The last climb of Uluru

| October 25, 2019

Today, and for the past month or so, I have never been more embarrassed or ashamed to call myself an Australian.

Today marks the final day that Uluru (or Ayers Rock to some) is open to the public for climbing.

Today also marks the day, that hundreds of people line up, en-masse, to be one of the last people to climb this beautiful, yet utterly sacred piece of history.

What a trophy to hold. I can see it now, a lovely golden plaque that on the surface reads “I was one of the last to climb Uluru, Go me!”. But deep within its genuine definition reads “I am a disrespectful person, that lacks culture or empathy, and I have just performed an act of violation, that in some countries would be considered an utterly disgusting and punishable offence”.

When did the lines become so blurred, that there are only a handful of people that can truly grasp such a concept? So blurry that we come up with sentences like “Oh, it’s just a rock” or “Well maybe we should ban aborigines from walking on the harbour bridge because it is a landmark”. Wow. I am suffocating in this gas chamber of ignorance.

I have never had the unfortunate opportunity to view Australians in such a shameful way. I have spent the past few weeks reading countless comments on social media, that are undeniably sucking the life right out of me.

Many of the comments focus on reiterating the fact that Uluru is not owned by anyone. It is a natural rock formation, that was here long before anybody else. Yes, that may be true. But that is also not the focus of the Anangu people. That is not the issue at hand. The issue here, is not ownership.

The issue is the fact that Uluru is and has always been considered an intensely Sacred site to these tribes, Long before the European Settlers arrived. They are not asking for ownership “just for the hell of it”.

They just simply want to protect and preserve an immensely sacred part of their history and culture, that has always been an immensely sacred part of their history and culture, Many years before our ancestors arrived and trampled all over their very existence.

Yes, Uluru was here before everyone else, but why is it that we are forgetting the fact that The Indigenous People were here almost 60,000 years before our ancestors arrived?

We continually deny this fact, even with most of us having been to high school and studied the subject of History, and most definitely studied the Indigenous people and their history.

We sit on our pedestals proudly, without an ounce of decency, or empathy, and continually refuse to acknowledge the fact that prior to our ancestors arriving in 1788, this country was long inhabited and governed by the Indigenous people. Their traditions breathed life onto the land long before we built their roads and infrastructure.

They were not complaining of lack of resources, they were thriving.

So, what gives us the right to make such heinous comments and claim that “it is just a rock” and “anybody should be able to climb it”. I have never come across a more entitled group of people.

In 2008, former prime minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology to the Indigenous people. He had the decency to step down from his pedestal and acknowledge something that should never even have to be acknowledged. He apologised for the treatment they endured in those early years of colonisation.

He said sorry for the women that had been raped, the husbands that had been murdered, for the children that had been separated from their families, for removing these people from their well-established lives and environments. He said sorry for taking what was theirs long before his ancestors laid claim.

Have we not taken enough from them? Are we that selfish and deluded that we can not let go of our pride and immaturity and grant them this one simple wish?

It is just astounding to me how hard it is for Australians to grasp and respect culture.

In Asia (and many countries all over the world) there are dozens of sacred temples and other sites that people can visit, which have limited access, where certain parts are off limits. These sites are visited by thousands of tourists each year, and there are rules in place that are strongly enforced by their people, rules that are undoubtedly respected and followed by all that visit.

Why should it be any different for the Indigenous? Are we so heavily doused in denial and pride that we cannot apply this same amount of respect that we would show in other countries, here in our own country?

Do you think anyone would complain about limited access in the Taj Mahal, or not being able to see the queen’s bedroom in the Buckingham palace? Do you think someone would enter the War Memorial in Canberra and jump into the Pool of Reflection for a swim?

Do you think that anyone would question or complain about anything like this in another country, just as much as we all are about Uluru? God no.

Why? Because it is embedded in their culture, and visitors have the decency to respect that, because they understand the importance of respecting and preserving the history of that culture. A culture that will live on long after you and me.

Where is our culture? What will we be remembered for? Meat pies and shrimp on the barbie and saying G’day Mate? It is quite sad, and utterly rude that we are making such a fuss over a group of people that are trying to preserve a historically sacred and meaningful part of their culture.

We should be ashamed and embarrassed of ourselves.