Cutting-edge drone technology brings ancient Indigenous story to life at Uluru
Wintjiri Wiru is the world's largest ongoing drone display with more than 1,100 drones per show
10 May 2023
Three years in the making and with an investment in excess of AUD$10 million, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia has brought ancient storytelling to life using state-of-the-art technology to create Wintjiri Wiru, a fully-immersive light and sound experience with Uluru at its backdrop.
With two shows per night from 10 May, more than 1,100 drones will take to the skies to depict a chapter of the ancient Mala story from Kaltukatjara to Uluru. This will be the first time an Indigenous story has been told through the medium of lights, lasers, projection and drone technology at this scale and frequency, and performed on a regular basis anywhere in the world.
Wintjiri Wiru - which suggests a 'beautiful view out to the horizon' in the local Anangu language - will illuminate Australia's Central Desert shining on the spinifex and mulga, connecting the earth and sky to offer an expansive experience of light and sound.
The technology and design for the experience comes from world-renowned media architecture studio RAMUS, based in Melbourne and headed up by Canadian-born light artist Bruce Ramus.
Working with Voyages over a period of three years from inception to completion, RAMUS developed complex imagery and animation that have not been achieved before.
RAMUS has worked on show lighting for some of the world's biggest music shows and architectural illuminated urban illustrations, however this is the first time the team have worked in such remote surroundings as Uluru.
Weighing 310 grams each - roughly the same weight as two cricket balls - the Nova flow drones are controlled in formations of two fleets. The drones can fly three metres per second and for the story telling of Wintjiri Wiru, will reach 100 metres in height.
More than 1,100 drones will take to the skies during every performance, around 400 drones in the first fleet and 800 in the second - with each fleet in the air for approximately nine minutes.
The drones will fly over an area of approximately 750 metres wide by four to five kilometres deep by 100 metres high.
There are six x 30w lasers, seven x 12kw projectors and around 30 bright field lights, as well as a host of lights within the ampitheatre. These are used to support the story and add accents to the drone imagery. They play a big part in the dynamic range of the show, able to convey a subtlety when needed, or a powerful movement and speed that supports the drones' slower pace.
The audio is a surround-sound system with the audio tracks spatialised within the platform where the audience sits, which contributes to the immersive experience.
This will enhance the stirring background music and the narration which is in the local Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara language with an English aural translation.
The sound of the drones will be inaudible during the show.
How does it work?
A team of drone pilots and visual observers support the drones, preparing them before each show, keeping an eye on every performance, while an audiovisual technician oversees the laser, sound and projection timings.
The drones take off from the purpose-built drone platform. They are housed in bespoke containers, each container housing six drones and able to recharge them after each show. The containers also protect the drones from the harsh outback conditions.
Consultation with Anangu
To bring the Mala story to life on such an impressive and visual scale, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia has been in continuous consultation with Anangu who hold the Mala story from Kaltukatjara to Uluru.
Rene Kulitja, on behalf of the Anangu Consultation Committee, said: "People from every place have come to see Uluru. Now we want people to come and experience our story in a new way. 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."
Matthew Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages, said: "When you choreograph over 1,100 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 of the process."
For more information go to: www.ayersrockresort.com.au or call 1300 134 044.
About the show:
Two Wintjiri Wiru sound and light shows will run every night, from May until December each year, with one show a night operating in January and February.
Native Australian produce and Indigenous foods are the heroes of the culinary experience of Wintjiri Wiru. From lemon aspen and wattleseeds to quandong, warrigal greens and lemon myrtle - the menu for Wintjiri Wiru is an authentic celebration of native Australian ingredients combined with modern culinary techniques that match the exciting drama of the new experience.
Gourmet canapes and cocktails will be served at the three hour Sunset Dinner performance followed by a selection of hot and cold native inspired dishes paired with premium Australian wines. The Wintjiri Wiru Sunset Dinner experience includes return resort transfers and is priced at $385pp.
A second show each evening called After Dark is a shorter, one-hour long experience including light refreshments followed by the show. After Dark costs $190pp.
About Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia:
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) established to undertake tourism business on its behalf. Voyages offers unique experiences and cultural immersion in spectacular locations around Australia including Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory and the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre in Tropical North Queensland. Voyages works closely with local communities, respecting and supporting Indigenous culture and offering employment, training and business development opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
RAMUS studio is led by Canadian-born light artist Bruce Ramus who has spent decades designing and producing light spectaculars around the world. Based in Melbourne, Australia Bruce has assembled a multi-disciplinary team to conceive and deliver permanent and temporary light artworks for commercial and government property developments, sports and entertainment, local council, retail and tourism.
For further information:
Images are available at: https://voyages.mediavalet.com/portals/wintjiri-wiru-media