Starting in 2019, tourists will no longer be permitted to climb Australia’s Uluru, a massive sandstone rock with deep religious meaning to the Aboriginal peoples of the region.
While climbing the rock has been discouraged for decades, hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive every year and many scale the 1,142-foot-high formation. Located nearly in the geographic center of Australia, Uluru has a special appeal to amateur rock climbers due to its unique color and lonely position in Northern Territory flatlands. 36 people have died scaling Uluru since 1958 and many more have required rescuing.
Uluru, also known as “Ayer’s Rock”, holds a special place in the hearts of native Aboriginals. It is home to a series of ancient drawings and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Out of concern for the physical erosion and the cultural disrespect the monument has suffered over the years, Uluru’s community owners have decided to begin enforcing the request that visitors not climb the rock.
Sammy Wilson, chairman of the board that owns the rock, called Uluru a “sacred” and “extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland.”
The climbing ban will go into effect on October 26th, 2019, which marks the 34th anniversary since Uluru was placed back in the hands of the traditional owners.