Uluru, an immense monolith sacred to the Anangu Aboriginal people in Australia’s Northern Territory, has seen its fair share of controversy over the years.
It took several years for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s management board to ban people from climbing the spiritually significant and monumental geological formation that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s been prohibited to climb Uluru since October 2019.
But these days, the traditional owners of Uluru have another tourism-related worry in mind. They want to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in their already vulnerable community and, to do so, have been blocking the park’s entrance from visitors.
On Monday, between 30 and 40 protesters stood on the main entrance road to the park, blocking tourists from entering. They were there again on Tuesday.
Thalia Bohl-Van Den Boogaard, who represents a group of Indigenous Australians protesting the visitors, told Reuters, “It’s up to tourists to stay away if they come from hotspots or are sick. People here have been locked in their communities for months and months to contain the spread, and now it’s not up to them to do the right thing.”
To address the issue and curb any potential spread, Parks Australia decided to close the park entirely. It will remain closed while discussions are held with Indigenous groups and Northern Territory officials, and measures are implemented to increase screening and testing in the area.