Tourists rush to Australia's Uluru before ban comes into effect
Sydney - It is a holy spot for the indigenous Anangu, where their ancestors rest and outsiders are cursed for disturbing the red-colored Uluru monolith reaching for the sky.
The problem, however, is that Uluru has become sacred to another group: Instagramming tourists drawn to hike and climb the 1 100-foot formation in central Australia, capturing photos of sunlight glinting off sandstone.
But with a ban on hiking the formation set for October, tourists are making a last-ditch pilgrimage to set foot on the rock before it's illegal, creating human traffic jams reminiscent of deadly congestion on Mount Everest.
Local reporter Glenn Minett captured images of people on their way up Uluru in an antlike formation, leaving the surrounding area filled with trash, overflowing septic waste and illegal camping sites, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Outsider pilgrimages to Uluru have long angered the Anangu people.
WATCH: Tourists flock to climb Uluru before October ban
Large signs adorn the entrance of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, where in several languages people are asked to not climb on the formation.
In 2017, the Anangu successfully lobbied the government to ban climbing on the rock in a region where their ancestors arrived thousands of years ago.
As The Washington Post wrote then, the Uluru is blessed territory fiercely protected by Aboriginals there:
"The first Aborigines may have moved into the area that includes Uluru's rock as early as 20 000 years ago, according to a travel website that focuses on the formation. The indigenous people believe the world was unformed and featureless before ancestral beings emerged and shaped species and landscapes. For millennia, Uluru was a holy place, the land where Aborigines believed the shapers of the world walked."
Europeans exploring the center of Australia "discovered" the rock in the 1870s.
They slapped their own names on Uluru and other features they found. Uluru was named Ayers Rock, after Sir Henry Ayers, the chief secretary of South Australia.
The struggle over Uluru went on for decades, until 1985, when the federal government surrendered the title deeds back to the Anangu traditional landowners, according to the park's blog.
The Anangu people signed an agreement that leased the land to the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service.
That agreement was a huge win for the Anangu. In a symbolic move, the hiking ban will go into effect October 26 - the 34th anniversary of the handover.The Washington Post