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24 November 2004
At the request of the Traditional Owners, the Director of National Parks will close the Uluru climb for one day on Sunday 28 November, the day family and friends lay to rest a senior lawman.
Traditional Owner Rene Kulitja has asked for understanding by visitors on Sunday:
"My name is Rene Kulitja and I live in Mutitjulu community. I am an Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board Member. Uluru is our traditional land, belonging to Anangu. Today is a very sorrowful one for us and we ask that the climb be closed.
"The one we lost was the Maruku Arts Chairman and he worked tirelessly not only for that organisation but in always supporting his people as the strongest of spokesmen at countless meetings."
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Manager Tony English said the Traditional Owners had requested the closure of the climb to uphold Tjukurpa, Anangu law, where access to sacred places is restricted during periods of mourning.
" This mark of respect upholds Uluru-Kata Tjuta's World Heritage cultural values, based on Aboriginal customs alive today that date back tens of thousands of years," Tony English said.
"In respect for these customs, we cannot name the person who passed away or show his face during this sorry period.
"All other parts of the park will be open as usual. Visitors will be able to drive around Uluru and undertake the spectacular walk around the base.
"At 8 am they can join a ranger-guided tour of the Mala Walk which will start in the car park at the base of Uluru. In addition, rangers will hold special talks at the Cultural Centre at 2 pm."
Since 1985 when the Park was handed back to the Traditional Owners, the climb has twice been closed for cultural reasons. It is closed for safety reasons in very hot or wet weather.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was listed as a World Heritage Area in 1994, as an outstanding example of traditional human land use and for its living traditions and beliefs of outstanding universal significance. The Park is run under Joint Management by the Australian Government and the Traditional Owners.