While darkness falls over the spiritual heart of Australia each night, an ancient tale is taking flight as one of the country’s oldest stories is retold in one of the newest ways possible.
Meaning ‘beautiful view out to the horizon’ in the local Pitjantjatjara language, Wintjiri Wiru by Ayers Rock Resort is a dramatic desert light show during which over 1,100 drones dazzle guests seated in front of one of the greatest backdrops in the whole of Australia. I’m talking about Uluru.
Merging out of the red dirt is the 550-million-year-old mysterious monolith that’s been drawing tourists to the Red Centre since the 1950s to visit the sacred site and hear from the traditional custodians of the land. But now, it is ground-breaking technology that is doing the talking in a world-first for Indigenous tourism.
Bringing to life a chapter of the ancestral Mala story, from Kaltukatjara to Uluru, Wintjiri Wiru is touted as a ‘breathtaking cultural storytelling experience.’ It’s also the first time an Indigenous story has been told through the medium of lights, lasers, and choreographed drones at this scale and frequency, and performed on a regular basis anywhere in the world. It’s a performance that not only illuminates the night sky but passes on a story that’s been passed on for thousands of generations through the Anangu people. And now it’s being passed on to you.
The trickiest part will be picking which Wintjiri Wiru experience to book because just three months after launching the show to end all drone shows in May this year, Ayers Rock Resort added a third experience to choose from.
Wintjiri Wiru Sunset Dinner, $385 (3 hours)
Picture this: A gentle evening stroll through the desert to an open-air theatre where you’ll be greeted with delicious cocktails, spectacular sunset views, and a gourmet dinner hamper all before showtime.
Wintjiri Wiru Twilight, $190 (1.5 hours)
Say it with me now: Aussie wines, delicious cheese, and dessert selections. Enjoy the best the Northern Territory has to offer while marveling at the beauty of Uluru’s sacred silhouette at dusk ahead of the immersive storytelling experience.
Wintjiri Wiru After Dark, $190 (1.5 hours)
Feel the powerful connection to the country as you witness the 20-minute light show set to a traditional Inma soundtrack and narration in the local Pitjantjatjara language under a starry sky, all while nibbling on that cheese and dessert platter.
Get kicking that bucket list. While the magic of Wintjiri Wiru will no doubt blow your socks off, it’s just the cherry on top of a bucket list of life-changing and jaw-dropping experiences on offer at Ayers Rock Resort. So, with more than 101 things to do, get ready for your world to be rocked.
Astro Tour, $60
What’s more extraordinary than a 1,100-drone show? How about a journey through the southern night sky? Join this stargazing tour and let Ayers Rock Resorts’ guides take you through the evolution of the universe. Questions are encouraged!
Sounds of Silence, $258
Find me a better dining experience. I’ll wait. Because not only does this event promise to be an evening you’ll never forget, but it’s been officially entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame. Kicking off with canapés and chilled sparkling wine overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the sound of a didgeridoo will form the soundtrack to a night of freshly prepared, bush tucker-inspired cuisine incorporating native bush ingredients.
Field of Light, $46
Still hooked on flashing lights in the desert? Us too. Well, look no further because the Field of Light Uluru by international hotshot artist Bruce Munro has been extended indefinitely. Aptly named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku, which in the local Pitjantjatjara means ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights,’ the piece could cover more than seven football fields and consists of 50,000 spindles of light, illuminating the desert in a gentle rhythm of colour as far as the eye can see.
Tali Wiru, $420
Overwhelm your palate with a world-class gastronomic adventure your stomach won’t forget anytime soon. The Tali Wiru, which means ‘beautiful dune’ in the local Anangu language, dreams up fine dining under the Southern Desert sky with a four-course dinner infused with ancient native ingredients. It isn’t just a meal paired with premium Aussie wines. It’s ‘a moment in time remembered forever.’
Fly Uluru Plane and Helicopter Tours, from $160
Think Uluru looks bloody good from the ground up? Try getting above it and then tell us what you really think! Hitching a ride in a plane or chopper over one of Australia’s greatest landscapes, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Lake Amadeus, and Kings Canyon, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’ll leave you gobsmacked and lost for words.
Bush Food Experience, Didgeridoo Workshop & Bush Yarns, Free
If freebies are more your thing, look no further because there is plenty on offer in the Red Centre! From feasting on the freshest of flavours during a bush food experience, to learning the enchanting sounds of the didgeridoo, and sitting back to listen to local legends and lore, the options on offer are more than enough to tickle tourists’ taste buds.
Camel Farm, Free
Why yes, this free experience does deserve its own heading because is there anything more quintessentially outback than camels? Uluru Camel Tours is Australia’s largest camel farm, and for no cost, visitors can come in and meet the family for cuddles. Plus, they’ll get to hear the incredible stories of some of Australia’s greatest and bravest explorers, pioneers, ANZAC cameleers, and their Aboriginal guides.
But the buck doesn’t stop there for Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which has a strong commitment to social and ecological responsibility, and cultural sustainability. Visitors will be excited to learn that their stay at Ayers Rock Resort drives real change with profits raised reinvested into Indigenous training and development programs around the country.
For more info and to check Uluru off your bucket list, visit ayersrockresort.com.au.