Why you can’t climb Uluru

Why you can’t climb Uluru

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 10/11/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

For decades people have descended on Uluru to marvel at its size and beauty, and for many years people climbed it. So why won’t you be able to anymore?

As of October 26th, 2019, tourists (and locals) can no longer climb Uluru. The ban was passed unanimously in November 2017, but with it officially coming into effect this month people have been flocking to climb the monolith. It’s a move we don’t support, and here is why we won’t be climbing Uluru on any of our tours.

  • Respect

    Uluru is a sacred place for the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the monolith and the land it sits on. For years the Anangu have spoken out against climbing the rock and pleaded with tourists to stop ascending it.

    Uluru is a sacred men’s site. It is of great significance to Anangu men and they have voted for its closure. There are many sites around the base of the site that carry similar cultural significance that visitors also do not visit. Anangu traditional law forbids climbing of the rock. They say that their law teaches them the correct way to behave, and they ask that visitors respect this.

    In addition to being sacred, locals fear for the safety of visitors. Their laws state that it is their job to look after the land and the people who visit it. The climb is not safe and the Anangu are concerned for the health and safety of those who ignore their wishes.

  • It isn’t safe

    If you still want to climb, you might want to think about the safety risks first. The climb up Uluru is incredibly steep and dangerous. People have previously got stuck, injured themselves and even died on the rock.

    Every year rangers must rescue people from the rock face who have broken bones, are suffering severe heat exhaustion or have extreme dehydration. At over 348 metres tall, the climb is extremely steep, and weather conditions change rapidly as you continue up.

  • It hurts the rock

    Okay, so rocks don’t have feelings, but climbers have significantly changed the rock. Not only has the installation of a long metal guide impacted the appearance of the rock, but years of tourists climbing the same path has eroded the rock’s surface. This erosion not only makes the climb steeper, more slippery and more dangerous but also impacts the way water runs down the rock into the environment.

    Speaking of water, with no toilet facilities, people have taken to urinating on the rock. Not only is this incredibly disrespectful but when the rain comes, the urine is flushed down the rock and the changed water conditions can harm the ecosystem below.

  • You just won’t look good

    With most visitors choosing to not climb Uluru now, those who do climb stick out like a sore thumb. Studies have shown that the most common reason people are not climbing Uluru is due to the requests of the Anangu people. So, if you’re still wanting to climb, consider a free guided tour around the base of Uluru first, to learn more about its significance and make an informed decision.

Related article: How can you see Uluru?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.