05 November 2012

Uluru golf course proposal unlikely to sit well

A proposal to add a 28-hectare, 18-hole golf course just 10 kilometre from the sacred site of Uluru has been received by the federal government.

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A proposal to place a commercial golf course close to one of the most famous natural landmarks in the world is likely to stir debate.

The large rock formation in the heart of Australia's Red Centre is one of the country's most iconic attractions, the sandstone monolith rising out of the otherwise flat terrain is know for its ability to change colour during different times of the day.

Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock, is a sacred site to the Aboriginal people of the area and is fiercely protected as a World Heritage Site.

Thousands of tourists travel to region every year but its remoteness, lack of attractions nearby and plans to stop people from clibming the rock spell worrying times for Ayers Rock Resort.

"There is not much to do there in the eye of many tourists other than visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta [the Olgas rock formations], which for many of us shiould be enough, but we are talking here about the average tourist who is looking for things to do," said Koos Klein, managing director of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

The resort, which has been owned by the federal government since 2011, has recently added a spa centre, bush-tucker tours and a theatre but it is common perception that more needs to be done to draw more tourists to the region, and for longer.

The proposed golf course would be situated 10km east of Uluru on private land which does not contain any sacred sites and would cost up to AU$20 million (£13 million) to construct.

While the purpose of the golf course is understandable, it's unlikely to face anything less than fierce opposition. Uluru is one of the most iconic representations of Aboriginal Australia and is surrounded by flora and fauna endemic to the area which major construction could threaten.

While the federal government's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities is yet to state whether a full study is needed, preliminary reports show that hydrating such a project would be difficult while irrigated green patches could spoil the world famous view of Uluru.

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