The 1992 Variety Bash - a second invasion?
competing constructions of Uluru National Park

  • Katherine Mary Haines

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    Historically, the competing discourses of tourism, environmentalism and Aboriginality have been reconciled within a primarily capitalist development ideology in the construction of Uluru (Ayers Rock-Mt Olga) National Park. By this construction, the interests of Aboriginal people were constrained by the interests of tourism and a dichotomised perception of the humans and the environment.

    Since hand back of Uluru National Park to Anangu, its Traditional Owners, in 1985, after amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, there has been a competing construction of the Park at the federal level. This recent configuration of discourses, alternately, attempts to constrain tourism within the cultural and environmental values of the Park, as constituted through its construction in federal legislative discourse. This recent construction is supported by an ideology that elevates issues of social justice and cultural equality. Consequently, Anangu are now in a position to seriously negotiate the manner in which tourism impacts upon their lives.

    However, despite this elevation of environmental and Aboriginal discourses, the sheer momentum of the tourist industry means that the discourse of tourism remains powerful within constructions of the Park by some sections of the broader Australian community. This paper investigates the manner in which these constructions show continuities with previous constructions throughout the Park's history.

    In doing this, -this paper takes a case study approach to the Variety Bash confrontation with Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) officers at Uluru National Park in September 1992. Considerable resistance was received from both Variety Bash organisers and participants, and the Northern Territory (NT) Government, to the ANPWS decision to prohibit the Variety Bash event within the Park. The event was considered nconsistent with the Park's cultural and environmental values.

    This paper deconstructs the ideological constraints under which Bash participants and the NT Government were operating in their 'reading' of the Park's current federal legislative construction, as a means to better understanding how Aboriginal discourses are being read by some sections of Australian society. In particular, the manner in which some non-Aboriginal Australians appear to strongly resist the subject positions constructed for them within and by the new and emergent Aboriginal discourses, will be explored.

    Date of Award1992
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChristine Walton (Supervisor)

    Cite this