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The Ban on Climbing Ayers Rock is Immoral and Illegal

The Ban on Climbing Ayers Rock is Immoral and IllegalQuadrant Magazine have placed my recent article online outlining reasons the ban on climbing Ayers Rock is immoral and illegal.

Claims that Aborigines never ascend the monolith are false and the highly sacred nature of the route a recent invention. The cultural-heritage significance of the climb to both Anangu and millions of non-Aboriginal visitors is something that should be celebrated and maintained, not discouraged and condemned.

Read the Article at Quadrant.
“In the realm of ideas there has been no better publication in Australia over the last fifty years than Quadrant magazine.”
— Former Prime Minister John Howard
Recent posts

Climbing Legends #10 - An Australian youth among desert Aborigines

Climbing legends
Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.
#10 Lauri Sheard: An Australian youth among desert Aborigines

Lauri E Sheard 1922-1942
Lauri Sheard was the son of Mountford's friend Harold Sheard, and was aged 18 when he accompanied Mountford on this Expedition in 1940. During the trip Lauri Sheard recorded his experiences in a diary, later published as An Australian youth among desert Aborigines, and took almost 1000 photographs of his own.

Lauri's account of his climb from his diary reprinted below:
Wednesday August 7, 1940 We packed our gear and lunch on the camels and set off once around the eastern end of the rock.  Proceeding to the climbing slope, this time the position reversed, I went up and Mountford stayed below taking photographs, , using the colour cine camera.  The climb was not terrifically steep, but it was jolly hard work, as for a part of the way we went on hands and knees, but once over the steeper pitches and with practice it was not hard …

And the next Director of National Parks is...?

Parks Australia recently advertised for a new Director to replace Sally Barnes. In one of the infinite possible alternate universes (if they exist) I was awarded the job, but in this one it's going to someone else. In that alternate reality the climb has been secured for future generations for all time. In this reality, like Schrodinger's cat, the climb remains in a state of limbo until B-Day 26 October 2019.

Dear Marc
Thank you for expressing interest in the role of Director of National Parks.
We have now worked with our client to determine the shortlist of candidates for interview for this role, and unfortunately, on this occasion, there were other candidates who had experience which was a closer fit for the requirements of the role.  We will therefore not be progressing your application.
I would like to thank you for your application and for your interest – we do appreciate that preparing an application takes considerable time and thought.
The strength of my candidature was…

Did the Aboriginal People ever talk to you about regulating or closing the climb? NO.

Q. Did the Aboriginal people ever talk to you about either regulating the use of, or even closing the climb?
A. NO.
In 1997 Derek Roff, former Head Ranger of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park from 1968 to 1985, recorded a detailed (7.5 hr) interview with the Northern Territory Archives Oral History Unit. Topics covered Derek's time as a policeman in Kenya, emigration to Australia in the mid 1960s, and his experience and insights as Chief Ranger of the Park. The interview provides a fascinating insight into the development of the Park from 1968 through to the 1985 handover and beyond. Roff explodes many myths including the "We never climb" message and problems with photography.

Derek was asked a number of questions about Aboriginal attitudes to the climb while he served as head Ranger for 17 years. His response indicates that the climb held no concerns to senior Aboriginal Elders, leaving one wondering what caused the "unchanging" Tjukurpa to alter so significan…

Climbing Tales #6 Minga Comedian

Climbing Tales 
This series celebrates Uluru climbing experiences posted online.

#6 Minga Comedian Base of the Climb
A wonderful Climbing Tale from Fred Reiss, Californian stand up comedian. Fred Climbed in 2015 following treatment for cancer. This is another inspiring story that the ignoramuses that sit on the Park Board and Parks Australia, happy to keep them in their cultural dungeon, want to prevent. 
A brief extract below, for the full story follow the links to Fred's Blog.
Why I believe you should climb Uluru and why I climbed it!It was intimidating to be a weathered and coarse-grained, testicle-stripped 59-year old man standing within the end and beginning of my dream track at the foot of The Climb. Dreamtime is where you develop a worldly knowledge accumulated through ancestors—well, there’s no hare wallaby man in my family’s ancestral history. But, now that I think of it, my ex-brother-in-law might have been one.  And songline is dreaming a path which mark the route followed …

Pictorial history of warning signs at the base of the climb at Ayers Rock

Pictorial history of warning signs at the base of the climb
Evolution of warning signs at the base of Ayers Rock from 1969 to present through photos. Initial signs focused purely on safety issues, but with the transfer of the Parks's management to Federal agencies in 1985 signage has become increasingly hysterical in pushing the "Don't Climb" message, ignoring the reality about the actual risks to fit, healthy responsible people, and disrespecting the views of previous Owners of the rock like Paddy Uluru and Anangu climbing guide Tiger Tjalkalyirri 
Signage in 1969 comprised the simple and effective message that people climbing are responsible for their own safety.

Images from the National Mapping Program Video Tellurometer connection from Ayers rock, NT
Sign reads:
The public is hereby notified that the climbing of this rock is a difficult and dangerous feat and that this board accepts no responsibility for injury or loss of life to persons engaged in clim…

The Australian Geologist Climb for science

My article from the March 2018 issue of the Geological Society of Australia's newsletter "The Australian Geologist" (TAG) appears below. Open in new tab, or download to read.

To Ayers Rock and Beyond: Wow! Wow!

Bill Harney  Bill Harney was the first ranger appointed to the newly formed Ayers Rock - Mt Olga National Park that was declared in 1958. Read the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry to get an insight into his remarkable life. Some of his thoughts and stories from his time at Ayers Rock captured in the tome: "To Ayers Rock and Beyond".  One of my favourite pieces from Page 103 (1974 ed) As we climbed the tourists were making the pilgrimage, their rubber soled boots shuffled out a rhythm: Old Folk, young Folk, tottery folk, and sprightly ones, 
Climbing up the Rock towards the cairn, Wow! Wow!
Some pulled, some pushed, creaky legs and pumping hearts, 
We're going to reach the top, we've made a vow. Wow! Wow!

Mt Warning summit Track - spot the difference

We've suggested some changes to the introductory text for the Mt Warning Summit Walk.