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People Are Pissed These Guys Climbed White Rock. Here’s Why.

“Ignorant and disrespectful” or just three guys enjoying the outdoors? The answer depends on whom you ask.

A photo of three men on top of White Rock near Ipswich in Queensland, Australia has created a lively debate online, because the site is sacred to the Ugarapul people—the traditional owners of the land. Should parts of the outdoors be off limits to nature lovers because of an area’s particular history, or is sacredness only in the eye of the beholder?

It’s a fine line to walk. For some, it’s upsetting when governments or institutions tell you where you can and cannot go on public lands. For many others, there are a lot of variables to consider when visiting an area, including the traditions and the cultures of people whose land various governments now govern.

Nature should be accessible to all, but without some rules and limitations, the people who make bad decisions will undoubtedly ruin it for the rest of us. The City of Ipswich, on its page dedicated to White Rock and the Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, says the estate remains sacred to the traditional owners of Ipswich.

“Some of the Cultural Landscapes within this estate include White Rock, the caves and outcrop overhangs,” the website says. “These sacred sites are very important to the Traditional Owners as they provide a link between Country and personal identity and allow the passing on of cultural knowledge. As per Cultural Protocol the Traditional Owners have requested no one climbs White Rock.” [emphasis added]

A Sacred Spot for Women

Signs dissuade visitors to the area from climbing the sacred rock, which has particular significance for women in Ugarapul culture. It may have once been a spot where women went to give birth.

However, not every hiker decides to heed the traditional owners’ “request” and the city’s signs. These three men didn’t, but their climb wasn’t without its consequences. Another person saw them up there on White Rock, took a video, and posted it to a local Facebook group, shaming the men for their decision and reportedly calling them “ignorant and disrespectful.”

What do you think? Were these men out of line?

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