The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board has unanimously voted to close the giant monolith to climbers due to the spiritual significance to the site. As the rightful owners of Uluru, the Anangu people had to wait until 1979 before they were recognized as the traditional owners, even though they had lived there for over 40,000 years.
The world is an amazing place with many natural habitats to explore and one of the greatest activities to do while on holiday is to head to the local attractions and see some of the world’s most impressive sights. However by doing so we are not only killing these areas but we are also trespassing on some sacred sites. Often, people are simply not aware of this and would be much more respectful if they were aware of the history and rightful ownership. 1985 saw the freehold title deeds for the area handed back but it took until 2001 for there to be an official Anangu ranger on the site.
But why is Uluru seen as such a sacred site?
The Anangu believe the world was unformed and featureless in the beginning with ancestral beings emerging from this void. These beings chose to create all living forms and species as they travelled the land, with Uluru being just one of the resulting physical evidence. However the Anangu are aware of the wonder of Uluru and can understand why people want to come and visit the area, they just do not want people to climb the rock.
Even with signs in six languages dotted around the area climbers have still headed up Uluru, a sign of disrespect not only to Uluru but to the Anangu people too.
Despite the board voting to close the site in 2017, they decided to allow a two year period in which climbers could complete their goal, to tick ‘climb the rock’ off their bucket list. This ban has been a long time coming and has prompted calls of bans in other parts of the country too, including from the Jinibara people regarding the Sunshine Coast Mountains in Queensland. So if tourists are no longer allowed to climb certain attractions – they can still go and look at the inspiring monolith – where can they go? Travel experts at www.tripgeek.com have revealed some alternative natural attractions across the world’s ‘largest island and smallest continent’.
Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
For many years there have been calls for tourists to stop visiting the Great Barrier Reef due to the fact it is dying. Although climate change has been sited for 89% of the issues, tourism has also been blamed. However head to the other side of this great country and you can find the gorgeous Ningaloo Reef, located just 1200kms north of Perth. Here you have the opportunity to swim with gentle whale sharks or humpback whales, view the reef from above in a microlight or go snorkelling in Turquoise Bay. Not only is this area in many ways more beautiful than the Great Barrier Reef, it is also less busy meaning you can have a better experience.
Also in Western Australia, The Pinnacles are a good alternative to Uluru. These natural limestone structures are a short drive away from the ocean and is the Coral Coast’s biggest natural attraction – although Mount Augustus is also a must see as it is the biggest rock (monocline) on earth! For a slightly quirkier trip head over to Wave Rock in the Hyden Wildlife Park where you can also find The Humps and The Hippo’s Yawn.
The Three Sisters
With the call to close the Sunshine Coast Mountains you could always head south to The Blue Mountains and visit the Three Sisters in Katoomba. According to Aboriginal legend these unusual rock formations represent three sisters who were turned to stone. And thanks to the different seasons, and even the different lights of the day, the views can vary dramatically.
When visiting the centre of Australia and wondering at the enormity of Uluru why not head south to Coober Pedy and visit the town that is essentially underground. Due to the immense heat around 50% of the 2,500 population live underground in ‘dugouts’ and you can find many hotels and restaurants underground too.
Margaret River Caves
If being underground appeals to you then head to Western Australia and visit the caves in Margaret River. The four caves – Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave, Jewel Cave and Ngilgi Cave – are open for the public but are preserved thanks to the walkways and ban on removing anything natural from them. You can also head further south and see where the ‘two oceans meet’ at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. A popular spot for tourists wishing to see the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.
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