Insights from Quadrant

A mountain of lies

On Australia Day, before firing up the barbecues and celebrating their great good fortune in calling this country home, opponents of restricted access to the many natural landmarks being claimed as “sacred sites” gathered at Mt Warning. Below are the words of Marc Hendrickx, whose Right to Climb blog has led the fight to end race-based exclusion.


I’M A PROUD Australian. I’m proud of what this Country has achieved and represents, and of the Western values of Liberal Democracy that underpin that success. There are dark forces out there that want to see this country fail. Sadly some of these people are the very politicians and bureaucrats we put our faith in the run the country for everyone and not just for large corporations, or a few selfish entitled minorities who see themselves as perpetual victims rather than active citizens.

We need to ask ourselves what we can give this great nation rather than what we can take from it. We are all Australians regardless of race, religion or how long we have been here. We need to reinvigorate a sense of national pride as we face an uncertain future in troubling times.

One of the foundations of our Australian identity is our interaction with the unique Australian landscape. This sunburnt country, of sweeping plains and ragged mountain ranges we live in has helped forge our Australian character. Our bonds of mateship, our ingenuity and ability to bounce back after disaster, and our sense of humour originate to a large extent from the land around us. Without access to our country we risk losing the very essence of what makes us Australian.

And this brings me to Mt Warning. Its summit provides a platform that reveals remarkable views over World heritage listed rainforests, coastal plains and beaches, and the eroded remnants of the walls of a 23 million-year volcanic caldera. The summit provides a vantage point to appreciate the beauty of our natural world, inspires awe and wonder in our surroundings and reminds us, Warns us, of how special this place is, how fragile, and how important it is to preserve it for future generations.

For the last 20 years or so, rather than work for everyone who has a stake in the mountain, the people we have trusted to look after it on our behalf, our National Parks Service, have let the country down. This has been done based on lies that stack as high as the mountain itself. These lies are exposed in my book A Guide to Climbing Mt Warning.

Our National Parks belong to all Australians and access to them via long established tracks and trails is the right of everyone. The trail to the summit of Mt Warning is 115 years old this year. Access to our natural wonders must not be limited due to the religious views of others or petty bureaucratic restrictions that do nothing to protect our parks.

These places belong to all of us. Our National Park authorities seem to have forgotten this. It’s the very reason they were founded in the first place. It’s time we reminded them of it. It’s time to Reopen Mt Warning and other wonders, like the summit of Ayers Rock, and lay in place provisions that will ensure other places of awe and wonder can continue to be accessed by everyone and not a privileged few.

— Marc Hendrickx

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