Uluru 'Field of Light' installation by Bruce Munro: Australia's heart lights up

After an already-extended season and more than 200,000 visitors, Uluru's spectacular installation has now been extended through to the end of 2020.

It's 5am in the Northern Territory and I'm officially lost, stumbling over large clumps of grass in the reddest sand you'll ever see, vivid even before light breaks in the morning.

I can't tell where the colourful stems of light before me begin and the Milky Way in the sky above ends.

A jet engine above breaks the deafening silence that surrounds me and I'm reminded of the first time I saw the rock; my first overseas flight to Bali en route to London.

I remember thinking to myself - now I can say I've seen Uluru. And that's the biggest mistake most Australians make.

I'm with a group of well-travelled Australians who have made the journey out to get a sneak peek of artist Bruce Munro's Field of Light exhibition and for most of us, this is the first time we've been to the Northern Territory, let alone visited what is arguably Australia's most iconic landmark.

Munro, a British-born artist enraptured by the colours of the Australian landscape, hopes his exhibition will inspire people to visit Uluru, as it inspired him to become an artist 24 years previous.

Munro made the journey to Uluru with his partner in a $1500 Toyota Corona, a swan song after living in Australia for eight years.

He was told it was one thing he had to do while he was in Australia, by Australian friends who hadn't yet seen the rock for themselves.


It was here his Field of Light creation came to him, and he noted the idea down in his sketchbook, never thinking for a second it would become reality.

Now his expansive, light-based installations have become renowned the world over.

Composed of 50,000 stems that hold different shades of coloured light, the installation covers 49,000 square metres. But the numbers mean little once you're immersed inside,giving the impression the lights stretch on towards Uluru, around five kilometres away.

It took 40 people six weeks to plant the stems of light, which were transported by Qantas without breaking a single piece - unlike in Edinburgh, where a hapless snoozer crushed part of the installation.

The airline carried an extra 10,000 stems 'just in case'.

This is the first time the installation is solar, and the colours chosen are a palette sympathetic to the raw colours of the surrounding desert, stunning in the evening shades of sunset, but even more breathtaking at sunrise.

"It took me years to get Australian light," Munro explains. "You won't see colours that rich anywhere in the world."

For Munro, one of the most important aspects of his piece is the acknowledgement of the traditional landowners, the Anangu people. "We are all very privileged to be allowed to share this land and experience it for ourselves, " he said.

"They have called it the 'field of beautiful light'.

"Maybe I have to change the name now because this to me is very important."

Bruce Munro's Field of Light opened to the public on April 1 2016. Originally intended to close after one year, the installation will now remain open until December 31 2020. See voyages.com.au. Jetstar flies to Uluru from Melbourne four times a week, and from Sydney once a day. See jetstar.com

The writer was a guest of Voyages and Qantas.

See also: 20 reasons to visit Uluru

See also: The other rock tourists mistake for Uluru