Uluru: to climb or not to climb? Should this ever have been an option?

Uluru – a monumental sandstone monolith – is the most majestic and magical natural wonder on the planet.

I was fortunate to visit this iconic site in 2003 travelling through Australia’s Red Centre from Alice Springs. The weather was hot, the air dry and dusty. Finding some shade was the only comfortable option. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and as the sun lowered the rock lost its sharp contrasts and assumed its deep mahogany hue.

Seen from a distance it appears benign, a sleeping giant. Up close it looms defiantly, never threatening, but always with the confidence of a god. No wonder it is sacred to the indigenous peoples.

Within this mysterious natural phenomenon stories are carved as if erosion has played its part as myth maker, and proclaims Uluru as a power in the landscape.

Walking around its base is the only way to experience the rock formations and natural pools that simply take you unaware.

One of the most specials moments is encountering a cave and natural pigment drawings on the underside of a wave formation.

Sixteen years ago did I climb? No. Did I contemplate it? No.
Just being there was enough and I could definitely appreciate why the Anangu people did not want its sacred site trampled by visitors.

For those who have no interest in matters spiritual – and I’m not going to question that stance – it is dangerous to climb. People have died. Surely that’s reason enough not to?
But with the ban on climbing Uluru coming into force in two days there’s a frenzy to climb and a constant stream of people queueing to ‘do it while I can’, or ‘check it off the bucket list before it’s too late’.

Apparently it is amazing at the top. But Uluru rises out of a huge flat expanse of not very much. The real beauty, magnificence, and scale of it can only be seen from the distance and at its base as you wander and explore. That is truly amazing.

This is an opinion piece, nothing more nor less, with my reaction to the news headlines today. It is not meant to be a prescription for others.