Uluru visited by Pauline Hanson as climb close looms

The red centre is flooding with more and more tourists making the pilgrimage to scale the majestic and deeply spiritual site, Uluru, before it’s official close in October.

The most recent visitor, controversial One Nation politician Pauline Hanson, attempted to scale the sacred site this week as part of her campaign to keep the climb open.

Ms Hanson stated on social media that she was granted permission by Traditional Owners and Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders members Reggie Uluru and Cassidy Uluru.

Steadfast in her views, Ms Hanson’s position on the ban remains the same.

However, she did have difficultly climbing Uluru and so has turned her attention to advocating for a safer ascent.

“I’m surprised the Territory and Federal Governments have allowed the climb to remain as unsafe as it is for this long,” Ms Hanson wrote in a media address.

Conversations between Ms Hanson and the Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders also addressed the impact of closure on Anangu jobs.

“If tourist numbers drop off following the climb closure, I hold grave concerns for Aboriginal jobs,” Ms Hanson said.

However, less than 20 percent of visitors to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park actually embark on the climb.

The historic decision to close the climb was made unanimously in November 2017 by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s Management Board.

Uluru Traditional Owner and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board Chair, Sammy Wilson said it was time for the decision to be made.

“We’ve talked about it for so long and now we’re able to close the climb. It’s about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu,” Mr Wilson said.

“This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu … to feel proud about; to realise, of course it’s the right thing to close it.”

“If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. It is the same here for Anangu. We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity.”

Although the climb is closing, Mr Wilson believes it won’t slow tourism opportunities – rather provide partnerships with Traditional Owners, based on true cultural experiences for visitors.

Director of National Parks and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board member, Sally Barnes said the date of closing is extremely significant to the Anangu people.

“On 26 October 1985 Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to Anangu after many years of hard work by Elders,” Ms Barnes said.

Ms Barnes shares the view that closing the climb will not affect the flow of tourism to the park.

“To come and learn from Anangu about their culture is one of the most memorable experiences for many of our visitors,” Ms Barnes said.

Regardless of public debate, the climb will close in less than two months and so will begin a new era for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Anangu people.

“We’re looking forward to a future where we can all work together to protect culture and country as we should do, while continuing to provide visitors with fulfilling experiences based on the parks unique cultural and natural attractions,” Ms Barnes said.

“This is a significant moment for all Australians and marks a new chapter in our history. It clearly says we put country and culture first when managing this place for all Australians and our visitors from around the world.”

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