Smack bang in the middle of the rugged Aussie wilderness you’ll find something unexpected: a beautiful new immersive art installation. Ally was lucky to experience the Light-Towers and is begging everyone to visit too – she reckons it might just change your life.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Luritja and Arrente peoples who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

I wasn’t prepared for my journey to the Northern Territory, The Red Centre, and the rugged heart of Australia.

I wasn’t prepared for the clingy flies who loved my nose and my mouth and any exposed hole they could try to fly into. I wasn’t prepared for the red dust that stains your white shoes and the hems of your pants.

But I also wasn’t prepared for the life-altering experience of being in the beating heart of Australia –  one of the last true patches of wilderness in this country – and perhaps even the world.

Time stands still in The Red Centre. In fact, time doesn’t exist. It feels like all that exists is the red dust, the mountainous rust-coloured ranges, the dingoes, the camels, Mother Earth, and you. You can’t help but feel a spiritual connection and kindred to the land.

I wasn’t fully prepared for how I’d feel being immersed in Bruce Munro’s new Light-Towers art installation at Watarrka / Kings Canyon. His vision, his passion, his love for this wild and precious land, its people and history is nothing short of beautiful.

Lights, Canyon, Action: Experiencing The Red Centre’s Newest Immersive Art Installation, ally burnie

I wasn’t prepared for feeling so small yet so important and connected to it all as I stood atop a 360 million year old rock on the Watarrka / Kings Canyon Rim Walk – and feeling even smaller as I saw it from up above in a helicopter.  

I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d fall in love with this country I call home. When people think of Australia, they think of Sydney, Melbourne, or maybe Canberra… and I did too.

But now when I think of home I’ll think of The Red Centre. I’ll think of the heat, the flies, the red dust, the stillness, the peace.

But let’s go back to the beginning of the journey, shall we?

I’m Definitely Not in the Inner West Anymore

Landing at Mparntwe / Alice Springs airport, it’s abundantly clear I’ve left the city life behind as we descend through the clouds and the distinct red dirt comes into view, along with the overseeing ridgelines of the Tjoritja / MacDonnell Ranges.

It’s about a 3.5 hour flight from Sydney. Easy peasy. What I wasn’t prepared for was a further five hour coach ride to reach Watarrka National Park and Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon where I was staying, and the home of Bruce Munro’s Light-Towers installation.


Lights, Canyon, Action: Experiencing The Red Centre’s Newest Immersive Art Installation, ally burnie

Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon in The Red Centre


It’s a straight 330km, which by car should take 3.5 hours. Not terrible, but it does become a whole day’s worth of travel – just something to be mindful of when planning your own Watarrka / Kings Canyon adventure.

With no phone reception, all I had were my thoughts, and all I could do as we zoomed 130km an hour down the Stuart Highway, was stare out the window at the vast view.

There’s not a lot to see except kilometres of orange dirt and sparsely dotted trees and shrubs – but it’s still so epically beautiful. As you arrive closer to Watarrka / Kings Canyon you’ll be treated to views of some awe-inspiring ranges in the distance (including one that you might think is Uluru, but it isn’t).

Arriving at the newly refurbished Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon around dusk, all that was left to do was shower, eat, and sleep in preparation for a 5am wake-up the next day to tackle the Watarrka / Kings Canyon Rim Walk.

So, how far to the nearest town?

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to stand on the edge of Watarrka / Kings Canyon, 100 metres above pockets of dense forest, ferns, and cycads. It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere yet the epicentre of everywhere at the same time.


Stunning formations found at Watarrka / Kings Canyon


But really, you kind of are in the middle of nowhere. Our hiking guide told us if you’re travelling to the West Coast, we’re 1,200km from the nearest major town. To put it into perspective, that’s further than Sydney to Brisbane.

The walk itself isn’t too hard, except for the initial 500-step climb to get you to the top of the canyon. After that, you really can peruse the track at your own leisure, stopping to admire the views and the 360 million year old fossils.

Sunrise or sunset is the best time to hike – both to beat the heat and witness the canyon gloriously change colour as the sun rises or sets over the horizon.

Lights, Canyon, Action: Experiencing The Red Centre’s Newest Immersive Art Installation, ally burnie

Pinch me!

69 Light-Towers in the Beating Heart of The Red Centre

The Northern Territory’s Watarrka National Park, home to Watarrka / Kings Canyon, covers a massive 710 square kilometres and has been home to the Luritja and Arrente peoples for more than 20,000 years.

And now it’s home to the newest immersive art installation by Bruce Munro. The only way to describe this spiritually encompassing and vast region is as the beating heart of Australia. In fact, this very description is why Bruce Munro decided to house his stunning Light-Towers installation in Watarrka / Kings Canyon, his second Red Centre work (following Field of Lights at Uluru).

Inspired by the book, Gifts of Unknown Things, by anthropologist Lyall Watson, the 69 towers represent Watson’s claim that the Earth has a heartbeat that pulses 69 times per day. With the Red Centre being the heart of Australia, Munro knew this was the perfect spot for his new installation.

The towers stand two metres tall and are made from 216 recycled glass bottles with solar-powered lights inside, and change colour in response to the music emanating from within them.


Lights, Canyon, Action: Experiencing The Red Centre’s Newest Immersive Art Installation, ally burnie

The Light-Towers as seen from above


In all honesty, art rarely moves me. I can appreciate art, but that’s all it ever is for me – an appreciation. Yet experiencing the Light-Towers was a different feeling that I find hard to capture in words.

Soulful, spiritual, and joyous come to mind but honestly, words alone aren’t enough – this installation needs to be seen to be felt.

While sunrise or sunset is the best time to witness the Light-Towers, we managed to catch them in a downpouring of rain. And yet, it didn’t dampen the experience – if anything, it only made it richer.


Lights, Canyon, Action: Experiencing The Red Centre’s Newest Immersive Art Installation, ally burnie, light installation, kings canyon, desert, desert lights


There’s something extraordinarily beautiful about rain in the desert, spiritual and cathartic; the red dirt hastily soaking up the water droplets and if you listen closely, you can almost hear Mother Earth saying payla (thank you in Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara language).

The Red Centre truly is a unique and astounding place and I’m telling you – no, begging you – to visit and experience the region (and the Light-Towers while it’s still there!) for yourself. It might just change your life.

How to Best Experience Kings Canyon in One Day

The Light-Towers are open for viewing for sunrise from 6:15am, at sunset from 5:40pm, or at night from 7:20pm every day. Make sure to book your time slot ahead of time!


Ally travelled to The Red Centre as a guest to Discovery Resorts so that she could try all of the experiences for herself. Discovery Resorts – Kings Canyon has undergone a $20 million transformation since being acquired by G’day Group in 2021, including the renovation of 128 deluxe and standard resort rooms