Uluru Golf Course?

My wife Patricia and I first visited Uluru in 1971 on our honeymoon. We drove the 450 kms of rough unsealed road from Alice Springs, pitched out tent about 50 yards from the edge of Uluru, and woke in the morning to gaze up from our tent at the majestic 300-metre high sight. 

In the 41 years since then, several things have changed. First, there’s a town called Yulara about 18 kms away from the Rock with a range of accommodation options from 5-star to camping, and other facilities like post office, bank, supermarket and restaurants. There’s a “luxury tented accommodation” site called Longitude 131 (see http://www.longitude131.com.au/?gclid=CO-bh7uZt7MCFUsdpQodrBwAjQ) , where you can get a room for two for only $2070 a night (in the off season). There’s a modern airport. And there’s an impressive cultural centre. 

I can understand why these developments were needed to allow large numbers of tourists – both domestic and international – to visit Uluru (and the nearby Kata Tjuta), and give them access to the kind of facilities they might expect to make their visit both enjoyable and meaningful. 

However …. I sometimes find myself saying to people that there are now two kinds of “Outback”. There’s the classical Outback, which by definition means somewhere remote, with very few people living there, and going there takes you into a decidedly different world. This kind of Outback includes the Canning Stock Route, Cameron Corner, Lake Eyre, and many other such places, and even the Birdsville Races (where there might be several thousand people, but it’s still very much classical Outback). 

And then there are places like Uluru. Most Australians would probably say off the cuff, “Yes, Uluru’s in the Outback.” But is it remote? Well, you can fly there on a 737 jet together with 150 other people, or you can drive there on the fully-sealed Lasseter Highway. Are there very few people living there? Yulara has about 1000 residents, with up to 4000 tourists there at any one time. Are you entering a decidedly different world by going there? Well, maybe in some senses, but you can easily maintain your 5-star lifestyle if you so choose. In my view, it fails the test for being a classical Outback place. 

This is not to discourage people from visiting Uluru. For me, it’s a mystical and overwhelmingly special place. I’ve visited it many times, and I still find going there an emotional experience. 

But according to today’s paper, there’s a proposal afoot to build a golf-course near Yulara. I find this idea outrageous. A spokesman for the proposal is quoted as saying: ”There is not much to do there in the eye of many tourists other than visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta, which for many of us should be enough, but we are talking here about the average tourist who is looking for things to do.” 

I would say to the average tourist, “If there’s not enough to do here, then you’re free to go somewhere else, mate.” 

To my mind, this is just another example of the owners of tourist facilities taking the view that anything which generates more profit for them is by definition good for Australia. By allowing such schemes to proceed, we run the risk of destroying those very things which draw people here in the first place. 

Apart from the obvious objection that a golf course would require substantial amounts of water to be drawn from the artesian basin to maintain it, we need to ask ourselves what sort of a place we – or rather I should say indigenous Australians – want Uluru and the area near it to be. What about an amusement park? Or a casino? Where do we draw the line? 

How might the Egyptians feel about a golf course near the pyramids? Maybe a few tennis courts would be a nice addition to Anzac Cove. 

I’m quite worked up about this, aren’t I? What do you feel?

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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13 Responses to Uluru Golf Course?

  1. Cuppa says:

    Am in full agreement with you. Further development is outrageous. I am envious of your having got to experience Uluru as it was in 1971. I have been twice, once on motorcycle in 2000 & once in the bus in 2008. It is a truly special place. The rock itself is an eye magnet … impossible not to look at it. The red. The green. The Desert oaks. If tourists find that this is not enough they are missing the point. If they would rather play a round of golf than walk the Valley of the Winds they should get back into their air conditioned vehicles & take their bloody croissant breakfasts somewhere else.

    Cuppa

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Right on, Cuppa! Maybe feeling as we do about this says something about having cottoned on at least to some extent to how our indigenous brothers and sisters feel about the land and about a very special place like Uluru, which is far more than just a huge rock sticking up out of the ground. It’s part of the definition of being an Australian. And that definition has nothing to do with five-star pubs and golf courses and casinos, and having such things in the vicinity can only be a distraction from what we hope people will “get” by visiting there.

  2. Gillian says:

    It’s easy to see why this proposal has got you stirred up.
    I wonder what the profile of the ‘average tourist’ looks like?
    It’s a bit of a paradox that cashed-up tourists who can afford to play golf and need to be entertained on holiday, even when face-to-face with the great mystery of Uluru and even more, the Valley of the Winds, might also leave impoverished, without having spent the time and allowed the vastness of the Outback to seep into their beings. (A bit like camping holidays when kids and we adults mooched around doing very little, and feeling good about it as we re-connected with sun, sand, bush, night sky, wildlife with whom we shared the campsite – and with one another.)
    But that kind of holiday isn’t easy to capture on an iphone.

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful words, Gillian. How sad it is when we can’t find meaning in life without being pampered and amused! The desert has wisdom to impart if only we will disengage from all the distractions of the world for a while. The Valley of the Winds has far more to give us than a birdie on the third hole.

  3. Frances Macdonald says:

    I am so sad that such a suggestion could even be made or taken seriously.

    Are all the sacred places in the world to be descrated?

  4. Rose Edington says:

    I hope the golf course doesn’t happen! Bottom line mentality is egregious!
    So, will you be heading up the organization to stop golfing at Yalaru?
    Rpse

  5. LO says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you all. If a visitor needs a golf course, wonderful, but he is looking in the wrong direction; please go somewhere else. The magic beauty of Uluru resides precisely in its loneliness and the respect it inspires when facing sheer Nature: an idilic enconuter that , as someone said previously, reconnects us with The Spirit.
    I am not Australian, but if I were, I would start a movement to oppose such proposal. Do investors appreciate your natural wealth or simply want to use it and discard it as it have been done worldwide ? Each one’s country comes with a not renewable amount of priceless resources and treasures, and it is our pride, duty and gratefulness to preserve them for the future. Do they know what dessert in all senses, not only regarding water reserves, means?
    I have never been in Uluru, but everytime I watch a picture or a video of such wonder, I feel an owsome desire to be there, enjoy the energy that pervades in its majesty and solitude, just as it is now, not as predators will leave it.
    Sorry maybe it is not my call to give this opinion, but I think a crime can still be prevented.

  6. Kate says:

    the golf course proposal has not been dropped. Returned from uluru yesterday and sat next to gentleman( a Brit.), on the plane, doing sustainadlity work with the indigenous people and he told me that its still on the cards. He showed me photos for the rubbish dump at Yulara, absolutely shocking. At the Backpacker accomodation, where I stayed, there were no recycling bins anywhere. I have traveled alot, what i saw was an extremely fragile area and indigenous communities in crisis. This is a disagrace, appaulling and embrassing. Lets draw this to the attention of all Australiians and beyond. The golf course will be followed by a casino. Where will the water/irrigation come from…draining the precious aquafers. Regards Kate

    • dazzlerplus says:

      This is very disappointing! Thanks for making it known. We all need to agitate as much as we can to have these crazy ideas dropped. Maybe it could become an issue in the coming federal election.

  7. Pingback: Uluru Golf Course Still Under Consideration | Bobby Dazzler's Blog

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