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Calls to re-open the Uluru climb

After it’s controversial permanent closure to climbers from 26th October last year, there are now calls to re-open the Uluru climb to help rebuild tourism in the NT.

ABC News spoke with Dave Batic who is Chairman of the Alice Springs Major Business Group and general manager of Alice Springs airport.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s associated impact on tourism, Mr Batic has proposed opening the climb for two-to-three years in partnership with the traditional owners as a windfall for Territory tourism.

“The concept there is that the traditional owners would provide tours for paying climbers and have a safety harness system in place just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he said.

The idea to move to a ‘managed and guided’ climb similar to the Bridge Climb gathered some momentum prior to the closure last year but wasn’t adopted.

Some would argue that this approach has a number of benefits over a total closure:

  • It ensures the safety of climbers
  • It provides an opportunity for a more in depth learning experience
  • It provides employment and income for the traditional owners as guides and managers

However, traditional owner and former Chairman of the Uluru Kata-Tjuta Board of Management, Sammy Wilson disagrees.

“No. Enough is enough. The word is no,” said Mr Wilson, who remains on the board.

“We don’t want to open a can of worms or put more logs on the fire.”

Traditional owners say closing the climb presents an opportunity for visitors to experience the spectacular country around Uluru and learn about the Anangu people and culture.


My opinion

I’ve climbed the rock and walked around the base several times over the years and there is no way I would leave a visit to the rock off my NT road trip itinerary if time permits.

I respect the traditional owners perspective but at the same time can see the benefits of a managed climb and would be happy to pay for the experience, as would many others.

But climb or no climb, it’s a magical place and I’m looking forward to getting back there again soon.

What do you think?

Should the climb be re-opened?

Take our poll below and tell us what you think.

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Steve Baile
Steve Baile
I’m the founder of Expedition Australia, a writer, filmmaker & adventure travel junkie. Passionate about my family, health and fitness, hiking, 4WD touring, adventure motorbikes, camping and exploring as much of the planet as I can.


    • Agreed, if we are truly one people then we should all have a say, the pandemic has shown us that we can become one again no matter what our race or background

        • Please do go somewhere else. And no, it doesn’t belong to all ‘Australians’ it belongs to the Anangu people. Stop being a selfish twat.

  1. I believe that the Rock belongs to all Australians and that it should have remained open. I respect the traditional owners and their culture however the decision to close the climb is denying the opportunity for anyone who is interested in climbing the Rock and experiencing it’s beauty from them

  2. If you truly respect the traditional owners and custodians of the land, then you would understand, respect and honour their decision. I don’t see evidence of that here. I see self-interest and talk of money.

  3. I have been to Uluru and Kata Tjuta 3 times and have never climbed Uluru out of respect to the traditional owners request. I have always had a fantastic time walking around the rock, looking at the nature,history, the sunrises, sunets and walking through the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta. Many people only respect the traditional owners when it suits them.

  4. I feel open it with guides and harnesses at a fee.
    1, Elders we spoke to there stated they’d climbed the rock when younger
    2. The cost of rescuing people from the rock in medical emergencies and when they can’t come down is exorbitant so make it fee fro service, including responsibility for emergency rescue costs. Then it’ll be no cost to the community.
    3. Guides can give indigenous and geological facts as part of the tour in a managed and controlled way. Not the free for all we witnessed last year.

  5. Yes it should be reopened. For everyone. I respect the custodians of Uluru. I have climbed it, have a deep respect for it to be looked after. It should be left as it is not trashed with what has been suggested. That would take away the spiritual feel for it. I am not of Aboriginal ancestry but a true Australian. Born and raised

    • For sure reopen the climb. I have done it twice and the magic cannot be described. I respect the true Australians’ claims but why spoil the dreams of children and others who stand in awe of this legendary icon? My kids and their kids need to make their choices. Do not deny their chance to visit and climb.

  6. Yes, open it and let people climb if they want to. It’s just a rock, like the beaches and rivers and mountains. They are there for everyone to enjoy not for a few to make money out of.

  7. We expect other cultures to respect our sacred places so we should respect the sites of others.

  8. The Rock belongs to all Australians, not just the Aborigines!

    Why can’t we all get on as one?

    • So does the opera house or a church any other landmark but we are not freely able to climb it.

      • Kim – totally different scenario. The Opera House and a church are not created in nature.

    • No. It shouldn’t. By that idiotic logic we should all be allowed to climb on your roof & desecrate your belongings.

  9. It’s all about the $$$$$$… no money coming in….. so sad. They closed it on a principle…. it should stay closed! Can’t have it both ways…

  10. No leave it closed just stay off it. Visited there last year amazing didn’t need to climb. I’m glad Uluru has been handed back to those who truly care for it. I can imagine if it not there would be parasailing of it, a chair lift up to the top, steel structures walk way and cafe destroyed by those who want to make a dollar. It is sacred and awesome just leave it alone.

  11. Leave it closed. There were too many people climbing it without a clue of what was involved and with no respect for the site.

  12. The traditional owners wanted it closed for spiritual reason, opening it up for a quick dash for cash makes a Joke out of the whole thing. Either leave it closed or open it up permanently with a legally binding guarantee it wont be closed again for at least 25 years. Because it would be obvious it doesn’t have the spiritual significance that was claimed as the reason for closing it.

  13. Climbing of the rock was ceased due to safety and respect for the sacred site and people of Uluru. If those reasons well valid when it was closed they still remain valid today. The fact that the northern Territory see it as a means of creating tourism revenue is not a valid reason to re-open. To install safety rails similar to the sydney Harbour bridge would totally alter the natural beauty of the rock and create a scar that could never be repaired. Uluru needs to be preserved for future generations to enjoy as a natural wonder not another money making theme park.

  14. It was closed for a reason, those reasons are either still valid or they were not in the first place, so decide if they were then it stays closed, if they werent, then re-open it and dont bring it up again

  15. It should be open for the public to climb it … I climbed it in the 1960’s and it was no problem … It was ok to be open to climb and for the public to pay an entrance fee which went to the aboriginal community , then Uluru township was started to get more money for the locals . When i climbed it the last place you could get any meals was Curtin Springs … From there it was a bush track through the sandhills and the entrance was on the opposite side of the Rock … Then later in the 1980’s i was working in Alice Springs driving road trains and carting freight to Ayers Rock …. It was ok then for the Aboriginals to get money from the people up till recently when it was closed to climbers and the money stopped flowing …. Now that the money has stopped rolling in they want to open it again for tourists so they can get more money …It is not about safety ……It is about MONEY ….

    • Well said Alan, I agree. If closing the rock was about culture (and I have no problem with that) then thats it, its closed forever now. Now they have to put up with the consequences of that. But alas, now the money has stopped rolling in???? If it is to be opened, then open it the way it was, and don’t ever again ask to close it. if people fall off and die, so be it, they know the risks, just like driving your car down the road, you could die in an accident. This is what happens when you bleed everyone dry of money, it doesn’t last forever.

    • your’re rights it’s about money not for the TO(traditional owners) but for the company that leased the Alice Springs airport from the Federal Government. This guy made a packet during the final months of the closure, and is now taking a big hit because of COVID-19 we need to resist calls to do things the old way. It’s time to leave disrespect and ignorance in the past

    • Read the article. It’s not the traditional owners that want it opened but the major businesses (read Yulara Resort) and the airport. Business is down in all tourism around the world, it’s not just in Australia. You’re not allowed to climb Westminster Abbey. Different people have different religions or beliefs and that has to be respected.

  16. Respect, it won’t be decided on this forum. I. Don’t see any First Nation People on here asking for it to be reopened. There’s plenty else to see and climb in Northern Territory and Australia. Love it the way it is.

  17. I agree it should be open with guided climbs. It is part of Australia next you won’t be go out onto the reef .we are all Australian. If we cannot climb the rock we should boycott the area and go somewhere else/

  18. You do not need to climb Uluru to experience / appreciate the beauty and spiritual awareness that abounds.

  19. So it was closed for the traditional owners and now you want to reopen it for money. Sorry. No.

  20. I believe that the Rock belongs to all Australians and that it should have remained open. I respect the traditional owners and their culture however the decision to close the climb is denying the opportunity for anyone who is interested in climbing the Rock and experiencing it’s beauty from them

  21. I am lucky to have discussed this with Traditional Owners of Uluru. They are very firmly in favour of permanent closure. There are many reasons for this that are not openly discussed in the media. One they told me about was that over the years some tourists have defecated and peed on the rock and that has been fouling Mutujulu waterhole. The other reasons were based on its nature as a sacred site. I have walked around the rock three times over the years since first visiting in 1990. I firmly believe that the climb should remain closed. I also believe in unity as a country, but that should not be at the expense of the Aboriginal people.

  22. Time to generate some good will. Cultural reasons for closing were either real or they were not.

    Allow free public climbing under a long term agreement and ensure everyone understands and acknowledges this is a privelaged gift from traditional owners to all people.
    Generate good will.

    • No ..not our decision.. custodians only have that right ..Uluru is not gym equipment. It is sacred site and if the custodians say it is offensive to walk over such a precious icon then end of discussion!..agree with Bev ..there is no discussion about climbing over the Sistine chapel or the wailing wall in Jerusalem, Buckingham palace or The Forbidden City buildings in China so why is it ok to even consider walking up Uluru?

  23. Does not worry me one way or another, I have been to the rock 3 times climbed and walked around etc, I am in awe of their culture from cape york down, always have been, however they do not own it, they have been caretakers of it, and all traditional land. A bit of give and take would go a long way they want people to visit the centre, pay their high camping fees etc etc then they must give a little also. Big difference between my first visit in 1990 to my last 2018 camping, moving about etc. Its not my fault the borders are closed and even if they were open the centre is not on my radar, like the kimberlys getting to expensive. ( god I’m becoming a grumpy old nomad ).

  24. I climbed Uluru many years ago when it was not generally known to be a concern to the traditional owner. Since it is now clear they don’t want it to be climbed, I fully respect that. It is a mysterious place and just being there can be enjoy by walking around. As a climb it is quite tame. If someone wants a thrill, go and climb in the Blue Mountains and the Djurite (Arapiles). Sadly the Gariwerd (Grampians) is now restricted. I hope some good will, will be returned.

  25. I went there just before it closed and sure as hell was going to climb it. However it was closed due to extreme heat. After a guided walk around the rock and having had the “DANGER – DO NOT SWIM HERE” notices explained to me I completely changed my mind and decided no way should I do the climb. Apparently the urine and faeces from the climbers washes down into many of the pools to the extent that they are not safe to swim in. What an insult to the traditional owners. My cricket bat would certainly get some use if I caught someone crapping on my front lawn. Not inferring anything here but the stats recorded that the majority of climbers came from Asian countries.

    • HOWEVER… if it develops that the traditional owners want to re-open the climb on some basis in return for dosh that will blow my feelings out of the water and I shall revert to a THEY CAN GO TO HELL opinion and open slather should prevail.

  26. The decision has been made, leave it closed. The rock is sacred in aboriginal culture and should be respected as such. How would we like people walking and climbing over the altars in our cathedrals and churches? Admire the beauty of it from the ground and when flying into and out of Uluru airport.

  27. The rock should have been left open and for anyone who wants to climb it to be able to. The rock belongs to all of Australia.
    We always said that as soon as the money stopped rolling in, they would look at re-opening it…

    • No, I think you are mistaken…If you actually read the article, it states that one man, that being, Dave Batic proposed to open the climb. Nowhere does it say that the traditional owners of the land wish to re-open the climb at all. Frankly, It is disgusting to hear people say that Ulura belongs to “all of Australia.” It is a sacred place that should be left alone. Honestly, us white Australians should be happy that we even get a an opportunity to see such an amazing place. Perhaps if people did their research on Aboriginal culture, they would understand.

  28. Hi all
    I visited the rock in last July. I did not choose to climb in respect to the indigenous people. But came around the rock. It was amazing. You can see different formations and caves all around. Definitely I will visit again.

  29. Jesus. White Australia will never learn. Leave it close and have some respect for a collective group of people who have asked you to kindly respect their wishes .

    • Leave it closed, please respect the rights and wishes of the indigenous people. It’s just as beautiful to look at from the ground and still worth the trip to see it.

  30. Just imagine if they closed down Mount Everest and every other climbing mound or Mountain on Earth because the land/Countries Owners didn’t want their Lands littered with dead bodies rubbish and people’s excrement…..
    Same deal…
    No more money coming in..!!
    Governments are expected to cover the lost money of lost Businesses..!
    Money talks all Languages and is what Religion is based on..!!
    Keep the Rock closed..
    The lands owners demanded it…
    Butt the Greedy money grubers are now crying poor….

  31. So closing the rock to climbing will not stop tourism, I guess use were wrong. So money means more to the traditional owners then the respect of your culture. I personally wouldn’t go there, couldn’t think of anything more boring,

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