eNewsletter | 1 | Itjanu 2010
Greetings from all the staff at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This is the first issue of our new quarterly e-newsletter - helping our partners, tourism contacts and visitors stay in touch with what's happening in the park. Please feel free to send this on through your networks, or people can subscribe by contacting us >>
It's going to be an exciting new year. Our staff are working hard on many projects that will improve and enhance our visitors' experience. Please let us know if there is anything in particular that you would like to know about for future editions. We would love to hear from you or catch up with you when you next visit.
Eventual closure of the climb
Environment Minister Peter Garrett has approved the new management plan for
Uluru-Kata Tjuta. The climb will eventually be replaced with new visitor experiences, but not until clear preconditions have been met.
The plan was prepared by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management and released as a draft in July last year. The Board has responded to public feedback by ensuring the climb will not be closed until at least one of the following conditions is met:
1. The number of people climbing must drop from the current 38 per cent to less than 20 per cent of visitors; or
2. The attraction of the climb is no longer the major reason why visitors travel to Uluru; or
3. A range of new experiences is in place for visitors.
The park will work closely with the tourism industry to develop a set of clear criteria on how these preconditions will be measured. The climb is likely to remain open for a number of years. The industry is guaranteed at least 18 months notice before the eventual closure so they have enough time to adjust their tour planning and marketing.
New visitor experiences in the works
Work is underway to develop a range of new visitor experiences at Uluru, in particular new Indigenous tourism activities. Two tourism heavy-weights - John Morse and Rick Murray - have been commissioned to work with local Indigenous communities and the industry to help get new businesses up and running. They are looking at new activities at night, new walks, cycling, new activities where people can connect with Aboriginal people and their culture - a range of proposals that will be put to the Board.
The park is interested in hearing proposals from commercial operators - email Christine.Burke@environment.gov.au.
As many of you know, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is implementing a new e-ticketing system for the payment of park use fees. This system will be available from April 2010 and will eventually replace the need for an entry station in the park. Look out for further information in the next e-newsletter. We will be discussing the rollout of the e-ticketing system with key industry reps over the coming weeks, to make sure we iron out any administrative glitches.
Removal of bulk ticket discount - 1 April 2010
We have delayed the abolition of bulk discounts (notified to the industry in 2008) from 1 January to 1 April 2010. This also matches up with the implementation of park use fees and an e-ticketing system for Kakadu National Park, allowing tour operators to make administrative changes to systems for both parks at the same time.
Severe storm hits the park
Staff and locals battened down the hatches just before Christmas as the park prepared to receive its worst storm in a decade. Ex-tropical cyclone Lawrence hit the park just before dark on 23 December, after it travelled thousands of kilometres inland. It brought torrential rain and winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour, uprooting trees and creating a wild night for visitors and residents! Waterfalls erupted and became thunderous torrents, dumping millions of litres of water into waterholes at the base and covering walking tracks knee deep in minutes.
The team has seen some comings and goings over spring and summer. We said goodbye to park manager Lara Musgrave, who has been replaced by Christine Burke. Christine spent years working in parks and cultural heritage management in Queensland, before stints in AusAID and environmental policy. She looks forward to meeting many of you as the year goes on! We also bid farewell to visitor services manager Chris Hannocks, who is headed north to work on Cape York. The team has been busy with the renovations at Headquarters, which are now complete, and the new park uniforms have been rolled out so staff are looking very smart in the new gear.
This new viewing area was officially opened on 8 October by Board Chair Harry Wilson and Environment Minister Peter Garrett, with special inma performed by
Anangu at a stunning sunrise ceremony. As many of you know, this new visitor destination offers spectacular views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta from an angle never seen before. The walks and interpretative signage at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku were designed in consultation with Anangu traditional owners and present an opportunity to increase visitor understanding and appreciation of Anangu culture and their desert knowledge.
The pathways at the Cultural Centre have been reconstructed, making visitor access easier and more defined. A new platform at the Wave Cave has been completed allowing visitors an excellent view of this area, as well as reducing visitor impacts to help protect this sensitive site.
The new Visitor Essentials guide in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian are being handed out at the entry station - the essential maps and safety and cultural information for visitors. The updated comprehensive Visitor Guide is now available for visitors at the Cultural Centre. Updated park notes are also available at the Cultural Centre. The range includes topics such as geology, flora, mammals, Anangu language, Tjukurpa, understanding the country and many more.
All of these brochures are available for download on our website >>
Tour operators workshop
The latest tour operators workshop was held on 28 to 30 October for 10 tour guides. The program included Anangu Tours Mala and Kuniya Walks, cultural presentations, a plant walk with local botanist Peter Fannin, a visit to the Mala Paddock, information seminars on park work sections, cultural demonstrations on crafts, tools and bush foods, and some fun activities such as spear throwing and billycan races.