As we move ever closer to the climbing ban on Uluru, it seems that tour companies will still offer the opportunity. Today’s death, while tragic, is an indication of minds not changing.
This morning another has died climbing Uluru, the 37th since they recorded such a statistic. I believe that number thirty-seven should not just represent the last to die on Uluru, but rather, the last to climb it. Enough already.
I’m not speaking ill of the dead, and no-one should die on holiday, but the number is galling, as is the culture that still enables it. Despite the climbing ban coming into effect next year, a change of culture has not walked with it. There is, of course, money to be made, and tourists to fleece. It seems that every dollar will be squeezed until it’s officially official. A last hurrah for those looking to cash in, so you better do it now, before you can’t.
For what it’s worth, the material available online makes it extremely clear:
The next sentence states the traditional owners ask visitors not to climb, but if they choose to, please do it safely. I’m not here to pick semantics with the wording, but it falls victim to a very human condition. Those words have the same effect as a please don’t park here sign. You park there, because you feel you can. Because they asked you nicely.
My problem is with the tour companies that offer Uluru as a destination. Their websites echo the official line: The owners would rather you not climb it, but we can’t stop you. They’re respecting the site. So much so that they’ll drive you there for a price to not climb it. The choice lies with the visitor. I mean, if you’re in Australia once, you would climb it, right? You’re never going to be here again. Uluru in the collective mind is a religious site and a money spinner.
I’m not saying it should be scrubbed as a tourist destination, no. Morning light over Uluru is a humbling, ancient experience, one that should be lived by all. But it is a place that should be enjoyed with the correct mindset. It remains a sacred place for the Anangu. You might not take our religion seriously, and that’s fine, but treat it as you would a museum: See with your eyes, and not your hands. Stay behind the velvet rope, visitors should not be offered the opportunity to step over it.
You’re not missing anything, anyway. The beauty of Uluru is not what you can see from atop it, but rather what it reveals when it looms over you.
Let it talk to you, don’t stand on its windpipe.