This Shit Cannot End Soon Enough

There’s a little over two-and-a-half weeks until climbing Uluru is finally, perhaps mercifully, banned once and for all. The practice will end on October 26th – a date chosen deliberately to coincide with the anniversary of Uluru’s handback to its traditional owners. With school holidays and the long weekend currently going on, the sacred site has seen a gargantuan swell in numbers of goons trying to scramble up the site before they can’t anymore.

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Over the weekend, The Australian dedicated its front page to a fairly remarkable image: Uluru, practically choked with tourists, snaking their way up the walking path in scenes vaguely reminiscent of the human traffic jams on Everest. Bafflingly enough, the paper referred to the crowds as “pilgrims,” as if they had some sort of inalienable, God-given right to be there.

The subsequent article – an even-handed depiction of the utter chaos currently befalling the site, despite the fucking ridiculous headline The Australian bosses subsequently slapped on it – describes how on at least two occasions over the past week, crowds attempting to climb Uluru have exceeded 1,000 in number. One man, a retiree from Newcastle, doggedly stated “I’m not leaving until I climb it.”

There’s a handful of common attitudes among those who are determined to get to the top before October 26th: Wilful obliviousness, egregious nose-thumbing, and caustic parroting of justifications issued by those who do know better, but couldn’t give a shit.

The backlash to the photo and the front page on social media has been swift, loud, and unanimous.

It’s a pretty simple equation, really: The Anangu people have, for decades, respectfully urged tourists to consider not climbing Uluru. They believe strongly that if lines of tourists 1,000 deep had been foreseen, previous elders would’ve never agreed to allow climbing in the first place.

The site does hold significant cultural worth for its traditional owners, but beyond that they feel a massive responsibility for the people who cross into their land. More specifically, the Anangu people feel intense sorrow and grief for those who pass away while on their land, which includes while climbing Uluru. Since climbing began only a handful of decades ago, at least 35 tourists have died on Uluru. Therefore, the climb is ceasing.

October 26th is the final stage of a slow phasing out. It’s not a fucking deadline.