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Lights making Uluru a bigger attraction

AAP logoAAP 11/08/2016 Joanne Williamson

The artist had a vision of bringing light to Uluru. The tourism executive was sold and together they made it happen, with exceptional results.

So far thousands of people have flocked to central Australia to see Bruce Munro's Field of Light, which opened in April for a year-long run at the foot of Ayers Rock.

"It is fantastic to see that the Field of Light has added vibrancy to an already special destination, with more people drawn to experience the magic of the spiritual heart of Australia," Ray Stone, executive general manager of Voyages, which runs the Ayers Rock Resort, said.

Stone had the idea to bring the Field of Light to Uluru after hearing an interview with Munro on local radio.

The public response since it opened on April 1 has been overwhelming, with bookings at the Ayers Rock Resort at record levels.

Munro has added 50,000 delicate frosted glass globes of different hues at the base of Uluru, where visitors can wander through the fields at dusk, night and dawn and watch the colours change against the rock.

Each time of day brings a different version of the spectacle.

My alarm went off at 4.30am and I was soon on the coach to the viewing platform where, happily, tea and coffee were waiting, for the dawn experience.

And it was there, in the very quiet of the early morning with a blanket of stars still shining down, that the magic of the field took hold.

The subtly-coloured lights, designed to enhance the colours of Uluru, twinkle back. But it's as the sun rises, with the arrival of the soft early morning light, that the whole field changes and takes on a new life.

We wander through the field, taking in a different aspect again of the artwork and how it interacts with the landscape.

The evening event gives us another experience altogether, as the sunset lights the field in new hues. This time wine and canapes are on hand at what could be the greatest art gallery of all time.

This - the magic of light together with the magic of Uluru - is what artist Bruce Munro wanted people to experience.

The idea started in 1992 when as a backpacker from England, the young Munro visited Uluru and left inspired to follow a career as an artist specialising in light.

He created his first Field of Light installation in 2004 for London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and has gone on to do other projects around the world.

He finally got to return to where it all started and show his appreciation for the spiritual centre of Australia in the most spectacular way, after the approach from Stone.

For Munro, it's not about trying to better Uluru, but about saying thank you "for giving me that idea and inspiration".

"It was that joyful feeling, which I recognised was something worthy to make art about and that really changed my life," he said of his first visit nearly 25 years ago.

He liaised with local Pitinjarra people early on.

"I didn't want anyone thinking I was coming in to push something onto a very special place. It is simply saying I was a kid and it inspired me so much this is what it made me do."

Getting from vision to reality took more than nine months of work, including six months in a studio designing and building the delicate light stems.

After they were carefully transported from England to Uluru, it took hundreds of people another six weeks to install them, but Munro was not worried.

"I'm a determined old bugger, I don't let go easily. I've always believed there is a way of doing things, if you have the will and the passion."

The hard work has paid off.

"We have been overwhelmed by both the immediate response after the launch and the ongoing level of inquiry and bookings for Bruce Munro's Field of Light," Stone said.

"The dining experience, Night of Field of Light, is proving to be extremely popular and is often sold-out in advance."

The Night of Field of Light, where guests can enjoy a three-course meal while watching the lights change, is just one of a number of ways visitors can view the work.

"I am going to be pinching myself for a while thinking that we actually took the Field of Light back to Uluru," said Munro.

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: Alice Springs Airport is serviced daily by flights from all Australian capitals. Uluru is approximately 450km from Alice, which equates to around four and a half hours driving time. Roads are sealed so no 4WD is needed.

STAYING THERE: Only 20km from Uluru, Ayers Rock Resort provides a variety of accommodation options and Uluru holiday deals - from the five-star Sails in the Desert Hotel to the Ayers Rock Campground.

PLAYING THERE: Passes for Field of Light start from $35 per adult for the night tour, where people can wander through the field, with bus transfers to the resort.

The A Night at Field of Light passes are $235 per adult, while the $75 Star Pass includes wine and canapes with a guide providing commentary.

The Sunrise pass includes tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Full details of Field of Light passes can be found at https://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/events/detail/field-of-light-uluru

The Field of Light ends on March 31.

* The author attended the Field of Light as a guest of Voyages Ayers Rock Resort.

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