Should You Climb Uluru?


Uluru is one of Australia's most recognisable natural landmarks. Uluru also known as Ayers Rock is a large isolated sandstone rock formation that stands 348 meters high and more than 8 km (5 miles) around and located in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. The nearest town is Alice Springs which is 450km (280 miles) away.

Uluru contains a variety of interesting canyons, caves, crevices and natural formations with springs, waterholes and ancient carvings and paintings and the area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, are the two major features of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The Aṉangu people, Uluru’s Aboriginal owners are the traditional inhabitants of the area.

Entry fee for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is $25 (£13.50) and that is for 3 consecutive days. Plus accommodation fees.

What can you do at Uluru?

There are many, many tours you can go on, from sunset dinners to a guided tour of Uluru led by the Aṉangu people who will teach you the cultural and spiritual significance and inform you of the the local flora and fauna, bush food and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.

You can also self-guide and arrive for sunrise or sunset and watch as the rock morphs into many different colours with the reflecting light.

Sunset

Sunrise

There are many different walks you can take; the most popular walk is the Uluru Base Walk which allows you to fully appreciate the natural and cultural beauty of Uluru. Start and finish from the Mala carpark, this walk is a 10.6 km loop and takes approximately 3 to 4 hours.

The national park has an excellent Cultural Centre, where you can watch Anangu artists at work and the price is included in your park entry fee.

What about climbing Uluru?

You may or may not know that the Aboriginal owners of Uluru prefer you - and ask you - not to climb Uluru...

Climbing Uluru goes against the wishes of the Anangu people for whom the rock and all associated with it, hold deep spiritual significance. If you weren’t aware of the cultural implications of climbing Uluru before, they are difficult to ignore when you visit, upon arrival at the park you are given a leaflet that says not to climb and at the base it’s impossible to miss the huge signboard at the base of the climb.

The sign reads “We, the traditional Anangu owners, have this to say, Uluru is sacred in our culture, a place of great knowledge. Under our traditional law, climbing is not permitted. This is our home. Please don’t climb.”

The local Aṉangu do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance. They request that visitors do not climb the rock, partly due to the path crossing a sacred traditional Dreamtime track, and also due to a sense of responsibility for the safety of visitors.

There is also a myth, or is that truth, that is you take any rocks from the formation you will be cursed. Many people have taken such rocks only to return them in the mail as they are afraid of the perceived curse.

Climbing Uluru, however, is perfectly legal, and hundreds of thousands of tourists march right past the sign and up the rock each year.

Numbers of climbers have been decreasing over the last decade from 1 in 3 climbers to 1 in 6. Most days the climb remains open except in the following situations;

Heat – when it is hotter than 36 degrees centigrade

Wind – during high wind Storms - closer than 50km to Uluru Rain - +20% chance of rain Lightning - more than 5% chance of thunderstorms Cloud – if cloud descends to or below the summit of Uluru Darkness - closed from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise Rescue - closed during all rescue operations on Uluru Cultural Reasons - closed upon request from Traditional Owners following a death or due to a cultural event or ceremony occurring.

Be warned though that the climb can be rather strenuous, the first part is a steep 800 metres and a chain handrail has been installed for safety. The whole path is 1.6 km and will take between 2 and 3 hours to complete.

Those that are unfit, suffer from vertigo or medical conditions should not even attempt it. Since tourism kicked off here in the 1940’s more than 35 people have died during the climb, most have been heart attacks but also it is reported people have fallen into crevices, many more have been rescued at great risk and expense.

Do we regret climbing Uluru? Would we do it again?

We climbed back in 2012 and I would like to think we were ignorant of the culture we were disobeying but truth is, we seen hundreds of other people doing it and we didn’t want to miss out, we were unsure at the time but glad we did the climb.

Now in 2018 we feel we did wrong, we were on someone else’s land and disrespected the owners.

What are the views like? Is it worth the climb?

The climb is rather tiring and also it is usually very hot and dry. It does feel like you are on Mars or somewhere out of this world as the dusty red ground is full of cracks and crevices and dried bubbly rocks. At the top it feels like you’re on top of the world, the cars in the car park and people at the base are like ants. The only view is the arid flat landscape and the nearby Kata Tjuta. It is a special thing to do and we think the photographs speak for themselves,

Safety- if you decide to climb

  • Stay on the marked tracks at all times.

  • Always walk or climb with another person.

  • Carry and drink one litre of water for every hour you walk or climb in hot weather.

  • Wear sturdy, rubber-soled boots or shoes, a hat with a secure strap, a long-sleeved shirt, and maximum protection sunscreen.

  • In very hot weather walk only in the coolest part of the day.

  • Do not climb or do a strenuous walk if you have: High or low blood pressure, heart problems, breathing problems, a fear of heights, or if you are not reasonably fit.

  • Do not try to retrieve things that have dropped or blown way from the climbing track.

  • Do not drink alcohol or eat a large meal before you walk or climb. (Alcohol is banned in this area)

  • Obey all safety directions, notices and warning signs

  • If you feel ill or have been injured, stay where you are and tell someone to contact a Ranger

  • Take rubbish back down with you

A little question for those thinking of doing the climb….

Would you refuse to; Remove your hat in church? To cover your shoulders in a temple? Remove shoes when entering a mosque or someone’s home? Would you defy the Aṉangu people’s wishes just so you can get a selfie at the top of their land?

Climbing Uluru will be banned!

The ban will begin on October 26th 2019 to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the return of Uluru to the traditional owners.

Other things you can to do instead of climbing Uluru

Kata Tjuta- The Valley of the Winds walk is an excellent alternative to climbing Uluru and offers views of the spectacular landscape including Uluru from two lookout points along the track. Please beware that the walk is sometimes steep, rocky and difficult. It takes 46 minutes to drive and is 58 km away.

A trip to Uluru is also about experiencing and understanding its cultural and spiritual significance. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have great cultural significance for the Anangu traditional landowners, take a tour and learn about their culture and the area.

Prices correct as of March 2018

Would you climb Uluru? Have you done so already? Do you judge us for climbing?

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