned from 2019

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Fighting extinction with world’s longest cat fence

QUICK QUIZ

  1. When does the Uluru climb close? When is the dismantling to begin?
  2. What climb equipment is on the rock that needs to be removed?
  3. Who are the Anangu people?
  4. What is Tjukurpa?
  5. Why do fewer animals drink from the waterholes at the base?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. List the reasons
Climbing Uluru will be banned as of October 26, 2019, under a resolution of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management passed in November 2017. Banning people from climbing Uluru has been a hotly contested debate for many years. The article outlines some of the reasons people object to the ban and why others encourage the ban. In a two-column chart, labelled FOR and AGAINST, list the reasons discussed in the article under the appropriate heading.

Can you add any reasons to either side of the debate? (You don’t have to agree with the reason to add it to the chart.)

After looking at both sides of the topic, what is your opinion? Write your opinion in a short paragraph that includes the reasons you feel support your opinion.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural understanding, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and cultures

2. Extension
Climbing to the summit seems to be something that as humans we naturally want to do. All around the world people strive to reach the top of something — examples include; Eureka Tower (Melbourne, Australia), Eiffel Tower (Paris, France), Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and the pinnacle for many climbers — Mt Everest (Nepal/China).

Why do you think we like to reach the top?

Make a list of reasons why you think humans (as a whole) seek to reach the top of buildings and natural landmarks. What is it about the summit of mountains and the roof of buildings that appeals to us? How does it make us feel being up there?

Do any of these reasons negate the importance of respecting the culture of the traditional owners of land where Uluru is? Why/Why not?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural understanding, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and cultures

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do you feel about the decision to ban climbing Uluru?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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