Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is one of Australia's most high-profile tourist destinations. Each year, approximately 400,000 tourists visit the national park; around half are international visitors. From a Western perspective, Uluru is well known as Australia's most famous natural attraction; 348 metres in height and 3.6 kilometres in length, it is popularly regarded as the world's largest rock. From an indigenous perspective, Uluru-Kata Tjuta and the surrounding areas are of enormous cultural and spiritual significance to Anangu, the Aboriginal traditional owners of the land. The Western and indigenous perspectives are internationally recognized in the listing of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park as a World Heritage Area for both its natural value and cultural significance. This chapter examines the history of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, focusing on the contestations involved in the construction of this destination as an attraction for tourists. This chapter argues that this symbolic tourist site is a contested space where multiple layers of meanings are embedded, particularly in relation to the often conflicting discourses of Western tourism and indigenous culture. While Uluru-Kata Tjuta is owned by Anangu, these areas are leased back to the Australian Government as a national park and, thus, visitor access to this highly significant and iconic site is ensured. The chapter highlights that the contradictory discourses of tourism and Aboriginal culture, and the tensions between them, are exemplified in the popular tourist activity of climbing Uluru. Further, the contested usage of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park as a tourist destination reflects the tensions that are implicit in the joint management structure.
Tourism and National Parks: International Perspectives on Development, Histories and Change p. 128-140
Contemporary Geographies of Leisure, Tourism and Mobility