Tourist behaviour, local values, and interpretation at Uluru: ‘The sacred deed at Australia’s mighty heart’
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- Hueneke, H. & Baker, R. GeoJournal (2009) 74: 477. doi:10.1007/s10708-008-9249-2
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This paper explores issues relating to multiple and changing values and uses of desert landscapes in the context of tourism at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (UKTNP), co-managed by Aboriginal people and the Australian Government agency Parks Australia. More than 400,000 people visit the park each year, drawn mostly by the massive red monolith. To the local Aboriginal people, Anangu, this rock is Uluru, a complex of places with great spiritual importance. Since co-management, UKTNP has become a symbol of the reconciliation process between Aboriginal and settler Australians. Climbing the rock is a popular activity. Aboriginal co-managers ask visitors not to climb Uluru but rather to learn about their culture and home through their eyes. Park management aims to discourage climbing. This research investigated how visitors respond to the Anangu request not to climb, and why some climb while others do not. We argue that spatial and experiential aspects of the park support climbing at the expense of participation in other activities more attuned to Aboriginal understandings of landscape at Uluru.