Tourists using Uluru as a toilet was a contributing factor behind the decision to close the rock to climbers, the head of the Central Land Council says.
Defecating and urinating on the sacred rock was becoming a problem for its traditional owners, the council’s chief executive Joe Martin-Jard told Sky News. He said tourists were also leaving rubbish behind and becoming injured during climbs.
“They’ve wanted to see it closed for a very long time, for spiritual reasons, for cultural reasons, but if you speak to them they’ll also tell you that it’s for safety reasons, they’ve had to take down bodies off the rock, people have fallen off the rock and it really hurts them when they see visitors being hurt,” Mr Martin-Jard told Sky News.
“They’re a bit disappointed with people going to the toilet once they’re up there and leaving things like children’s kimbies (nappies) behind, and when we have the rare event of rain that pee and crap flows down the rock into very fragile water holes and rock holes that animals drink from.”
It was decided in November 2017 that the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board would close the climb for good, citing cultural and spiritual factors. The official closure is in 10 days on October 26 and tourists have been flocking to Uluru in record numbers ahead of the ban.
Mr Martin-Jard said Uluru’s traditional owners want people to keep visiting despite the climbing ban and the council “didn’t think” it would see a drop in visitor numbers.
“What we’re hearing from people who are intending to visit is that they’re waiting until the climb is closed so they can get to enjoy being at Uluru without people crawling all over it.”
His comments come as a girl was injured in a fall while climbing Uluru.
The South Australian girl, aged 12, fell while descending from the summit of the rock, according to the ABC. She was hospitalised after suffering from a compound fracture to her finger, considerable grazing and an injury to her ankle.
She had to be retrieved from the rock by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), who then flew the girl to the Alice Springs Hospital.
The girl had been visiting Alice Springs with her parents and younger brother when she took the fall. She apparently lost her footing and fell on the lower section of the climb, near where the chain is located.
Troy Dicks, a flight nurse from the RFDS told the ABC the girl “dived and rolled” and said he was initially concerned her injuries would be critical.
“On the steep decline, she’s actually got a run up, she’s actually dived and rolled,” Mr Dicks said. “Apparently, it was about a 20 to 30m fall.”
“I was greatly concerned and was thinking there was going to be critical injuries, but fortunately she’s done really well.”
He said the large number of bystanders on the rock were able to assist her.
— with AAP