Mount Warning: a clash between culture and tourism


mount warning
The view from Mount Warning summit. Photo: Kathryn Underwood.


Popular North Coast destination, Mount Warning, is proving grounds for debate amongst the local Aboriginal population and tourists.

Also known as ‘Wollumbin’, the mountain attracts over 100,000 visitors per year – an activity the local Bunjalung tribe begs to stop.

With the Commonwealth Games coming up on the Gold Coast, this could lead to a rise in tourism at ‘Wollumbin’ which is over the border in New South Wales.

Mount Warning has a great deal of cultural significance for the Bunjalung tribe who use it to host ceremonies.

The Bunjalung tribe believe it is a sacred meeting site and therefore women should not climb up the volcanic plug.

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The summit trail is an 8.8km round trip through a canopy of rainforest. Photo: Kathryn Underwood.


Despite being a popular site in Instagram and Facebook posts alike, ‘Wollumbin’ has seen a spike in tourists becoming more mindful of the areas aboriginal heritage.

Miss Philippia Walter, a trainee yoga teacher, recently lead a guided walk up to the summit.

Before the hike, her group sung a sacred mantra, which she described as a spiritual sound vibration.

“It is a humble gesture that we respect this world including all beauty and living entities which is present on Mt Warning”, said Miss Walter.

Mrs Kathryn Heggarty hiked up Mount Warning with Miss Walter’s yoga group.

She grew up in the Tweed region near ‘Wollumbin’ and explains why the mountain has become an important part of her identity.


Indigenous tours could be a potential solution to the tourism issue, according to a report published by Southern Cross University.

An indigenous tourism experience could attract visitors towards different aspects of the Wollumbin, potentially deterring visitors from climbing to the summit.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service believe a greater aboriginal involvement through storytelling could be one way of dealing with the present issue.

The trail has over 1,000 steps. Photo: Kathryn Underwood.


If you are interested in visiting the mountain, see the map below.  Click here for more visiting information.

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