What does the Uluru Climb Ban Mean For Tourism to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park?
October 26th 2019 marked the day that Uluru permanently closed for those wanting to scale the sacred rock. And as the last climbers descended from the 300 million year old monolith, the land exhaled a sigh of relief.
Since the 1950s the Angunu people have watched their sacred site be scrambled upon by hundreds of thousands of tourists, despite many traditional landowners erecting signs pleading with tourists not to climb Uluru.
“It’s not an easy thing to describe, you really do have to be there to feel the energy of the Central Desert. So isolated, you get a sense you could be stepping on ground never stepped on before.” Dan Satcliffe, Mulgas Adventures tour guide.
The Uluru Climbing Ban
Friday 26th October saw snaking lines of last chance tourists making their way up to the 348m summit, which one stated was like being on another planet.
The ban on climbing Uluru was unanimously decided on by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta board back in 2017, but now without the allure of scaling the rock, what does it mean to tourism in the area?
Many ethical tour companies going to Uluru have a great understanding of the cultural significance of Uluru to the Angunu people and have developed incredible tours that don’t include climbing Uluru.
“I have guided since five years before the ban, and I’m proud to say I have never climbed it. The traditional owners have requested that we make the choice not to climb for many years. In fact it was many years until they were allowed to even ask, this was after the climb was supposed to be closed at handover in 1985. So [it’s been] a long time coming. Unfortunately economics and politics trump 40,000 years of meaning. I personally think that for many years, tour companies have been confusing people by spending so much time [with] each tour giving the “Please don’t climb” message as required by the National Park, and then answering the inevitable wave of questions that would follow. I think people can handle a yes rule, or a no rule, but become confused or even stressed when they are given two sides of a situation, and then asked to choose.” Satcliffe explains.
Going on to state that the discussion around how closing the climb might affect tourism to the area has been going on for a very long time, and acknowledging the fact that every milestone for closure of climbing Uluru has so far been ignored, means that some progress has now taken place.
But will the climbing ban affect people visiting Uluru?
There are still many ways to explore the rock in all its glory, and the area itself is a world of wonders. A trip to Uluru is not complete without viewing it from afar at sunrise and sunset when the rock is illuminated and bathed in intense sunlight. It’s possible to circle around Uluru in so many other ways. Harley’s, Segways, Helicopter flights, Cycling, Walking. And there are so many many more ways to otherwise experience Uluru, such as dining at dusk outdoors beside the rock. The traditional owners ask us to consider that this is a place to connect with, not a place to conquer. Mulgas expects that, by encouraging that connection with the ancient monolith, and a focus on linked cultural meaning, demand for its experience at least won’t really be affected.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Attractions
Uluru tours are also complemented by visiting other impressive sites such as Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. Mulgas Adventures operates within all the strict licensing requirements for all tour companies that operate in the National Park, and also the strict competence required of all accredited guides. This really keeps us in the sweet spot for environmental and cultural sensitivity concerns, leaving our guides to also focus on safety and fun” Satcliffe confidently states.
Cultural Significance of Uluru
Passengers also need to adhere to all National Park rules, which includes staying on designated tracks when doing the base walk. The tracks are designed to keep people safe, to give visitors close up views of key areas [such as] waterholes, waterfalls, caves etc., whilst also being designed to ensure visitors can’t see sensitive sites. The National Park changes some pathway sections as the vegetation changes. This is to manage what visitors can and can’t see and photograph. Mulgas guides are able to point out and explain signs around the base walk which ask for no photography. There are only a few sites where this is the case.
Visiting Uluru and its surrounding attractions of course does give visitors the chance to learn more about the cultural significance of the area. Around the Cultural Centre, visitors can find local arts and crafts and near the Sunset Viewing site, you’ll often find people from the Mutitjulu community selling art who are happy to interact with visitors. If you’re embarking on a tour from Alice Springs, you’ll also find plenty of chances to enjoy cultural experiences, however other aspects to enjoy on an Uluru camping tour is the sheer thrill of camping in the Outback alongside all the adventure of exploring the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and appreciated the landscape in front of you.
Uluru Base Walk
Exploring Uluru by completing a base walk has many things to offer in between the bushland and grasses, the breeze wafting through the arid heat and splendid sunshine. Whilst on a base walk you can also see:
- The occasional snake or lizard
- Waterfalls (depending on rainfall)
- The cracks, crevices, patterns and textures of the Rock
- Cave art
- The photography opportunities
- The peace and tranquility of being miles away from it all in a beautiful setting
What’s it like visiting Uluru?
So, what is the most special thing about visiting the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park?
Aside from all the incredible things to see and do during an Outback Camping tour to Uluru, it’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
Dan Satcliffe explains, “It’s not an easy thing to describe, you really do have to be there to feel the energy of the Central Desert. So isolated, you get a sense you could be stepping on ground never stepped on before. The sky is enormous, and the horizons so very very distant. The heat surrounds you, but it’s a dry friendly heat.”
Continuing, “Everything you see, do, feel, time and plan all seems to be connected to the sunlight, and I think we celebrate the sun’s part in all of this, during our tours, with our sunsets and sunrises, and our carrying water at all times! People often say it’s a spiritual feeling, and that might be true. For me it’s a clearing of the mind, gives me perspective, reminds me of what my part is in all of this, I reflect on what is important, and feel calm. The desert, particularly this area of the world, well it just makes me feel good!”
Uluru Camping Tours
Mulgas Adventures offer budget friendly camping tours departing from Alice Springs and Ayers Rock Resort & Airport running all year round. Offering both 3 & 4 day camping tours, Mulgas Outback Camping tours visit:
View more tours and book outback camping tours