Google Australia is removing images on its Street View function that enable people to take a ‘virtual’ walk on Uluru.
The request has come from Parks Australia, which pointed out that the famous Northern Territory monolith is an Indigenous sacred site and that, since last year, people have not been permitted to climb it.
Street View is a popular Google feature that allows users to move around various locations and take a ‘virtual tour’ using the images that have been uploaded – sometimes by Google itself and sometimes by members of the public.
Images give 360-degree view of top
Various images show a 360-degree viewpoint of the top of Uluru, which then effectively permits people to get around the cultural ban.
Parks Australia said it had, “alerted Google Australia to the user-generated images from the Uluru summit that have been posted on their mapping platform”.
It had “requested that the content be immediately removed in accordance with the wishes of Anangu, Uluru’s traditional owners, and the national park’s Film and Photography Guidelines”.
Google understands Uluru is ‘sacred’
According to a report by ABC News, Google Australia said it was working on having all the images removed, including the user-generated content that allowed the walk-through.
“We understand Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is deeply sacred to the Anangu people,” a Google Australia spokesperson told the ABC.
“As soon as Parks Australia raised their concerns about this user contribution, we removed the imagery.”
Uluru climb was closed in 2019
Climbing Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, has been a popular tourist activity for decades. However, the climb was closed in 2019 at the request of the traditional owners.
The request was made due to the cultural significant of the site, with Anangu viewing people climbing it as being disrespectful. The traditional owners have also regularly voiced their concerns over safety – close to 40 people are believed to have died on the climb – as well as concerns over the environment.
The area, including Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta, was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985.