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They did it at Uluru, should we ban climbing at Mt Warning?

After a move to ban walkers up Uluru, the question has been asked if the ban should also apply to Wollumbin?
After a move to ban walkers up Uluru, the question has been asked if the ban should also apply to Wollumbin? Kath Muth

CLIMBING the summit of Wollumbin, also known as Mt Warning, has long been a point of contention between the community, tourists and indigenous groups.

Talks about banning hikers from navigating the popular mountain have reignited this week, following the news that walking up Uluru in the Northern Territory will be banned by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board.

From 2019, walking up the red rock will be prohibited. Could the same rule be applied to Wollumbin?

Mt Warning Tours owner, Michael Simmons, said "it's almost bound to happen".

Ultimately, Mr Simmon said he would be "100% guided by the indigenous community" as to whether a ban to hike the mountain should be implemented.

As a commercial tourism operator, Mr Simmons said he had chosen not to climb the mountain in line with cultural considerations to the indigenous community.

He said the indigenous history behind the mountain's formation and its impacts on the area was integrated into his tour packages.

But others, such as Mt Warning Rainforest Park's Mark Bourchier, don't share Mr Simmons' view.

"I would be very disappointed if they closed the mountain," Mr Bourchier said.

He is concerned businesses in the Tweed Valley would be severely impacted if a similar ban to that at Uluru was implemented at Wollumbin.

Of those staying at his park, Mr Bourchier claimed about 60% of tourists come to endure the five-hour round trip hike.

Arakwal Aboriginal Corporation acting general manager Sharon Sloane said the branch would support anyone that attempted to enforce a ban on climbing Wollumbin.

She said Wollumbin was "a sacred men's ground within the Bundjalung Nation" for the Arakwal people.

An Office of Environment and Heritage spokesman said there were no plans to prevent people climbing Wollumbin.

He said: "On-site signage advises visitors that Aboriginal people hold the summit to be sacred and they are asked to consider the Aboriginal people's wishes that they do not climb it".

However the National Parks and Wildlife Service website makes no mention of the mountain's walking track.

Emergency services are familiar with the mountain - many injured hikers are winched off Mt Warning every year.

Tightened safety warnings have been enhanced around the park after an American tourist was killed on December 5 last year when he was struck by lightening atop the summit.

Topics:  indigenous affairs mt warning northern rivers environment uluru



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