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Tourists Trash Sacred Site of Uluru as Permanent Closure Approaches

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In the 1999 movie,  The Matrix,  Agent Smith said that when trying to classify our species it came to him we are “A virus, a disease, a cancer of this planet, a plague” eating up all the natural resources, and you need look no further than what’s happening at  Uluru, or Ayers Rock in Australia right now to consider this a very valid social observation.

Thousands of tourists on self-driving trips are climbing  Australia’s sacred Uluru before the site is finally closed to the public on October 26, and the sooner the better, for these last walkers are throwing rubbish at their backs, pouring harmful chemicals in organic fields and defecating on the top of the sacred indigenous site.

Uluru is a sacred rise in the indigenous Australian landscape which began forming about 550 million years ago and while climbing to its summit has always been discouraged by the park’s owners, the aboriginal Anangu people, the sacred center now features an unsightly white scar from the hundreds of tourists trudging the same path, every day.

Stephen Schwer, chief executive of Tourism Central Australia, told the ABC “with camping venues at capacity, tourists were veering off-track, with potentially long-lasting damage” and in an article on  SMH he is quoted saying “We are seeing increases in rubbish and illegal roadside camping and generally the kind of behavior which degrades the environment.”

With only a few months left before the sacred site is closed, last minute visitors are failing to book in advance and when getting there and realizing no camping sites are available they pull up on road side or drive off-road across private property to camp.

Uluru is being inundated with visitors before it is closed to the public in October. ( Laure /Adobe Stock)

Exceptionally Reasonable Tourist Officials

Where many tourist officials would be outraged and openly blaming the tourists for everything, Mr Schwer did quite the opposite by explaining that at least some of the confusion was that “a lot of private land in the  Northern Territory , often spanning a million acres or more,” are not marked by fences.” But just because there are no fences these driving tourists might be on managed  Aboriginal land or national park.

In a  News.Com.Au article Mr Schwer appeals for visitors to plan in advance before making the journey and to book a campsite, and he petitions visitors “not to climb Uluru” for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s really dangerous, but not only for humans, but Mr Schwer says scientists have observed a recent “decline in the number of plants and animal species at the base of the rock”. What might be the absolute worst aspect of this whole affair is that there are no toilets on the rock, causing a mess which needs no further illustration.

Some visitors to the sacred Uluru seem to have no respect for it or it’s environment. (CC BY 2.0)

Some visitors to the sacred Uluru seem to have no respect for it or it’s environment. ( CC BY 2.0 )

It’s A Respect Thing

Parks Australia, which manages the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks and Mr Schwer says tourists have to start respecting the wishes of the Aboriginal Anangu people who own the land and their wish is for people not to climb the rock which is located in a sacred area. Regardless, thousands of people are heading there now to climb Uluru before the October closure, a problem being compounded by the winter school holidays and new direct flights to Ayers Rock Airport.

Lyndee Severin, manager of the Curtin Springs inn and campground about 100 kilometers from Uluru, told  News.Com.Au that “Campers with portable chemical toilets were simply emptying them along the road instead of going to the specialized dump sites available as they are required to do.” She added, ”what we're finding is there are a lot of campers who don't want to stand in line to dump their toilets and so just dump it along the road somewhere” and if this is on organic cattle farms it might threaten the farm's organic accreditation.

Who On Earth Does This To A Sacred Environment?

In an article in  Psychology Today , Dr Rob Wallace, a representative of the anti-litter non-profit  Keep America Beautiful   said “research on reasons for littering is ongoing but not yet conclusive” but he theorized that some people litter because they feel “disenfranchised from society, that they feel powerless.” In some sense, therefore, littering serves much the same purpose as graffiti, a sort of “I was here”.

Dr Wallace also theorized that people might litter because “they've come to believe that whatever they do, others will pick up after them”, just a sad sense of no responsibility. This thought is supported in the article by a veteran California highway patrolman who said in his twenty years-plus of pulling drivers for littering out their car windows “not once had an offender ever apologized once caught, they shrugged off the act as insignificant.”

With social psychologists still a long way from solving the problem of how to stop modern society being pigs, isn’t it imperative, for wildlife and the environment’s sake, that we stop producing materials that are essentially ‘non-biodegradable’ now, much of which take hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to break down?

Top image: Uluru, Australia is being damaged as 1000s flock to climb it before its closure.    Source: ronnybas / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

Comments

Any country that bans climbing a NATURAL rock formation is out of their minds and totalitarian. It is just fine for Australian Aborigines who believe in the certain religious tradition involving said rock not to climb it themselves and exert religious punishment for those in their own community for doing so though they are not supposed to do so. Same goes for Christians, Muslims, Hindu,… within their own religious rules. However, it is absolutely unacceptable for a Government who claims to be religion-agnostic to ban people who do NOT believe in local traditions&religion to conform to them! Government of the FREE people should do no such thing. As for respect, it should be a personal choice-some of non-believers may see it as sign of respect not to climb it, some may feel MORE respect given by climbing it. It s a natural rock after all. It is NOT supernatural as far as rational thought and science go. Shame on Astuailan Totaliatrain Theocracy.

As for nonsense of “damage to the rock” – many climb El Capitan or Mount Everest armed with powerfull tools, drilling, hammering, … yet no such “damage” that would reqire closing access. “Damage” is excuse for instilling other people religious practices on unwilling. 

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