The red heart of Australia will stand as a monument to admire rather than conquer. A unanimous vote to ban the climbing of the sacred site was passed by the management board of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park yesterday and will come into effect on October 26, 2019.

The sandstone monolith and UNESCO World Heritage site is sacred to the local Pitjantjatjara Anangu people. Signs requesting tourists to reconsider climbing the site have been stationed at the base of Uluru for more than 15 years but that hasn’t stopped many tourists making the 348-metre ascent.

The 600-million-year-old rock was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985 and campaigners have been steadily pushing for a total ban of visitors climbing the icon.

The board’s chair and senior traditional owner Sammy Wilson stressed that visiting and admiring Uluru from the ground was still welcome.

“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,” Wilson said in a speech to the board before the decision was announced.

Anangu – a term that encompasses members of several tribes of the Indigenous people of central Australia – as well as the Central Land Council (CLC), who represents Indigenous nations in Central Australia, have welcomed the decision. 

“This decision has been a very long time coming and our thoughts are with the elders who have longed for this day but are no longer with us to celebrate it,” CLC director David Ross said.

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