Popular climb could soon be off limits
Mt Warning could become the country's next Uluru as speculation grows that the iconic climb may never reopen to the public.
Mt Warning, also known as Wollumbin, has been closed since March over concerns surrounding crowd limits on the summit during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, while the Tweed Valley tourist magnet was originally expected to reopen next May following restoration works, the National Parks and Wildlife Service yesterday shied away from that statement, instead saying only that the closure would be "reviewed" at that time.
Wollumbin's future has been fiercely debated since climbers were ordered off Uluru last year to appease Aboriginal groups, with Mt Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast also coming under the spotlight.
The Tweed's Bundjalung people have long viewed Wollumbin as a sacred place while the National Parks website asks visitors to avoid climbing the summit out of respect for Aboriginal elders.
However, until this year's COVID-enforced shutdown, the mountain has remained a world-famous tourist attraction as the first place in Australia to catch the day's sunrise.
It became so popular as a New Year's Day tourist attraction that a ballot system was once introduced to limit the number of climbers while it has created a niche tourism industry of accommodation providers, cafes and gift shops nestled in the shadow of the mountain.
Rumours have been swirling through the Tweed that the summit climb will be permanently closed, a claim National Parks yesterday did not shut down.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the National Parks and Wildlife Service said the extended closure was to assess safety concerns including landslide, rock fall and failure of the chain section of the track.
However, they did not confirm whether the track would ever reopen.
"NPWS will now consider the future of the summit track, in consultation with key community and tourism stakeholders, including local Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders," she said.
"The closure will be reviewed in May 2021.
"NPWS understands that locals and visitors may be disappointed by the extended closure however our main priority is to ensure the safety of visitors and staff."
The mountain trail has been the scene of almost 50 "significant" safety incidents in the past decade including two deaths.
Attempts to contact elders from the Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council yesterday were unsuccessful.
Further north, elders of the Jinibara people on the Sunshine Coast have been locked in a two-decade-long fight with the Queensland government to stop climbing of Mt Beerwah, which they considered the "mother" of the Glasshouse Mountains.
Originally published as Popular climb could soon be off limits