Alice Springs presents A Festival in Light – Parrtjima (‘pronounced ‘par-chee-ma’), a dramatic light show that stretches 2.5kms on the MacDonnell Ranges. The naturalistic themed piece references the drama and power of natural landscape.
A Festival in Light is the first authentic indigenous festival of its kind ever held. This is dog story country and Parrtjima celebrates the different stories of this region through breathtaking display, sharing stories and culture all of which have been created by local artists.
The free event is held from September 23rd to October 2nd at the Desert Park in Alice Springs and to get to the actual Light Festival, you need to jump on the free shuttle. The shuttle stops at various locations around town and if you’re like me, you manage to get the first bus to then head straight on into the festival.
It’s still daylight as I arrive which gives me a chance to look around the stalls that are on offer; Indian food, waffles, home made mango sorbet, coffee, merchandise and a tourist information stall as well as Virgin Airlines stall (who are a major sponsor of the festival).
Once I’ve scoffed a few veggie samosas down the hatch, it’s just before 7pm (the signs say 7pm is the best time to witness the lights) to follow the plastic coated path for less than five minutes until I see a high lighting rig shaped like a four legged spider and loads of people were sitting on the benches nearby waiting, and after about fifteen minutes music sprang from the speakers followed by Indigenous artists voices telling us about their art which is projected under the lighting rig, amazing colours, it looks like a huge rug is laid out on the bare ground.
Green laser lights stream through the clear night sky as well as patterns emerging on the MacDonnell Ranges, with music also telling the stories. I watch in awe as the colours change on the ranges and the dramatic music continues.
The light show continues as I keep wandering along the path, to the Yeperenye Tales (caterpillars). Here I find a series of three large, light filled caterpillar installations featuring colourful illustrations by students from Amoonguna School in Alice Springs, based on their interpretation of the Yeperenye Dreamtime story. They look fantastic, blown up by air, they are definitely huge and bright in colour!
As I keep wandering I then come to an amazing series of five large, illuminated 1950’s style skirts, featuring the circular watercolour landscape paintings of five Alice Springs artists including Lenie Namatjira, Reinhold Inkamala, Ivy Pareroultja, Therese Ryder and Hubert Pareroultja. This installation series is breathtaking to see, the soft colours on fabric really come to life before my eyes and I can’t help but find these installations magical.
From here it’s a case of wandering around on and off the paths, finding a seat and taking in the wonder of the light show on the ranges. There is also an interactive booth where you can press the buttons, under supervision of course, and control the lights yourself, a big hit with the many kids present tonight. Don’t forget to look up past the light show and gaze at the astounding array of stars present out here, it’ll make you feel like staying a few extra nights!
It’ll take you about 45 minutes to wander around, add another half hour to grab a bite to eat as well as the shuttle journey which can take half an hour, so you’d best allow a couple of hours all up.
Where do you start? Register your name at parrtjimaaustralia.com.au and from there you’ll find all the information you require.
The event organised acknowledge and thank the local indigenous groups who have respectfully brought Parrtjima to life – Arrente Elders and Leaders, custodians and traditional owners of Mparntwe.