A sign of respect

Back in 1997 the sign at the base of Uluru carried a message from the traditional owners saying that the Anangu, for cultural reasons, do not climb Uluru. It also stated that while the Anangu gave permission for people to climb, they preferred them not to.

The signs wording has since been changed. Permission is no longer used but the traditional owners still ask that people engage in other activities instead.

Im not sure most Australians would accept that Uluru is a sacred place to the Anangu just as Mount Warning is to the Bundjalung people.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service hasnt closed the Uluru climb nor, I think, is it likely to close the Mt Warning climb. But there is a change of $25 for a three-day pass into the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Thats the only way you get up close and cosy to the rock and the Olgas. I suspect that the no climb request has had little or no effect on tourist numbers out there.

Maybe the Mt Warning climb could operate on similar lines to the one at Uluru. All or a percentage of the fees collected could be used to establish an Aboriginal Cultural Centre or whatever. Whether this would have any effect on tourist numbers at Mt Warning only time will tell. But perhaps its an idea that the concerned Murwillumbah businesses could investigate and support.

We have to share this country. We newcomers have not done this very equitably in the past. Things have always been on our terms.

A genuine acceptance of, and respect for, the cultural significance of certain Aboriginal sites shouldnt be too great a burden to carry. And an alarmist reaction to any signs at Mt Warning wont help. After all, our initial fears that land rights would cost us our backyards were groundless.

Barry Walsh


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