Locked Out of Our National Parks

Australia’s cultural identity has forever been closely connected with the Australian landscape. The natural world around us has helped forge our unique Australian spirit from which emerges our sense of humour, creed of mateship, altruism, ingenuity, self-reliance, courage and resilience in the face of hardship. Although the vast majority of us live in cities or suburbs, our character still draws on our close connections to our bushland, beaches and harsh desert interior. In visiting the natural world with our families to picnic, bushwalk, swim at the beach, go fishing or four-wheel-driving, go hunting or explore our country in caravans, we reaffirm and reinforce our connection with our landscape.

Our attachment to our land is reflected in the image of Australia we present to the rest of the world. Popular images used to sell our country feature pristine beaches, reefs full of colourful coral and fish, forested mountain ranges and the red sands of our deserts with Ayers Rock standing proud against a deep blue sky. Many of these areas are protected as national parks and until recently remained accessible to everyone regardless of their ancestry or religious views via long-established tracks and trails that open the gate to remarkable vistas, waterfalls, canyons, rivers and other natural features that inspire awe and wonder.

This report appears in our March edition.
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Over the last twenty years a number of our natural wonders have been drawn into controversy due to beliefs about their religious significance by a small group of mixed-race Australians who identify more closely with their Aboriginal ancestry over other cultural and racial connections in their background. According to their religious views, only certain men or women can access these places, all others are excluded under threat of punishment of some sort. Sadly, these animist beliefs built on old myths and superstitions have been permitted to re-emerge under the cover of identity politics, racial grievances and political gamesmanship. It is a travesty that they are being accepted as legitimate reasons to manage access in our public lands by supposedly secular government authorities.

The iconic climb to the summit of Ayers Rock was closed in October 2019, as was the summit of Mount Warning in northern New South Wales in October 2022. Many rock-climbing routes in the Grampians in Victoria were closed to the public in 2020 pending Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments, and many of these routes are unlikely to be reopened. Restrictions have been proposed on public access to the summits of Mount Beerwah, Mount Tibrogargen and Mount Coolum in the Glass House Mountains in south-eastern Queensland. Queensland government policy supports a ban on public access to these places based on Aboriginal ideology. St Mary’s Peak in South Australia has signs requesting visitors to stay away from its summit and stop at a lower saddle with a lesser view; and the official position of the South Australian government is to support a ban likely to come in the near future. That’s just the mountains. Many other places, beaches, lakes and camping grounds are similarly impacted. All these restrictions have emerged as national park authorities across the country adopt and promote Aboriginal ideological beliefs and force them onto the rest of the community.

In closing these long-established tracks our freedom of movement is impinged. We lose access to popular locations that provide life-affirming, uplifting experiences from which all society benefits through improved physical and mental health, and an appreciation of the importance of preserving these special places for future generations. Our understanding of the natural world is diminished if we are not allowed to enter, explore and experience these remarkable places. Businesses in these places close as tourists go elsewhere.

As our governments officially promote and pander to irrational cult-like beliefs we allow their adherents to be locked into a cycle of ignorance, isolating them from rational viewpoints and scientific perspectives that provide a means of personal growth and enlightenment and enjoyment of the full benefits of modern civilisation. Locking people into archaic belief systems is doing them great harm and limiting their full potential.

The advent of access and other privileges based on race is a source of division in our community. It is doing great harm to our once united nation.

The bans on public access to the summits of Ayers Rock and Mount Warning provide examples of what is in store for other parks in the country. Closures at both were founded on lies. The facts demonstrate that justifications used by Commonwealth and state government authorities were not based on well-established anthropological science, but on myths and misconceptions and a rejection by public servants and bureaucrats of the sound utilitarian principles that should be applied in formulation of public policy. In the end the benefits to the public from our experience of awe and wonder in these beautiful natural places far outweigh any sense of offence felt by small groups who seek to impose their ideology on the rest of us. 

At Ayers Rock, our famous red monolith in central Australia, a revival in fundamentalist Aboriginal spirituality occurred when new groups arrived in the area drawn by the handover of the park to private Aboriginal interests in 1985. They were egged on by activists from the cities. These newcomers rejected the pragmatic approach to tourists of the old men and women at the Rock who were either indifferent to tourists climbing or encouraged the climb. The old people recognised we all look at the world differently, and while they saw the underlying dreamtime stories, the tourists saw rocks and plants, but that was fine. The same open-minded outlook allows non-believers to respectfully visit churches and mosques to marvel at the artwork and architecture without having to accept the religious beliefs that led to their construction. The newcomers at Ayers Rock put in place restrictions that culminated in the public ban on walking to the summit in 2018. The ban was supported by spurious environmental claims and fearful views on safety by park managers that exaggerated the risks. You will not read about the views of the old men and women in any signage or brochures in the park. The incredible life of the first climbing guide, Tiger Tjalkalyirri, or the sayings of Paddy Uluru and his brother Toby Naninga remain lost to tourists because they do not fit in with the postmodernist views pushed by the new owners and park management.

Similar claims are evident at Mount Warning. Before 1999 there were no issues with public climbing to the 1159-metre summit. In the 1970s and 1980s extensive anthropological surveys and interviews with local elders conducted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) demonstrated there were no problems with public access. In 1993 the NPWS published a glossy guide to this outstanding park that celebrated the summit walk, labelling it the “Staircase to the sky”; a walk that could be successfully completed by children as young as five and people in their eighties.

The NPWS celebrated the end of the century with a Millennium Walk and held a raffle for sixty lucky climbers to witness the first Australian sunrise of the millennium. It almost didn’t go ahead, as one Aboriginal man from outside the area threatened to block the walk for the first time in its modern history. Aboriginal elders with closer connections to the mountain branded his claims as a “modern-day invention”. In the early 2000s these anti-climbing claims somehow became entrenched in NPWS policy, which sought to prevent public access to the summit. In 2006 a sign appeared at the base, much like the one at Ayers Rock that told visitors not to climb. The NPWS paid tourism academics from Southern Cross University to form plans to “demarket” the park in 2014. The results published in a journal article titled “Demarketing an Iconic National Park Experience”. Name another government anywhere in the world that would seek to diminish the importance of one of its natural wonders! Despite this bizarre campaign, there was no impact on visitor numbers and tens of thousands still came to climb the summit. As with Ayers Rock, government authorities played the safety game, falsely claiming the walk was an extreme risk, failing to acknowledge that their lack of maintenance had likely contributed to a reported increase in minor injuries and lost walkers. Despite 3.5 million climbers since the track was constructed there is very little environmental damage in the park, yet the NPWS claimed the walk was causing damage due to litter and human waste.

In 2020 the NPWS played its end game during the Covid lockdowns and “temporarily” closed the summit track. Under the cover of Covid it removed the chains that assisted less capable climbers to the summit, claiming engineering issues created an extreme safety hazard. Independent investigations suggested otherwise. These rolling temporary closures ultimately resulted in a total ban on the summit for all but a small group of Aboriginal men, as a new Aboriginal Place Management Plan was released in October 2022. This deeply flawed government document was put together without the involvement of other Aboriginal groups amenable to public access and without any consultation with the local community, bushwalking groups and local businesses reliant on visitors.

The NPWS allowed Mount Warning to be stolen based on lies and misrepresentation. The safety and environmental issues have been exaggerated beyond all connection to reality. The problems are trivial and can be easily fixed with some minor track maintenance. The NPWS embraces the ideology of one Aboriginal group with tenuous links to the mountain, whose tenets of sacredness are a “modern-day invention”, over groups with closer ties established long ago. The “secret men’s business” at Mount Warning, so reminiscent of the Hindmarsh Bridge scandal, is worthy of an ICAC investigation or royal commission. 

The heart of the issue for both Mount Warning and Ayers Rock is poor management. Neither Parks Australia nor the NPWS has properly managed these natural wonders for many years. Ayers Rock was better managed under the direction of the late Derek Roff up to his departure with the forced takeover of the park by the Commonwealth government in 1985. At Mount Warning the last act of sound management was the construction of the summit lookouts in 1989 and track repairs in the 1990s. It’s all been downhill since then in regard to information, facilities and maintenance.

One simply has to look at how similar natural wonders are managed overseas to realise how badly things are done here. Zion National Park in Utah attracts nearly five million visitors annually and manages to balance access to remarkable walks and lookouts like Angels Landing with competing safety, environmental and cultural responsibilities. The much smaller Diamond Head State Monument in Hawaii, with the popular Diamond Head walk attracting a million visitors a year, similarly manages high visitation while preserving important environmental and cultural sites. There needs to be a fresh approach, and public access to long-established lookouts needs to be returned as a first order priority.

The lockouts at Ayers Rock and Mount Warning provide an important message to us all and we should be resisting irrational actions taken on our behalf by the governments we elect. The New South Wales government announced plans in June 2022 to hand over our all its national parks to Aboriginal groups. Look out for many more closures and much more division and community outrage if the Mount Warning model is followed.

Ordinary Australians, busy getting on with life, have been slow to realise the full consequences of the political war being waged against them by the so-called “progressive” political players that now control much of our public service and inhabit higher places in government bureaucracy, media and corporations. Their corrosive influence on public policy has prioritised nonsensical postmodernist concepts of race and gender and animist ideology over historical and scientific facts, democratic ideals of utilitarianism, and freedom of speech and movement. Pragmatism in managing our national parks is being replaced by an impossible zero-harm safety mentality coupled with over-regulation, environmental alarmism, animist mysticism, myth and superstition, and it is being done under our very noses. As the environmentalist Arthur Groom outlined over seventy years ago, “we think and live literally within four walls”; this is now made immeasurably worse in our “smartphone” era where our news is controlled, groupthink dominates and dissenting rational voices and views are shamed or ignored. The grievance industry, thin-skinned minority groups who claim victimhood based on distant historical injustices, have easy access to guilt-ridden, sensationalist media and government agencies who are too eager to appease and not strong enough to simply say No. Instead of opening up debate, our internet era has narrowed it ever tighter. The time is long overdue that the silent majority who value the opportunity to enjoy the natural world on their own terms without undue influence from government or the ideological beliefs of others raise a voice and demand to be heard. 

If we fail to stand up for our common ideals we risk being locked out of the wonderful country around us. In appeasing narrow-minded selfish minorities who see themselves as perpetual victims, we agree to be locked out of the Australian landscape and risk losing the very essence of what makes us Australian.

Marc Hendrickx is a geologist who has worked across Australia. His books about Ayers Rock and Mount Warning, available from Connor Court, provide facts and information that government authorities have long ignored or suppressed. In February 2024 he launched an e-petition to reopen Mount Warning, which may be signed at the NSW Legislative Council e-petition website up until May 1.


38 thoughts on “Locked Out of Our National Parks

  • NarelleG says:

    Why hasn’t this been unlocked for the general public?

    • Robert Kennedy says:

      Many years ago, during the nineties, my late wife and I were in southern NSW and decided to visit Cape Jervis naval base and town, which is situated in a NSW National Park. However after driving down the road for a short distance, we were confronted by a boom gate and sentry-like box with one of our mixed-race abo’s sitting in it and asking for entry money to the N,P.
      I explained that we only wanted to go to the town and not use the Park, but he would not allow us to drive through without paying first. So I told him to shove it and turned my ute and caravan around and drove out.
      In the years since Ayers Rock (I still won’t use that other name) has had an entry fee to it placed on it, we had driven past it a number of times without leaving the highway.
      And people, it’s only going to get worse. Most people claiming to be aboriginal would not exist if Australia wasn’t settled by firstly the English and since then people from all over the world; the only full-bloods are mainly in the NT, and some parts of WA and Qld, The rest are of mixed blood, Abo and European, but as the article states, somehow this tiny minority seem to belt the rest of us into submission. How long are we going to stand for it???

      • ARyan says:

        Well mate, where do we start. This is a class thing. Without bothering to read the rest – you were trying to get into the Naval base? Did you have clearance? They get through for free. Have you seen what tourists have left on the top of Ayers Rock? The streamers of stained toilet blowing in the wind should give you a clue. All along the walking trails in our bushland too. What do you people eat, that requires you to carry rolls of toilet paper with you the minute you leave your cars? While we can feel sorry for those who howl at the moon for the lost freedoms that were once awarded to our working class adventurers, the damage needs to be addressed and repaired. The bush needs to be rehabilitated, our fire trails need to be safe and accessible to those who actually need to fight bushfires and provide vital maintenance. I believe there are many online invitations for 4WD preppers to come and “play in the mud” in our national parks and reserves. You can take your angle grinders to the park gates and try to keep up all of the mindless activities you demand, but the mess you leave behind is downright ugly, as are the pathetic prepper politics that you slavishly gobble up, courtesy of the good ‘ole US of A – and social media, of course. Amply decorated with enticing selfies supplied by your lava-lipped lovelies. What a pity our working classes can now afford the Internet and a 4WD, and with these sad and inevitably obese shows of entitlement have the nerve to call themselves “middle class”.

      • Ken McNamara says:

        That “full blood” “mixed blood” language was used in the racist policies that used to split families apart – to the point that children were prevented from seeing their dying parents or attending their funerals.

        You might want to reconsider your language and thinking.

        • kh says:

          Mr Kennedy uses the language that ordinary Australians used until recently. Now many are afraid to speak publicly because they may be censured for not using the right words. As a result, they are not heard in the public debate – but they are still there and it is important for democracy that their voices be heard too. I have much respect for ordinary Australians. They may seem unvarnished but have built a remarkable country and generally have a strong sense of fairness and decency. We do wrong to discourage them from speaking in their own voice.

  • March says:

    Please consider signing a NSW parliamentary petition to reopen one of those natural wonders… Link is…

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    An excellent piece here by Marc Hendrickx.
    There is a ridiculous ban imposed by officialdom on the climbing of Ayer’s Rock (or Uluru.) Perhaps it would be OK to require climbers to wear rubber-soled boots or shoes, so as to make the least possible contribution to the weathering and erosion of this iconic monolith; which processes Nature herself performs continuously.
    I would argue also that the ‘traditional custodians’ who are granted exclusive access to these sites of great tourist attraction, should be obliged before entering to leave their non-Aboriginal genes behind.
    Lord Howe Island is rated by certain members of the Pacific cognoscentii as the finest of all the islands of the Pacific, and it is a mere two hours’ flying time from Sydney. But of Its two enormous basalt peaks, Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower, only the latter is open for tourists to climb, and then only in a group conducted by an official tour guide. Fair enough, IMHO.
    Access to Mt Lidgbird, on the other hand, is only open to government officials. In my honest opinion, nobody at all should have such unconditional privileged access, for whatever justification. Open it to all, or open it to none.

  • Rob H says:

    In Queensland the Pomona King of the Mountain race has been cancelled by the State Environment bureaucracy. Initially this was reported as for ” environmental and cultural reasons”. This has been quickly changed to “safety” reasons in subsequent reporting. There have never been any serious injuries in all the decades of both the race and everyday climbing by local residents and visitors.
    Why has this become an issue for our State environmental bureaucrats and their Minister? Who raised this issue?
    And what were the “cultural” issues initially referred to in news reports?

  • Citizen Kane says:

    Believe me, government bureaucracies, where not a single meeting or day goes by without genuflecting on notions of existing on ‘stolen land’ never ceded, are completely infected by the magical and mythological thinking that surrounds new age Aboriginal culture. From Ernie Dingo’s welcome to country to ‘always was always will be’ Aboriginal (and Palestinian) land, these bureaucracies are completely captured. Under the rubric of ‘ [Aboriginal] caring for country’, environment departments are throwing science in the dustbin to be replaced by Pascoesque myths on land management practices. Since when was setting fire to everything in sight and then indiscriminately slaughtering all native fauna fleeing such fires somehow ‘caring for country’ but that is what we are sold. Many thousands of years ago, people wiser than contemporary Australians realised that this was not really the best way forward with expanding populations and developed Agriculture instead. A shining example was some bright spark (within government) thought that just because Aboriginal burning in the flat open woodland savannah of the Northern Territory had played a role in grass regeneration there, that the same practice should be brought to the naturally heavily forested Cape Barren Island, which after having a series of Aboriginal ‘spot fires’ lit on it, in no time flat turned into a conflagration that consumed over 2/3rds of the island and only extinguished as it had no place left to burn once it had reached the shoreline in all four compass directions. It is literally a case of watching the descent into a new ‘dark age’.

    • ianl says:


      Ayers Rock is an inselberg, not a unique geological formation in the worldwide sense that there are many others known and mapped.

      It’s real value lies in the obvious visualisation of geologic time – how long did it take for the surrounding rock to be eroded down to its’ current plains level, with the inselberg remaining as more resistant to erosion due to an unremarkable local accumulation of sedimentary cements.

      Superstition has nothing to say about that fact.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    As you may know, we in Peko were locked out of land we considered fertile for new mines in 3 separate cases at East Alligators NT, Shoalwater Bay and Lockhart River Qld, when creation of a new park of some type (world heritage, federal or state) was the mechanism. In two cases, some or all of the land then became joint park and new military training areas that had the potential to damage the environment more than the typical tiny footprint of a mine.
    People wonder why some politics is hard to follow or illogical of against national economic advancement. So do I. Geoff S

  • Adelagado says:

    Its no coincidence that this is happening at the same time that Alice Springs and and other aboriginal centres are descending into hell. If you encourage and enable primitive beliefs and superstitions you will inevitably get primitive behaviour.

  • Lo says:

    I came upon a site with quite a few perhaps artefacts, stones that seemed to have been formed into simple shapes for scraping or cutting. They were in the undisturbed edges of the area, with evidence of a long ago fire.
    Given todays attitudes I considered it prudent to never mention it.

  • cel47143 says:

    My husband and I visited Ayers Rock in 2009, went to one of the museum/art gallery/information centers, did the walk around tour, to be informed o a graphic that among the local tribe’s traditional food was rabbit. Wonder if they are still telling visitors that. Same in the mostly Aboriginal town I live in, middle age locals, both male and female, tell the school kids at appropriate cultural lessons, how they hunted rabbits.

  • call it out says:

    These restrictions, and the sometimes fabricated cultural justifications for them, are producing a backlash, as is evident here. If there is to be a wholehearted national reconciliation, the humbugging and hate from a small number of indigenous individuals and groups, needs to be resolved. There needs to be generosity and goodwill all round.

    • Lo says:

      What does reconciliation mean in this context? The word is much bandied about but I’m not at all sure what it is and what it requires to be considered complete.
      And it must be defined, quantified, measurable.
      I’ve been reading the word for years now. Please, what is it?

  • ARyan says:

    Unable to find the direct reply box for Mr Hendrickx, my reply, while seemingly directed at Mr Kennedy, applies to you all. So what is your heritage Mr Hendrickxxx?

    • March says:

      Why should anyone’s heritage or ideological beliefs matter when it comes to accessing National Parks funded by the public. What an ass!

    • Paul W says:

      His heritage is that he is an Australian in Australia in the territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is the homeland of the Australian people. Everyone in this land has a right to be Australian and to just be Australian and to practice Australian cultural activities like bushwalking.
      He is being discriminated against, and you are a racist.

      • David Isaac says:

        Racism, schmacism. Races are extended families of closely related peoples and happiest when living on their own patch. Aristotle knew this and so do those who wish to subvert nations. The various sub-races of the British Isles with a sprinkling of other European.and a dash of central and east Asians made up the non-indigenous people of Australia in 1945. They certainly had their squabbles. Twenty years later after a huge influx of much different New Australians, although overwhelmingly Christian and European, we succumbed to the worldwide liberal propaganda and dismantled the White Australia Policy All seemed well for a while as a touch of the exotic was added to the national dough. Once the churches were subverted and feminism was well-established the demoralisation phase of the nation-wrecking, with an escalating torrent of anti-White, anti-racist propaganda and indoctrination was unleashed. We are now in the invasion phase, 700 000 new legal migrants last year ( total births in 2022 were 309k of which very many are children of new migrants). That’s how you hand over your country.
        Mr Hendrickx is clearly descended largely from the people of the British Isles. He looks like an ‘Aussie’. Up until the 1980s anti-racism campaigns there would have been no controversy about this.

  • agrinton says:

    Re the Ceremony Country sign, it’s a pity they didn’t have a grammar checker. “Sites lies”?


    It’s like being locked out of your own home. Absurd calling these places national parks when most of us are forbidden entry. Better to call them apartheid parks where Australians find out that they are a division of races with some more equal than others. We’ve degenerated into a new, Australia-wide iteration of Animal Farm. And, true to script, the Far-Left Socialist Albanese government is facilitating the degenerative political process.

  • Ceres says:

    Knew I would love Marc’s article when he insisted on using the name Ayers Rock.

  • Stan Yeaman says:

    It’s not just access to National Parks, it is the use on public roads maintained by you, a Commonwealth taxpayer. The public highway from Ayres Rock to WA can be used by you only if you pay a substantial fee to the local aboriginal council. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to even see the Olgas, or whatever they are now called.
    The objective is obvious,- it is to deny access to large parts of Australia by Australians. How does it happen. We are such a laid back ignorant lot who succumb to any false story of aboriginal “culture”.

  • Phillip says:

    Is it surprising to know that since Albo lost his useless Voice Referendum, the Federal Govt has of Feb 24, changed the signage guidelines for all federally funded building and infrastructure projects so that we must use a template in black and ochre colours and include the well worn racist honour statement to some minority group of people. And if for the improvement of road safety to lower the risk of fatalities you are upgrading a road intersection, then the symbol and wording’Black Spot’ are definitely forbidden.
    How about that?!

  • ARyan says:

    A geologist is supposedly an educated person, should know better and be ashamed of themselves in this instance.

    • Citizen Kane says:

      Because we all know that when we visit a Aboriginal community anywhere in Australia it’s a picture postcard of cleanliness, order and respect for the local environmental amenity – if that is what you call shit strewn everywhere. And I note that you are happy to avail yourself of all those ‘middle class’ modern evils of a computer and phone and use the the towers and poles and satellites and wires of modern communication technologies so that you can post your thoughts here and elsewhere. But you lack authenticity and integrity and won’t earn my respect until living a genuine life in a humpy with no toilet paper – I might get an inkling of when that happens when you aren’t posting on here and elsewhere anymore, having discarded your phone – but somehow I doubt that is going to happen.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    In the United States recently a popular beer, Bud Light, thought it cute and definitely woke to use a transgender to advertise their brand. The backlash from the drinking public has all but ruined the company and was among the first to coin the phrase “go woke,go broke”. The revolt was effective because the participants gathered their troops and directed their anti woke vitriol and buying boycott against one target, in this case, Bud Light. It seems a similar assault could be mounted against just one target, for example, Mt Warning. If large crowds of bush walkers turned up to walk to the top it would be beyond the ability of anyone to stop them. The person to embarrass is the Premier who does not enjoy a huge majority and a great deal of very public bad publicity would be damaging. A few aborigines do not have the right to deny the overwhelming majority access to a public park.

  • john mac says:

    Self loathing Aryan? You need an extension ladder to mount your horse .

  • Bernie Masters says:

    Last year, my wife and I unintentionally drove to a sacred site, so identified by signage that included words such as ‘you have been warned’ if you keep driving along this track (we were towing a camper trailer and could not turn around or reverse out). When we got to the camping area used by Aboriginal people close to the sacred site, it was little better than a rubbish heap – damaged caravans, litter everywhere across the ground, car bodies, etc. We left without stopping and I regret not having taken a few photos to show how poorly the so-called custodians of the site respected the site.

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