Climbing the world-famous rock has long been considered disrespectful to the traditional owners and while it was technically legal, the Anangu people would politely ask people not to climb as it follows a sacred ceremonial path used in indigenous ceremony.
The climb has also damaged the rock itself, with a huge white scar from tourists walking the same path being visible from a distance.
A 12-person board voted unanimously to close the rock on a very symbolic date — the 34-year anniversary of the day the Uluru land title was handed back to the Anangu people.
Chairman and senior traditional owner Sammy Wilson made an impassioned speech prior to the vote, explaining the sacred nature of the site.
“It is an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland,” he said. “If I travel to another country and there is a sacred site, an area of restricted access, I don’t enter or climb it, I respect it. It is the same here for Anangu. We welcome tourists here. We are not stopping tourism, just this activity.”
Despite closing the climb, there is still plenty for tourists to enjoy in the region.
“Activities at the Red Centre include camel rides, the Uluru Segway tour which takes visitors around the base of Uluru, a number of walking tracks including the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Mala walk, outback cycling rides, Uluru motorcycle rides and even skydiving,” a spokesperson for Tourism NT told news.com.au. “Maruku Arts offers art, tours and workshops, and of course there are many sunrise/ sunset tours on offer.”