Tourists rush to climb Uluru before it permanently closes

Tourists from around the world have long visited Australia to climb the Northern Territory’s famous Indigenous landmark, Uluru, but it has been 16 years since it last saw crowds as big as now.

Uluru, considered a sacred and holy place by traditional landowners, will close permanently to the public in October.

But the imminent shutdown is seemingly sparking urgency in the minds of thousands, 10 News First reports.

Last year, visitors to the area were up 20 per cent compared to 2017, with the trend showing no sign of slowing down in the lead up to its October 26 closure.

Walkers have flocked to Uluru to climb it before its closure on October 26. Source: AAP
Walkers have flocked to Uluru to climb it before its closure on October 26. Source: AAP

Debate over public access to the spiritual place has caused division among Australians and visitors alike – some arguing it should be accessible, while many disagreed.

Signs at the rock’s base show a message from central Australian Aboriginal people, Anangu, asking visitors “please not climb”, citing cultural and safety concerns.

Aboriginal elder Sammy Wilson told 10 News First Uluru was a “people’s holy place”, likening it to how welcome anyone would feel having a stranger in their bedroom.

The popular rock climb will be discontinued in October (Watarrka pictured). Source: AAP
The popular rock climb will be discontinued in October (Watarrka pictured). Source: AAP

“Can I climb the house? My friend’s house, or can I open the bedroom? No – only welcome in the lounge room, and we can sit down and talk,” Mr Wilson said.

The board for the national park welcomed the boost in tourism and had already signed off on new ventures as part of the climb closure agreement.

CEO of a neighbouring resort, Greg Hunt, said it was “definitely time” walking across the site was banned.

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