The closure for a week of Mount Tibrogargan (above) and nearby Mount Beerwah, like Ayers Rock and Mount Warning and so many other special places now permanently closed to the public on racial grounds, has more to do with politics than culture. If indigenous culture were the issue, what respect has ever been given to the old men of Uluru, who grew up around the Rock and were either indifferent to tourists ascending the summit or, like Tiger Tjalkalyirri, actively encouraged visitors to climb.
At Mt Warning security guards now stop all but one particular group of local Aborigines setting foot on a landmark that formerly belonged to all Australians. Yet those with the closest historical affinity to the mountain, the shunned Ngarakbal people, who support public access, has been ignored for more than 20 years by woke bureaucrats more interested in making life easier for themselves than protecting the nation’s heritage. Look at it through the eyes of a city-bound public service pencil-pusher: a closed mountain means no more safety issues, no more rescues, no more outlays to maintain walking trails. Like Yes, Minister‘s hospital with no patients, a mountain with no walkers is perfection itself.
As I said, it’s not about culture and never has been. It’s about the power of favoured minorities to control the rest of us and the incapacity of the bureaucracy to say ‘no’ to unreasonable — indeed, insane — demands.
Non-indigenous Australians have been slow to realise the full extent of the campaign to delegitimise them by the so-called “progressive“ political players who now control much of our public sector and government. These seat-polishers in their air-conditioned offices have embraced post-modernist concepts of race, gender, identity and melded that toxic woke cocktail with a truly weird respect for animism; taken together these factors trump history, science and what should be democracy’s most revered concepts, freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Pragmatism in managing our national parks has been replaced by impossible zero-harm safety targets that close bush walking tracks and restrict movement to carparks and paved trails. Coupled with over-regulation, environmental alarmism, myth and superstition, all this has been happening under our very noses. If you’re a regular visitor to our national parks, when was the last time you saw a ranger actually looking after the place? When the bushfires come again, as they will and always do, bear in mind the cool-season preventive burns that weren’t done because officials were too busy placating spirits and closing off trails.
The time is long overdue for long-silent Australians to stand up for our common ideals. If we don’t raise a fuss, we risk being locked out of so many wonderful things. Uluru has already been snatched, likewise Mt Warning and, in Victoria, much-loved Grampians climbs are now off limits. I would argue that our unique landscape has helped forge the national character. It is bureaucracy that is now the threat to that heritage, meaning silence gives consent to the obscene idea that some groups of Australians are more Australian, more worthy of deference, than others.
The “temporary” closure of Mount Beerwah, highest peak in the Glass House Mountains National Park, and to Mount Tibrogargan could easily be declared permanent if enough people don’t protest. In South Australia the highest point in the Flinders Ranges, St Marys peak, remains under threat of a permanent ban. Access for rock climbers in the Grampians is a complete shambles, and we may see further areas there closed off to both climbers and hikers.
The omens are grim, especially if the Voice gets up. To quote Prime Minister Anthony Albanese “it would be a brave government that ignored the advice”, with clues in Western Australia as to how much further the indigenisation of landmarks, national treasures and even private property will go — just take, for instance, the recent state legislation awarding Aboriginal consultants a determining say on the disturbance of any ground of more than 1100 square meters. Already they can ‘advise’ — forcefully, insistently and with the full backing of the law — on the danger dams represent to the contentment and survival of “water spirits”.
To those who can climb Tibrogargan this week, I urge you to do so. The best way to send the message that Australia belongs to all Australians is to let your feet do the talking.
Marc Hendrickx is geologist. He blogs at Right to Climb