Climb closure threatens Uluru’s World Heritage Listing

An Uluru climber is fighting for the closure of the climb to be banned, arguing it would nullify the rock’s UNESCO World Heritage status.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has started a petition against the closure saying, “Uluru belongs to ‘all Australians'” and he wants it reopened as, “it’ll be one of the great wonders of the world for tourists”.

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The NT News reports, Marc Hendrickx, who has climbed the rock four times and intends to climb it again this year, said the 1987 listing of Uluru as a heritage site marked the climb as an important part.

“One of the listings is about the views around Uluru and the natural landscape value,” he said. “By banning the climb, aren’t we breaching those conditions?”

He has written to Environment Minister Melissa Price, arguing “it is possible the act of climbing, the chain, the five memorial plaques and the most photographed summit monument in the world are already protected under current World Heritage listing currently in place in the park”.

A submission to the UNESCO board in 1987 said the most popular activities at the rock were “sightseeing, walking, climbing Ayers Rock, scenic flights, sunset and sunrise viewing, driving, picnicking and photography”.

“Uluru National Park meets two criteria for natural sites under the World Heritage Convention,” the report stated.

“The immense size of the Uluru monolith and the collection of polished domes at Mt Olga result in a landscape of scenic grandeur.”

In its conclusion, it recommended Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park should be given world heritage status and that “future additions to the area of the site to more completely portray the arid landscape would be welcomed”.

Mr Hendrickx is arguing this submission includes the climb.

“The climb is such a joyful, wonderful experience of the natural world,” he said.

“The views people experience, the camaraderie when people are climbing together as families, it all makes the climb special.

“And the fact that past traditional owners had no problem climbing the rock, even acting as tour guides sometimes, indicated there was nothing particularly sacred about the climbing route.”

Mr Hendrickx, a former Northern Territory geologist, said instead of banning the climb, it should be more informational.

“Part of the problem at the rock is there’s been a focus on the creation story to the detriment of the geological science,” he said.

Tourists will be banned from climbing the rock from October 26 this year, after almost 30 years of campaigning by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta park board (made up primarily of the site’s traditional owners).

Senator Bernardi has told Steve Price on Sydney radio station 2GB, he doesn’t think the climb should be closed.