From Ayers Rock to Uluru – celebrations declared “bittersweet” 78



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Do you remember when Ayers Rock was handed back to its traditional custodians and reverted to its original name of Uluru? It seems like almost yesterday but was in fact 30 years ago today.

Hundreds of people travelled to the red rock to celebrate the anniversary, including singers from the central Australian women’s choir and other choirs.

But has the decision to hand it back been a success, despite the strong opposition at the time?

Largely yes, but even today, there are still some issues, and The Guardian reports the federal indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, described the anniversary as a bittersweet day.

While largely positive about what had been achieved, he said successive governments had failed to fulfil one implicit promise: that the Anangu people would have a better life because of it.

Only one tour company in the park is Indigenous-owned, and the local Aboriginal community remains one of high unemployment.

The 30-year-anniversary has also been seized on by politicians to call for at least constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said after the 30-anniversary celebrations it’s not a matter of cup half-full or half-empty, but it’s a matter of being truthful.

What are your memories of Ayers Rock/Uluru? Have you visited since it was handed back and, if so, did you refrain from climbing it out of respect for the Aboriginal owners and their beliefs?

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  1. It was the best decision they could have made to hand it back, I never call it anything but Uluru now I love the name it sounds so Australian. Uluru has so much significance the the Aboriginals and it is good hands now

  2. Early in January of 1982, I climbed “Ayres Rock”, and signed the visitors book, at the very top. The signature before mine was that of a 10 year old boy, who commented that, “There should be a put at the top”.

  3. It has traditional and religious significance for Aboriginal Australia for the rest of us it is just a great place to visit

    9 REPLY
    • yes it is Helen but I can understand what Leanna means , Aboriginal history goes back 60 thousand years in this country

    • Yes Helen Uluru is a unique and spectacular place to all Australians. However Leanna is correct it does have a far greater cultural and spiritual meaning to indigenous Australians.

    • Australia has only been settled for just over 200 years Helen you can’t expect Uluru to have the same significance to us. And Libbi is right, the Aboriginals have been 60k years, that is a lot of culture and a lot of history.. thanks Tim

    • some people want to argue about anything, it is back in the hands of the Aboriginal people where it should be , you can still go and visit it Helen but to to the Aboriginals it is a spirtitual place

    • All I said was that, to me, it was more than just a great place to visit. That is not dismissing its relevance to the traditional custodians.

  4. My husband and I climbed it just before it was handed back to its traditional owners. I was very scared for a lot of the ascent and it is something that I would not do again. We started climbing at dawn and when we got to the top the sunrise was beautiful.

  5. it is a very beautiful sacred place …visited 5 years ago …the Aboriginal people ask that you don’t climb it…of course some people do …which just shows complete ignorance for their culture …

    7 REPLY
    • It’s just a rock that belongs to us all as far as I’m concerned…how can we hurt it by loving it and wanting to be part of it too..

    • that’s exactly the point Ann Maree Beales….why would you want to scramble all over it with your chip packets & Coke cans…proclaiming I have walked on the rock…….the Aboriginal people ( and I am not one ) are the original custodians of the great Sth Land …shame on us white folk for not valuing it better …but being a Celt …I took on board the bad luck that could befall someone who chose to defy a request …

    • I actually don’t eat chips or drink soda and I respect they want to keep it clean from rubbish..don’t understand why you have to be so insulting Rosanna..

    • i apologise Ann Maree Beales…. was generalising…didn’t quite come out that way …have a great day…

  6. It will always be Ayers Rock to me, why the name change ?

    5 REPLY
    • There never was a name change. It was always called Uluru by the Aboriginal people. It was called Ayers Rock by the white invaders as they chose not to accept the Aboriginal name.

    • And you’re a White lefty fool Ruth. Why don’t you go and live with Aboriginies? They love idiots like you.

    • James Rolfe
      I see you are too ashamed to show your face when you make such comments. Poor little man who doesn’t have the ability to debate an issue so resorts to name calling instead.

  7. In 1995 we climbed a small way up with our sons. what i remember were the carvings on the rock and you know those postcards which show the rock in many different colours? Its all true. Come dusk and it changes colour many times. What i remember most though was my then 4 year old who fell out of a bunk bed and cracked his skull within a Centre meter from his brain. He went to kinda and told everyone he fell off Ayres Rock.

  8. Went there in 1976 camped in a tent near the rock, had our 1/4 dingo, whippet dog with us she slept in the Suzuki 4×4. Best time being able to wander around and watch the Aboriginal people making boomerangs & doing their artwork. Taking photos with the colour of the Rock changing every few minutes. So grateful to have been there before all the changes.

  9. Today the name Uluru is almost universally accepted. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone refer to it as Ayers Rock.The handing back of “the rock” was of great significance to aboriginal peoples. To suggest the local indigenous people didn’t gain much from the hand over is both insulting and condescending. One they had a spiritually significant sight returned to them. Two lest we forget they had a decent life there long before we whites buggered it up for them.

    1 REPLY
    • Three, they love the White fella lifestyle they get. Four, none of them want to go back and lead their primitive stone age culture. Can’t blame them for that, they are only human.

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