Outback Australia is experiencing something of a creative renaissance this year thanks to three exciting and moving new attractions that celebrate the language, music, art and stories of the Northern Territory’s Indigenous cultures.
At Uluru (Ayers Rock), one of Australia’s most iconic sites, a brand-new, state-of-the-art drone and laser-light show, Wintjiri Wiṟu, is launching in May.
Three years in the making by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, and created in consultation with the local Aṉangu community, Wintjiri Wiṟu showcases Aboriginal storytelling through 1000 choreographed drones illuminating the desert sky every night.
The display tells the Mala ancestral story, accompanied by narration in the local languages Pitjantjatjara (pronounced “pigeon-jarrah”) and Yankunytjatjara (“young-kun-jarrah”).
Visitors will also enjoy signature cocktails and canapés or a four-course Indigenous-inspired menu on the sunset amphitheater platform overlooking Uluru, all part of an opportunity to connect with country and culture.
Also in the Red Centre, a new immersive light-and-sound installation by the world-renowned British artist Bruce Munro is being unveiled at the Discovery Kings Canyon Resort near Watarrka National Park in April this year.
Bruce Munro’s previous installation, the critically acclaimed Field of Light at Uluru, opened in 2016, initially set to run until March 2017. It proved so popular with travelers, however, that the season was extended with permission of the local Aboriginal people, then extended again indefinitely.
Munro’s latest Australia-based project, Light-Towers consists of 69 two-meter towers that change color with the music emanating from within them, creating a magical soundscape in the desert. Light-Towers can be seen on the popular Red Centre Way road trip between Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka National Park and Alice Springs.
Also in April, in Alice Springs, the 10-night 2023 Parrtjima – A Festival in Light will showcase the world’s oldest continuous culture through the newest technology. This year's theme, “Listening with Heart,” is inspired by the Uluru Story.
Maruku artist Rene Kulitja takes visitors on a journey through ancient songlines and Indigenous perspectives of what Country means – the notions of learning to walk together and connecting – while exploring the First Peoples’ deep connection and philosophy of land, water and sky country.
Central Australia is hoping to lure travelers back this year with new experiences that make the most of its incredible beauty and exceptional hospitality. Prior to the pandemic, many in the region worried that unless you could “conquer the Rock” visitors would not want to go to Uluru. But after years of discussion, climbing the rock was officially banned in October 2019 – and even then only after the number of visitors climbing it had hit an all-time low of just 16% in 2017, paving the way for change.
To encourage tourists from clambering up the spiritually significant monolith, operators in the Northern Territory developed a host of alternative experiences to make a trip to the Red Centre equally memorable. This program was designed to align better with the spiritual significance of the place.
After the reopening of borders last year, over 400,000 visited Central Australia, with most international visitors hailing from the UK, the US, Germany, New Zealand and Italy. In 2023, there are now even more reasons to put Uluru and the Australian outback on your must-see list.
As Bruce Monro himself can attest, it’s a journey that stays with you for life.
A note about Wintjiri Wiṟu: 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.