Three Australian tourists who spent 16 hours stranded at the top of Uluru while emergency services struggled through a difficult and windy rescue have pleaded guilty to walking on a Commonwealth reserve.
Martin Brook, Matthew Skelton and Lee Krinsberg wandered off a marked path on top of Uluru in September 2016 and became stuck in a steep-walled crevice until 3.30am.
Brook and Skelton appeared in Darwin Local Court on Tuesday, while Krinsberg appeared via telephone link from Adelaide.
Brook is a member of the Royal Australian Navy and told the court he aspired to join the Australian Federal Police.
“I am deeply sorry for my actions, [I] didn’t anticipate for this to happen and I accept that I’ve done something wrong,” Brook said.
In sentencing, Justice Greg Cavanagh said the men’s desire to take the photo that day was “self-indulgent, selfish and thoughtless”.
He said that “so long that people are self-indulgent, there was a need to send a message to visitors that their actions would be deterred”.
The three men, all aged in their twenties, were fined $4877.49 each under the Environmental Protection and Conservation Act and convictions were recorded.
Emergency services told the ABC at the time the vertical-rescue team faced treacherous conditions on the night of the rescue.
The request for tourists to respect Uluru’s cultural significance was solidified in November 2017, after the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board made a unanimous decision to ban all climbing from October 2019.
He told the court he and his friends veered off track in an attempt to take a photo and were confused when the white track disappeared and turned black.