By Andrea Romano
July 17, 2019
Australia, Northern Territory, National Park Uluru-Kata Tjuta listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, Ayers Rock or Uluru, sandstone rock sacred place for the Aboriginal people
Credit: Marc Dozier/Getty Images

If a certain place is about to become off-limits, chances are you probably shouldn’t rush to go there.

Despite efforts to discourage climbers on Uluru, or Ayer’s Rock, in Australia, as well as an upcoming ban scheduled for late October of this year, visitors seem to be flocking to get their final climbs in.

The ban, which will take effect on Oct. 26, 2019, was proposed as a way to stop visitors from attempting to climb the rock. Not only is the area fairly treacherous (people have died attempting to climb), but it is also part of a delicate ecosystem and has significant importance to the indigenous Anangu community.

According to Lonely Planet, it seems like the pending ban is only making people try even harder to make the climb, unfortunately. Apparently, people have been flocking to the site, ignoring signage, and even posting selfies from the top of the rock.

In particular, according to Lonely Planet, the nearby Ayers Rock Resort has seen occupancy at their resort rise from 51 percent in 2012 to 86 percent in 2018. Grant Hunt, CEO of Voyages, which owns the resort, told Lonely Planet that the increased visitors are mainly Australians looking to climb the rock. It’s unclear why so many want to climb the rock, either out of defiance, or perhaps just ticking off an item on their bucket list.

However, it’s not exactly international tourists who are causing the problem. “Most of the internationals these days are actually still horrified that the climb is still open; it’s domestic travelers who tend to do the climb,” said Tourism Central Australia CEO Stephen Schwer to ABC Australia.

Over the last year, since the ban was announced, tourism companies have been trying to figure out different ways to enjoy the area without climbing. “We really want to encourage travelers to adopt an early mindset and actually think about exploring the rock in different ways,” said Schwer to ABC Australia.

According to Lonely Planet, Ayers Rock Resort is developing some new activities for tourists within the park, including Opera Australia’s first-ever performance at Uluru in November 2019. Other ideas are still in the works.

The ban remains a fairly controversial decision since all Australian taxpayers contribute to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park fund. The Australian government officially gave the land back to the indigenous community in 1985.

Even if you can’t climb the rock, the area is still a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit. Travelers who respect the local culture are, of course, welcome to visit the park, see the wildlife, and take as many photos (hopefully from the ground) as they like.