• Fri. May 19th, 2023

Indigenous Australian light show Wintjiri Wiru debuts in the Northern Territory with Uluru as its backdrop

In the centre of the Australian desert, a newly constructed viewing platform engraved with indigenous artwork by artist Christine Brumby stands tall on a dirt red sand dune.

Its backdrop features the stunning Uluru, a giant freestanding rock which holds the stories of its traditional owners the Anangu and cascades 348 metres high amid Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

As the sun slowly sets and the air begins to cool, the once blue sky fades into the colours of burnt orange and purple turning the iconic rock formation filled with ancient wisdom into a silhouette.

Wintjiri Wiru lights up Uluru

While its beauty itself is enough to enchant an audience, it’s what comes next that has tourists suddenly flocking to catch a glimpse of the spectacular piece of Australian history.

An airspace full of glittering stars and constellations sets the scene of a world-first indigenous drone show which brings to life a chapter of a sacred story from tjukurpa, also known as Dreamtime.

The state-of-the-art show Wintjiri Wiru, which translates to “beautiful view out of the horizon” in the local Anangu language, shares part of the Mala story from Kaltukatjara to Uluru.

In an indigenous storytelling experience like no other, the Mala story is told through more than 1100 RGB-lit drones and a number of lasers and projectors which beam onto the land’s foreground.

The saying “all the world’s a stage” quite literally comes into effect as the Anangu land transforms into an amphitheatre, accompanied by music and script spoken in the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages, with English translation.

Through such technology, the audience learns how an evil spirit was casted on the Mala people living near Uluru, after they declined an invite to attend a ceremony known as “inma”.

The spirit took many forms, both in the story and quite literally as drones painted the night sky, before morphing into a devil dog called Kurpany.

Luunpa, the kingfisher woman, was the first to spot the evil spirit and issued a warning however the community didn’t listen to her, prompting the dog to attack the Mala men.

Meanwhile, the Mala women remained unharmed with the kingfisher women destroying the evil spirit.

The story concludes with the line that these women are still living at Uluru today.

The breathtaking show is the brainchild of a partnership between Voyages indigenous Tourism Australia and the Anangu community.

After three years in the making, the fully immersive experience with a price tag of $10 million launched last Wednesday, and will run every night weather permitting until February.

Canadian-born and Melbourne-based light artist Bruce Ramus, who has worked on some of the world’s biggest light shows, helped engineer the event which sees the drones reach heights of up to 100 metres.

A team of pilots and technicians support the drones however the technology is mostly pre-programmed and follows coordinates to create the images in the sky during the show.

Members of the Anangu community said they felt honoured and privileged to be part of such a project which told their story in the modern-day era.

“When I saw the show, I was thinking of my grandfathers and others who have passed this story onto me, and it reminded me that I have this knowledge as well,” Christine Brumby said.

Meanwhile Rene Kulitja, another Anangu woman who spoke on behalf of the Anangu working group who assisted Voyagers in the project said Wintjiri Wiru was their gift to the world.

“People from every place have come to see Uluru. Now we want people to come and experience our story in a new way,” she said.

“We want visitors to know this is our story, to look and listen and feel with us. Our stories have been here since the beginning and we want to share this story with the world.”

As for Anangu woman Awalari Teamay, she said she couldn’t sleep the night after watching the show knowing it would become a phenomenon among both domestic and international tourists.

“When I heard the inma we recorded I was really proud and happy. I was thinking, this is us singing! We are singing our songs!” she said.

“Lots of people are coming to see the rock, to see our culture, our tjukurpa. This will always belong to us and we want to share it.”

Matthew Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages, added: “We are honoured we can share the cultural importance of the Mala story with our guests through such an illuminating and captivating experience in the spiritual heart of Australia”.

Tourists have two opportunities nightly to engage with Wintjiri Wiru, either through a three-hour sunset dinner or a one and a half-hour after-dark show.

Gourmet canapes, native-inspired cocktails and a selection of hot and cold meals will be available alongside paired wines as part of the sunset dinner option which comes with a price tag of $385 per person.

Return bus transfers to Ayers Rock Resort are also included in the package.

Meanwhile for $190 per person, guests can enjoy delicious wattleseed caramel popcorn and refreshing gelatos made of native ingredients at the after-dark show.

“When you choreograph over 1100 drones to tell a story that’s been told in the sand for more than 60,000 years and will now be told using cutting-edge technology for the world to see, it is important to us that we honour the culture in every step o the process,” Mr Cameron-Smith said.

Tourists can also immerse themselves in the Mala story via the Mala walk at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

More information on the show is available on the Ayers Rock Resort website.

This writer visited Ayers Rock Resort as a guest of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.