People are now banned from climbing one of the most sacred sites in indigenous Australian culture. The world's largest monolith, the giant Uluru in the desert of Australia's Northern Territory, is now officially off-limits to tourists and climbers. It will be closed from October 25 in recognition of the site's cultural significance to the local Anangu traditional owners. The giant site was once known as Ayers Rock, before it reverted to its historic name of Uluru. It has been a major attraction for decades. Tourists from around the world have flocked there in droves to climb the rock. However, it is a sacred site in Anangu culture. The Anangu custodians of the rock have long campaigned for the ban.
The ban was initially announced in 2017 and most visitors complied with it. Australia's tourist association said that only 16 per cent of visitors have actually climbed the rock since 2017. Local Anangu man Rameth Thomas, who grew up in a tiny community near Uluru, explained to the BBC how important the rock is to his people. He said: "That place is a very sacred place. That's like our church. I've been telling them since I was a little boy: 'We don't want you to climb the rock.'" He added: "All of our stories are on the rock. People right around the world come just to climb it. They've got no respect." Another resident said: "If I tried to climb on top of that parliament house at Canberra, they wouldn't let me in."