I was heartbroken to discover that no one will be allowed to climb Uluru, the rock formerly known as Ayers, after October, 2019. There’s no way I’ll make it to Australia by that deadline. (I doubt I’ll ever get there, if I’m honest, but it’s a nice dream.)
I’ve known several people who have climbed Uluru. And yes, I know it’s a sacred place for the aboriginal people of the area, but I had been led to believe that the sacred parts of it were off limits, and therefore I did not feel any remorse about having that climb on my bucket list, because I would naturally respect/avoid those areas.
Wow, was I misinformed. According to this article, the climb goes right through a section of the rock that is traditionally reserved for indigenous men only. As such, there have been signs at the start of the climb, placed there by the Anangu people, asking people to respect their culture and not make the climb at all. Everyone who has climbed that rock since 1985 has had to walk right past those signs, and trample right over these people’s wishes, to do so. Horrifying.
Not only that, but the chain and the path have worn a permanent scar on the rock over the decades. And there are no bathroom or garbage facilities up there, so you can just imagine the human impact. All that bio-waste has washed down the rock during the rain, and it has contaminated the waterholes in the area with bacterial runoff.
So, having said all that, why would I still have Uluru on my bucket list? First of all, the most beautiful view in that area is of Uluru itself, which is the one thing you cannot see when you are standing on top of it. I hope to someday look at it from a respectful distance.
And there are a lot of other experiences you can have while there. There are scenic walks, and cultural learning experiences. There is currently an art installation called the Field of Light which will be there until December, 2020, and it looks gorgeous. You can take guided tours, hear stories, visit museums, learn about food in the bush, and create art. You can ride a camel, and learn about the reptiles in the area.
All this sounds like great fun, and still very much bucket-list-worthy to me. I believe in supporting local economies and respecting local cultures. So even if I could get to Uluru before the end of October, now that I’ve been educated, I wouldn’t make that climb. It would be enough for me to just be there.