The next Uluru: Fears iconic Mount Warning could be shut to climbers

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An iconic mountain could be the next Australian landmark banned to hikers for good after it was named as an Aboriginal sacred place.

Mt Warning, on the Tweed Valley coast in northern New South Wales, was closed to tourists in March this year as a precaution against crowds spreading Covid-19.

The popular scenic destination, traditionally known as Wollumbin, was scheduled to allow to sightseers back in May 2021, however, the re-opening is will now be reviewed, according to The Courier Mail. 

Mt Warning (pictured), on the Tweed Valley coast in northern New South Wales, was closed to tourists in March this year as a precaution against crowds spreading COVID-19 

The view from the summit of Mt Warning (pictured) which has become a popular tourist destination as it gets the first rays of sunlight to hit Australia

The view from the summit of Mt Warning (pictured) which has become a popular tourist destination as it gets the first rays of sunlight to hit Australia

The view from the summit of Mt Warning (pictured) which has become a popular tourist destination as it gets the first rays of sunlight to hit Australia 

Tourists were banned from climbing Uluru (pictured) in central Australia in 2019 out of respect for traditional owners

Tourists were banned from climbing Uluru (pictured) in central Australia in 2019 out of respect for traditional owners

Tourists were banned from climbing Uluru (pictured) in central Australia in 2019 out of respect for traditional owners 

Thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru (pictured) to climb the mountain before it was closed to the public, though tourists can  continue to walk around the base

Thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru (pictured) to climb the mountain before it was closed to the public, though tourists can  continue to walk around the base

Thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru (pictured) to climb the mountain before it was closed to the public, though tourists can  continue to walk around the base 

Since the last tourists ascended Uluru in 2019, debate has arisen around whether climbers should be allowed on other natural landmarks such as Wollumbin and the nearby Mt Beerwah on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. 

The National Parks and Wildlife Service said the delay to re-opening Wollumbin was to assess safety issues around landslides and the chain section of the hike, but also said they would be holding discussions with Indigenous groups. 

‘NPWS will now consider the future of the summit track, in consultation with key community and tourism stakeholders, including local Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders,’ a spokesperson said.

A hiker (pictured) enjoys the early morning view from the summit of Mt Warning on Australia's east coast

A hiker (pictured) enjoys the early morning view from the summit of Mt Warning on Australia's east coast

A hiker (pictured) enjoys the early morning view from the summit of Mt Warning on Australia’s east coast 

One of the last climbers on Uluru, who was accompanied by his teenage sons, looks out over the view part way down the descent

One of the last climbers on Uluru, who was accompanied by his teenage sons, looks out over the view part way down the descent

One of the last climbers on Uluru, who was accompanied by his teenage sons, looks out over the view part way down the descent

WHY DID ABORIGINAL ELDERS ASK FOR A BAN ON CLIMBING ULURU? 

It was announced in November 2017 that climbing Uluru, considered a sacred site by the local Anangu people, would be banned from October 26, 2019.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s board of management, made up of a majority of Aboriginal traditional owners, unanimously decided to close the climb.

Traditional owner and board chairman Sammy Wilson said on behalf of the Anangu people it was time to do so.

‘We’ve talked about it for so long and now we’re able to close the climb,’ Mr Wilson said. ‘It’s about protection through combining two systems, the government and Anangu.

‘This decision is for both Anangu and non-Anangu together to feel proud about; to realise, of course it’s the right thing to close it.

‘The land has law and culture. We welcome tourists here. Closing the climb is not something to feel upset about but a cause for celebration. Let’s come together, let’s close it together.

‘If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. It is the same here for Anangu. We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity.’ 

‘The closure will be reviewed in May 2021. NPWS understands that locals and visitors may be disappointed by the extended closure however our main priority is to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.’ 

There have been dozens of safety incidents in recent years on the mountain, including two that were deadly. 

The Australian National Parks website already requests that hikers do not climb the summit of Wollumbin out of respect for traditional owners, the Bundjalung people, who view the site as sacred. 

The precedent of Uluru, however, could mean authorities may enforce an even stricter ban on climbing the Wollumbin – which is famous for experiencing the first rays of sun in Australia each morning on the peak’s summit. 

For this reason the attraction is especially popular on New Year’s Day and has sprouted a bustling mini-tourism industry in the Tweed Valley area. 

British explorer James Cook viewed the mountain from the sea while sailing along Australia’s east coast and gave peak the name as it signaled where there were outlying reefs to avoid. 

The summit of the volcanic remnant is declared an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act – with traditional stories referencing the peak as the ‘Mountain of the Warrior Chief’ and the ‘cloud catcher’ among others names. 

On 26 October 1985, Australia’s most famous mountina Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta – formerly known as the Olgas – were handed back to the Anangu people. 

In October 2019 thousands of tourists flocked to Uluru to climb the monolith before a ban on climbing was introduced on October 25. 

‘We knew we would never be there to soak up the view and experience the atmosphere ever again – no one would,’ one of the last climbers told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Many people from all walks of life, some as young as seven, made the pilgrimage up that steep slope knowing it was our last chance, rightly or wrongly, to do so.’ 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council for comment. 

Rangers link arms and pose for a photo in the last hours of the climb being open, in between searching the rock for rubbish and lost climbers on Uluru

Rangers link arms and pose for a photo in the last hours of the climb being open, in between searching the rock for rubbish and lost climbers on Uluru

Rangers link arms and pose for a photo in the last hours of the climb being open, in between searching the rock for rubbish and lost climbers on Uluru

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