For years climbing the rock was considered a highlight of a trip to the Centre. It's important to note, however, that climbing Uluru goes against Aboriginal spiritual beliefs, and the Anangu would prefer if you didn't ... Although the number of visitors to Uluru has risen steadily over the years, the number actually climbing the rock is declining, while sales of the ideologically sound 'I didn't Climb Ayers' Rock' T-shirts are on the rise. (Lonely Planet: Up Front, Outback, Down Under). Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) in Central Australia is one of Australia's best-known icons and internationally renowned tourist attractions. Situated within the Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, Uluru is promoted as a 'must-see' site to both national and international tourists, with the park attracting around half a million visitors each year. As highlighted in the above quotation from the travel guidebook Lonely Planet, the key source of conflict relating to tourism at Uluru is the popular tourist activity of climbing the Rock. Partaking in the 1.6 kilometre climb to the summit goes against the wishes of the Anangu, the local Indigenous people, who are the traditional owners of the land. This chapter focuses on the experiences of backpackers at Uluru, examining their attitudes, dilemmas and actions in deciding whether or not they should undertake the climb. The discussion is contextualised within debates over the 'new tourism' thesis, and argues that backpacker travellers now increasingly demonstrate cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity when visiting such sites.
Down the Road: Exploring Backpacker and Independent Travel p. 33-53