02 Dec 2020
The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) will be closing access to Alhekulyele (Mt Gillen) from 1 March 2021 at the request of Traditional Custodians and concerns for public safety on the unmaintained trail.
Through ongoing consultations with the Department and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA), Mparntwe custodians have made it clear that their preferred course of action is to close access to the trail permanently.
The traditional site name is Alhekulyele and it is a major Akngwelye (Dog) sacred site. This is a very dangerous and important site and deeper parts of the story are known only to senior Mparntwe custodians.
The walk is an unauthorised trail starting adjacent to Flynn’s Grave and traversing the slope of Mount Gillen up to the summit trig point.
Quotes by DEPWS Senior Director Parks and Wildlife Operations, Chris Day.
“We understand the Mt Gillen climb is a popular activity, however the Department respects and supports the wishes of the Traditional Custodians to stop access to protect sacred sites and for cultural sensitivity.”
“The trail is not an authorised walking trail and therefore is not maintained, which is also creating issues with erosion creating safety and environmental concerns.
“The Department has a strong relationship with the Traditional Custodians and after many years working to explore alternative, safe routes, it has been decided that closing access is the only option.
“Out of respect for the Traditional Custodians, signage has been installed requesting that the public no longer use this sacred site for recreational purposes. Access will be closed from 1 March 2021.”
Quotes by Traditional Custodian and spokesperson, Benedict Stevens
“This site is central to Ayeye Akngwelye Mpartnwe-arenyethe - Dog Story of Alice Springs.”
“The climbing track never should have been there, and the old people have asked for a long time for it to be closed.
“We share this place. We want to keep the people and the sites safe.
“It is important to respect the sacred sites, and we are pleased Parks is now asking people to stop climbing this way.”
Quotes by Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority Board Chairman, Mr Bobby Nunggumarjbarr.
“The sacred site Alhekulyele is very important to custodians in the Alice Springs region.”
“The Authority supports the decision by Parks and custodians to restrict access to that site for safety and cultural reasons.”
Media contact: DEPWS Media Manager 0476 844 832