Climbers scramble for last chance at Uluru

Climbing Uluru will be banned after a fortnight in recognition of local Indigenous people's wishes.
Climbing Uluru will be banned after a fortnight in recognition of local Indigenous people's wishes.

A fortnight before climbing Uluru is banned in recognition of local Indigenous people's wishes, Australians continue to flock to the ancient sandstone rock.

Many missed out on Friday when the 348-metre high rock was closed to climbers from 8am with a 38 degree forecast deemed as too hot.

Hundreds still managed to get there early enough to form an endless trail of humans snaking their way up the steep first phase of the gruelling climb.

Domestic car travellers are driving the surge in tourism, many of them visiting Uluru for the first time and not wanting to miss out on climbing the monolith during their lifetime.

For Anangu traditional owners, although they welcome tourists, the rock is of great spiritual significance and climbing it is an offensive and dangerous activity they don't want people doing.

Jeff Lis, 52, and Stefan Gangur, 51 have been friends since high school and travelled from Melbourne to climb Uluru.

"We are both well travelled and everybody, everywhere knows Ayers Rock and they ask if you have climbed it and visited it and say: well you live there," Mr Lis told AAP before completing the climb on Friday.

"The fact it is closing on the 26th (October), we thought bugger it, we will come here and climb it.

"I've got some pretty strong views on it personally, I was born in Australia, it is part of my culture and ancestry as much as anyone else's but I'm not laying claim to it, saying it is mine or a sacred site or anything like that."

He argues the walk could still be managed properly and traditional owners are "shooting themselves in the foot" because they will lose revenue they receive whenever people pay to visit the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

The hotels and campground at the nearby Yulara Ayers Rock Resort have been at close to 100 per cent for the majority of the last 18 months.

National Park culture and heritage project officer Shaeleigh Swan, an Anangu woman, said traditional owners tried to explain the importance of Uluru to their belief system.

"The climb is around a significant site, it is a big part of Tjukurpa (creation beliefs) which has not been able to be told because of interference from tourists," she told AAP.

The general manager of the national park, Michael Misso, said rather than negatively affecting tourism he thought closing the climb would set a new direction that would ultimately mean a better visitor experience.

Bookings after the climb closes on October 26 remain high, he said.

"Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its natural, cultural values and traditions intertwining for thousands of years," he told AAP.

"The closure of the climb enhances the park's world heritage values ... it is in conflict if you have got inappropriate visitor activity."

Australian Associated Press