JUNE 2023 ISSUE
Traveltalk’s JENNY ROWLAND was one of the lucky few invited to the Red Centre for the debut of a world-first Australian cultural show five years in the making. As she reports here, it was certainly worth the wait.
AS A kid growing up in England, my favourite day of the year wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, but rather the 5th of November: Guy Fawkes Night.
It’s a glorious time when the night sky is filled with fireworks, kids (and adults) play with sparklers and bonfires warm the cold autumnal air.
To me, that was the absolute best. That’s why I was incredibly thrilled to be invited to attend the global launch of Wintjiru Wiru in the scorching Red Centre of Australia.
Uluru doesn’t need any help in enhancing its majestic beauty. It puts on its own nightly light show that, as a first timer in the Northern Territory, completely mesmerised me.
But now add 1,100 drones, lasers and light projections to the mix and you become transfixed by the luminous, three-dimensional magical spirituality of this ancient culture – enthralled by the story it portrays.
This world-first storytelling experience is deeply rooted in the rich culture and history of the Aṉangu landowners.
It tells the tale of an ancient feud between the Mala people and the mulga-seed men, utilising state-of-the-art drone and laser technology.
Developed over five years and brought to life by the genius of Bruce Ramus, Founder and Director of Ramus Light Studio, Voyages Indigenous Tourism and the Aṉangu community, this spectacular show has become the ‘big ticket’ in the ‘Red Rock’.
Throughout the process, Ramus and Voyages worked closely with the Aṉangu people to ensure that Tjukurpa – their story, culture and identity – was observed, honoured and respected.
Tjukurpa, often referred to as the “dreamtime,” forms the foundation of Aṉangu life and society. As one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world, the Aṉangu people live their lives by Tjukurpa.
This show is a collaboration between Ramus and the main Aboriginal knowledge holders, also known as bush professors, which adds an extra touch of magic to the whole experience.
Members of the Aṉangu community expressed their deep honour and privilege to be part of a project that tells their story in the modern-day era.
“When you choreograph over 1,100 drones to tell a story that has been shared in the sand for more than 60,000 years and will now be showcased using cutting-edge technology for the world to see, it is crucial to us that we respect the culture at every step of the process,” said Matthew Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages.
This is the first time a light, laser and projection show of this magnitude has been presented on a regular basis anywhere in the world. I felt incredibly privileged to be one of the first people to witness, hear and FEEL it.
The Wintjiri Wiru experience, meaning “beautiful view out to the horizon” in the local Pitjantjatjara language, begins with a transfer from Ayers Rock Resort hotels to the open-air desert theatre, perched on a dune top with amazing views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
As an incredible sunset unfolds, guests can savour a gourmet hamper that celebrates native ingredients, including creamy crocodile pies, pepper beef and truffle burgers, and cocktails crafted with Beachtree organic koala gin. It’s the perfect appetiser before the main show.
As the sun sets and darkness falls, the temperature dramatically dips and the story unfolds in an explosion of light and colour.
The night sky resonates with the voices of the Aṉangu while the music of the desert rises from the ground and the mulga scrub in front, connecting the present to the past. It’s a spine-tingling spectacle that surpasses any Guy Fawkes party!
The signature experience will be the three-hour Wintjiri Wiru Sunset Dinner, where visitors can dine while watching the sunset over Uluru. The experience includes return hotel transfers and is priced at $385 per person.
Alternatively, viewers can opt for a second show called After Dark, which is a shorter, one-hour-long experience with light refreshments, priced at $190 per person.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at Sails in the Desert in the heart of the Red Centre, a property that has long been on my wish list and it didn’t disappoint.
Providing a perfect blend of modern comfort and indigenous culture, the luxurious rooms, friendly efficient service and amazing food all combined to make this property as unforgettable as its incredible surrounds.
Credit: As custodians of the land, Anangu hold the Mala story from Kaltukatjara to Uluru. To share their story from Kaltukatjara to Uluru, RAMUS designed and produced an artistic platform using drones, light and sound to create an immersive storytelling experience.