In my previous post I shared my visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Central Australia. Uluru (Ayers Rock) the worlds largest monolith is the centerpiece of the park and one that many visitors wish to climb to the top of. You cannot always do the climb though as it is a sacred place to the Anangu Aboriginals of this region who own the land and lease it to the Australian government.
Sometimes the Anangu will close the rock for spiritual reasons. The path up to the top is a sacred path of spiritual significance only taken by few Aboriginal men on special occasions. Other times the weather such as high winds or extreme heat will not allow it. Either way the Anangu would culturally and for safety reasons prefer you didn’t go up there but it is allowed and that is a personal decision you have to make on the day. It is not bad luck to climb the rock. Their belief is that wisdom is gained from the rocks, trees and dirt at its base so there is no need to go up there plus there are secret traditional reasons. Some of their people want the path closed for ever.
While I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal culture I made the choice to climb to the top (due to the weather it was not until the third day of my time in the region that I was able to do this – depending on when you visit you may not be able to go up there anyway). Ever since I was a kid I remembered seeing a photo of my Granny and her sister up there in the 1970’s and it was something I had always wanted to do. I have to tell you though, you soon realise it is a lot steeper and a lot higher than it looks from ground level (Uluru stands 348 metres / 1,142 feet tall above the desert floor and is 860 metres / 2,821 feet above sea level)!
The 1.6 kilometer / 1 mile trek takes up to two hours and is not easy-going (35-40 people have died trying over the years – mostly from heart attack). You are aided somewhat at the steepest part by a chain that was installed in the 1960’s and extended in the 70’s. Even in hiking shoes I was slipping at times (it fascinated me watching people take it on wearing rubber thongs / flip-flops!). All I can say is be cautious going up there and don’t become a statistic!
The climb is well worth it. You get an amazing perspective of the rock from the top and the view just seems to go on and on across that vast red earth (be prepared for strong winds up there though). The vast “nothingness” of the Australian outback never fails to impress me.
If you do decide to take the climb to the top of Uluru, be as respectful as you can be. Admittedly you have already gone against the wishes of the Anangu but please be sure to do nothing to harm the rock in any way. Enjoy the experience and leave it exactly the way you found it.