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Climbing Legends #6 Arthur Groom

Climbing legends
Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.
#6 Arthur Groom the walker
Arthur Groome aged about 30. Photo Credit. Arthur Groome was a bushwalker, conservationist, photographer and nature writer. He was a founder of the National Parks Association of Queensland. He was known for his almost legendary ability to walk long distances, and his sense of humour. He had intended to walk the 550km from Tempe Downs to Ayers Rock and back alone but in the end was accompanied by Tiger Tjalkalyirri and two other Aboriginal guides for much of the journey.
Groome left Tempe Downs for Ayers Rock and the Olgas on 25 August 1947. The route was via Levi Range, Kings Canyon and the eastern end of Lake Amadeus. His party climbed the Rock on 4 September. He returned to Henbury Station via Mt Conner, Angus Downs and Mr Ormerod.
These are his notes on the Climb, fromI saw a strange land
Various writers have described Ayers Rock as difficult of ascent, when in reality it is a trained mountai…
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The Climb

The Climb
From NT Government Tourist Brochure, circa 1983.
Photo likely taken by Derek Roff, Chief Ranger between 1968 and 1985 Text reads:
Sheer rock looms before you, stretching 348 metres up. It seems like madness to try to climb it. But for many people the climb to the top of Ayers Rock is one of the greatest challenges of the Australian outback. About 50 000 people a year climb the Rock. But you have to be fit. It's steep, sometimes slippery and it's deceiving. You seem to climb forever. Each skyline appears to be the last but in fact, you cannot see the summit until you are 100 metres away. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the top. But when you get there the spectacular view makes it all worthwhile. After proudly signing the achievers' book, all you have to do is get down. Don't be mistaken. The climb down is just as difficult as the climb to the top. 

Climbing Legends #5 Beryl Miles

Climbing legends
Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.
#5 Beryl Miles 2nd woman to climb 
Beryl Miles on the Rock, from page 36 of The Stars My Blanket We included Beryl Miles in our first Climbing Legends Story. At the time we understood that Beryl was the first woman to record her name in the glass jar in the summit cairn, but it turns out Isabella Foy deserves that honour, having done so without any fanfare on the 28th of May 1936.  Having recently obtained a copy of Beryl's book "The Stars My Blanket" (our copy even signed by the author) we felt Beryl deserved a separate listing on the climber's wall of fame. Beryl mentions few dates, so the best we can make it, she climbed in winter of 1951 (update if we can). Our copy, signed by the author Here's Beryl's account of her climb (p69-72): At about 10:30 next morning, wearing sandshoes, we set off on foot round the north-west face, complete with cameras and water-bottles.
This corner is the only real…

Climbing Legends #4 Breaden and Oliver 2nd to climb, first traverse

Climbing legends
Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.
#4 Allan David Breaden and W Oliver 2nd to climb
Allan Breaden at Hernbury Station, approx. 1930. Photo Credit. Allan Breaden and W Oliver climbed the rock in 1897 as part of a prospecting party. Here's Breaden's Journal entry for March 4 1897
Breaden's journal available Mitchell Library.
Breaden is reported as likely the first, along with Oliver (Coulthard??) to undertake an west to east traverse of the rock.
"Anent Ayers Rock, again in the recent news. Mr. McKenzie told me that he knew two bushmen, Bob Coulthard* and Alan Breaden, who scaled up the western side and left their names there in a baking powder tin, and then carefully tobogganing down the east side." *This is the only mention of Bob Coulthard climbing. Perhaps McKenzie means Oliver?
Further details about Breaden in this bio from The Mail 1936.
"STOLEN by the blacks when he was two years old at Booboorowie Station, South Australia, w…

From the vault: climb the bloody thing

Monty Dwyer's piece "Let's not rock"  from the online journal Travel Consumer Daily August 7, 2009. Makes for an interesting read given recent developments. Follow the links to the original PDF.

Indeed many I’ve spoken to aren’t precious about the issue at all; they do think we’re mad for climbing, but only because ‘’there’s nothing up there’, not because it offends their spiritual sensibilities.
Let's not rock. Travel Consumer Daily August 7, 2009. From Internet Archive.
We wholeheartedly endorse Monty's closing words: So get out there and climb
the bloody thing, I say!

Mt Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) Walk

Here's a hike that you still can do and it does not look like it's under threat of being banned.

Mt Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) Walk
Gulaga and the surrounding landscape are important for Aboriginal people and especially significant to the Yuin women of the South Coast of NSW. An extinct volcano rising 806 metres above sea level, the steep track up the mountain was built in 1894 for gold miners. Take the gravel path from Pam's Store in Tilba Tilba and continue up the mountain.

At 'Halfway Rock' the Battery Trail leads 1.6km off the main track around the side of the ridge to the foundations of the mine manager's residence. Return to the main track and 30 minutes later you should reach 'The Saddle' - a great rest spot. Push on to the summit with its spectacular views to the coast, along the way enjoying a magical rainforest and variety of birdlife.

Length: 14km return
Time: 5 hours return
Grade: Hard
Access: 20km south of Narooma on the Princes Highway, turn righ…

A pictorial response to arguments against climbing Ayers Rock

A pictorial response to arguments against climbing Ayers RockIt's too dangerous Group of women aged 19-70 climb Ayers Rock as part of the 1957 Petticoat Safari. This was prior to the chains being installed. Since the 1950s over 6,000,000 people of all ages have climbed the rock. In that time there have been a reported 36 deaths mainly heart attacks to older men, not acclimatised to the heat of central Australia. If you are fit and healthy and stick to the marked path climbing Ayers Rock is an exhilarating adventure but a decidedly low risk activity.

Here's Arthur Groom's take on the climbing options: extract from I saw a strange land
Various writers have described Ayers Rock as difficult of ascent, when in reality it is a trained mountaineer's job on the east-south-east corner, a rough and steep scramble up at least two places on its southern side, and nothing else but a strenuous and spectacular uphill walk on its western side It’s a Sacred Site, climbing is disrespect…

Climbing legends #3 Tiger Tjalkalyirri

Climbing legends #3
Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.

#3 Tiger Tjalkalyirri Early guide, a keeper of the rock

The Cairn at the top of Uluru: Tiger Tjalkalyirristanding and Tamalji seated.  Taken by Arthur Groom, 1947
Tiger Tjalkalyirri acted as an early guide and climbing partner to early visitors to Ayers Rock. His name appears twice on the early climbing log. He assisted Cliff Thomson in 1946 and Arthur Groom in 1947. Arthur Groom makes a record of his 1947 climb with Tiger and assistant Tamalji in his book I saw a strange land. It seems Tiger had no qualms climbing the rock or guiding tourists to the summit.
Tiger Tjalkalyirr: an absolute LEGEND!
extract from I saw a strange land Various writers have described Ayers Rock as difficult of ascent, when in reality it is a trained mountaineer's job on the east-south-east corner, a rough and steep scramble up at least two places on its southern side, and nothing else but a strenuous and spectacular uphill walk on its wes…

History of the Ayers Rock Summit Marker: a pictorial record.

History of the Ayers Rock Summit Marker: a pictorial record.
Summit marker with Bronze directional plaque, circa 1970? (photo credit)
The stone pedestal that marks the summit of Ayers Rock at 865m[1], with its distinctive bronze directional plaque features in many visitor photos. For most visitors it marks the end of the climb and start of the return trip. The pedestal originally housed a log book where visitors once recorded their names and thoughts. Unfortunately this logbook has been removed by Parks Australia whose on going mission has been to discourage climbing as much as possible, contrary to the concept of what National Parks are about and the wishes of many tourists. The current poor condition of the bronze plaque with missing map of Australia and missing coat of arms (see below), is testament to Parks Australia’s neglect of this important historical, cultural and scientific artefact. We hope that the plaque may be restored to its original glory so that future climbers; those…

Restore the Ayers Rock Summit Plaque

Restore the Ayers Rock Summit Plaque
Copy of letter sent to Director National Parks 7 January 2018

Cc Minister of Environment, Minister for Tourism, Director Geoscience Australia, The Australian, Daily Telegraph, NT News
Condition of Bronze Directional Plaque at summit of Ayers Rock
Dear Director, It has come to my attention that Parks Australia has allowed the Bronze Directional Plaque at summit of Ayers Rock to fall into disrepair. The plaque is missing the Map of Australia and Australian coat of arms that featured on the plaque when it was installed in 1970. It seems the map was missing by 1984, and the coat of arms went missing in the early 2000s (See image above). The plaque represents an important scientific and historical feature of significant Australian heritage value. It is a testament of Parks Australia neglect of this object that is has done nothing to ensure the condition of the plaque is maintained in original condition. What is Parks Australia doing to restore this impor…