On the second day we went back to Uluru to watch the sunrise there and then took a walk around the base of the rock. There is an option to climb the rock although we were unable to due to strong winds. Climbing the rock is an enormously controversial issue. The local aboriginal people, the Anangu, believe the rock is sacred and do not want people climbing it. They also own the rock and the land around it, after it was returned to them by the Australian government several years ago. So why don’t they simply prohibit walking on the rock? From what I can gather, although the details of story differ according to who is telling the story, they either did ban climbing it for while or considered it and did research on what the impact on tourism would be and the result was that banning the climb would impact too severely on tourist numbers. Instead, they permit climbing but request that you do not do so, a kind of moral rather than legal prohibition on climbing. This is also emphasised by many of the tour operators. Both the tour leader and the guy who I booked it through urged non-climbing. However, I probably would have climbed had I been able to. I’m in favour of respecting people’s spiritual beliefs (although why respect false beliefs? I don’t respect Christian beliefs, I think they’re ridiculous) but the fact that they don’t take their own beliefs seriously enough to sacrifice tourist revenue for indicates to me that it is not a strongly held belief. That doesn’t mean that I’m accusing them of being hypocrites. There’s nothing contradictory about holding a belief but sacrificing it for the benefits that could be gained by doing so. But if the spiritual belief can be outweighed by revenue then I can’t see why it isn’t also outweighed by the enjoyment I would’ve got from climbing the rock. I also think its a strange position to hold that the option to climb must be kept open while advocating non-climbing. Surely if the moral pressure not too climb is strong enough to do the work they hope in deterring people then it would also have a similar effect on tourism. That is, a moral prohibition could have the same effect as a legal one, and so revenue would fall similarly. Perhaps there is a way of resolving the apparent contradiction: the moral pressure may work on peoples voluntary desires, so that they will still desire to visit the place even though they cannot climb. That way, the Aboriginals get what they want without losing revenue. But perhaps they need to do some research into what the effects of a moral prohibition would be before doing it.