Uluru-climbing teddy bear sparks Aboriginal outrage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 12:00am

A popular children's book about a teddy bear called Bromley who climbs Uluru has incensed Aborigines and re-ignited the debate over who controls Australia's most iconic natural feature.

Aborigines living around the base of Uluru - formerly Ayers Rock - say the book is deeply insulting to their traditions and should be either withdrawn from sale or rewritten, omitting any reference to climbing the rock.

But the authors, Alan and Patricia Campbell, argue that they wrote Bromley Climbs Uluru long before the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing the commercial exploitation of Uluru.

The Campbells wrote the book after visiting Uluru in 1986. They climbed to the top of the rock and took a photograph of Bromley the bear wearing a wide-brimmed hat with corks, with a length of rope slung over his shoulder.

The book, one of a series of seven featuring Bromley, was a hit with children and has sold more than 40,000 copies.

Mr Campbell now wants to have it reprinted, but faces a fine of up to A$55,000 (HK$263,900) under recently strengthened federal laws protecting Uluru.

He has accused the local Anangu tribe and Parks Australia - the government agency that manages Uluru - of taking political correctness to extremes.

Brooke Watson, the manager of Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park, hopes the dispute can be settled without resorting to court action.

He said: 'I'm still hoping Mr Campbell will rewrite the book and call it Bromley Visits Uluru and has a Cultural Experience.'