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There is nothing, whatsoever, that can justify someone climbing Uluru today.

At the top of Uluru, a sacred site belonging to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu peoples, is the human excrement of those who were asked not to climb it.

Imagine.

You cannot wear shoes inside a mosque. You cannot bare your shoulders at St Peters Basilica. But you can, at least until October 26, defecate on a site of enormous spiritual significance, belonging to the world’s oldest continuous culture on the planet.

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As if that is not bad enough, that excrement washes down Uluru when it rains. The surrounding waterholes, also sacred to the Anangu people, are polluted by the waste of visitors.

In July, a photograph was shared on Twitter of a thick line of tourists trudging up the sandstone rock as though they were on some sort of pilgrimage.

“There’s cars parked either side of the road for about 1km leading up to the car park at the base,” the tweet read.

Since then, people flocking to climb the rock has not slowed down. We are four days from closure, and still, tourists are joining the end of the line, eager to climb a rock the owners have asked them not to.

On October 26, 2019, climbing Uluru will be permanently closed, marking 34 years since the park was handed back to its traditional owners.

The decision was made by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management, after it was found that less than 20 per cent of tourists were making the climb, a number that had declined significantly.

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A sign has also sat at the base of Uluru for decades that reads, “We, the traditional Anangu owners have this to say.

“The climb is not prohibited but we ask you to respect our law and culture by not climbing Uluru. We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. The climb can be dangerous. Too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru.”

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The number of people who have died exceeds 35, a reality that is particularly distressing to the traditional custodians, who feel great sadness if a visitor to their land is killed or injured.

Only one week ago, a 12-year-old girl climbing the rock fell several metres, injuring herself on the way down. At the same time, a number of Australian news publications have defended climbers’ rights to take a ‘modern-day pilgrimage’.

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Tourists have been asked not to climb it. We’ve been told why it is disrespectful. We can see, from kilometres away, the scar left by years of ignoring pleas. A clear path has been forged by the feet of climbers, where the rock is no longer textured, but smooth.

“It makes me sick looking at this photo at the disrespect and disregard shown for the traditional owners’ wishes,” a spokesperson from the Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation told News Corp

“Not only do people climb it but they defecate, urinate and discard nappies and rubbish on it.”

The photo, however, is not an anomaly. The National Park say it’s the busiest they’ve ever seen it. People are flocking to ensure they get the opportunity to climb Uluru before it’s too late.

What more can the Anangu people do to help us to understand?

Everyday, they open up their home to tourists. All they’re asking is that we don’t jump on the bed.

There is no justification, in 2019, knowing what we know, with a sign that couldn’t be more clear, to climb Uluru. None at all.

We exist in a cultural moment obsessed by the concept of religious freedom.

Perhaps we could extend such concern to the spiritual freedoms of Australia’s First Peoples, who at the very, very least, deserve to have the feet of tourists off their sacred site.

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