Christine Anu has said the Uluru climbing ban “is a step in the right direction” as she joins the Indigenous community in campaigning for other sacred sites to be protected in the same way.
Earlier this week the last of the chain over Uluru was removed after the site closed to climbers on October 26.
“It is a step in the right direction showing respect for what Aboriginal people’s connection is to a place,” the 49-year-old Torres Straight Islander woman told HuffPost Australia.
Anu added that while closing tourist access to Uluru is positive, now is the time to acknowledge the land Indigenous people have lost and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s connection to the land and sea.
“The thousands of middens that have been destroyed, the thousands of sacred places that have got highways and roads built over them and communities on top of places... There has to be a time where Aboriginal people’s connection to country is respected more.”
The October 26 ban on climbing Uluru marked 34 years since the site was handed back to the traditional custodians of the land, the Anangu people.
Since then, Indigenous communities have called for more sacred sites to be protected.
“Aboriginal people are very concerned about protecting sacred sites because they are our cultural landscapes,” Benedict Scambary, head of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, told Reuters last month.
The Bundjalung community of New South Wales hope to restrict tourist access to Wollumbin (Mount Warning) in the Tweed Heads area.
“It is equivalent to climbing on top of the Vatican,” a Bundjalung representative told CNN Travel. “It is equivalent to climbing on top of Muslim mosques.”
Indigenous elders of the Jinibara people in Queensland also want to stop the climbing of Mount Beerwah, the highest of the Glass House Mountains.
“It’s the mother mountain. It is a sacred site,” Jinibara senior elder Ken Murphy told Sunshine Coast Daily. “It’s where the birthing places were, that’s the main thing, not for people to climb and take videos up.”
However, Leanne Enoch, the Queensland minister for environment, recently said “there are no plans at this stage to close Mt Beerwah to climbers”.