A famed natural landmark in Australia — and one of the country’s top tourist destinations — is closing to tourists.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has decided to close Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, off to climbers permanently, National Geographic reports. The unanimous vote by the park’s board rights “a historic wrong,” according to the Central Land Council, which represents Aboriginal people in central Australia.
The move is the culmination of decades of advocacy work by the rock’s Aboriginal owners, who have been in the region for thousands of years. The local Anangu people consider Uluru a sacred space with powerful, intimate links to their ancestors, whose spirits are believed to still reside at the rock.
But Uluru has not always been treated with the appropriate respect and care. Locals and park officials tell National Geographic there have been repeated reports of people littering, stripping, and defecating on the rock, along with instances of visitors taking pieces of the rock with them as souvenirs of their trip.
Over the years, Uluru has become a popular site for tourists — gorgeous sunsets and the massive sandstone monolith’s striking red tones make Uluru and the surrounding area an especially photogenic spot.
Although Uluru is closing to climbers, there will still be sunrise and sunset areas for peak photo opportunities. As further alternatives, visitors to Uluru can go cycling, skydiving, or camel riding on the park grounds.
The rock will be permanently closed to climbers on October 26.