Luxury Escapes’ Senior Video Editor, Jalil James, takes the journey of a lifetime to Uluru and Kings Canyon – and captures every spectacular moment with GoPro.
For a cinematographer, there aren’t many places that inspire creativity quite like the natural wonders of the Northern Territory. That fiery earth against blue sky, the pigmented ochre paints of traditional cave paintings, century-carved canyons and gorges, and the living, breathing history of Uluru and Kata Tjuta: its otherworldly landscapes feel like the centre of infinity.
From the ethereal Field of Light at Uluru, to a helicopter flight over Kings Canyon, here’s how three unforgettable days unfolded.
Day 1: Uluru tour, Wintjiri Wiru sunset dinner and Field of Light
As we made the descent into Ayers Rock Airport, I was struck by how unexpectedly green the landscape was due to the recent rains: my first glimpse of red earth was as we hit the runway. Upon landing, we headed to Sails in the Desert, a luxury resort that is like an oasis amid the Outback. Soon, it was time for our first taste of the majestic Uluru with a drive around its perimeter. As a city boy, I felt a deep reverence for our guide, Joanne Cooley: the daughter of renowned Aboriginal artists and carvers Billy and Lulu Cooley from the Mutitjulu community, she is well-versed in Uluru’s rich history, regaling us with tales of the way the people are connected to the land.
As darkness fell, we headed off for our Wintjiri Wiru sunset dinner and open-air desert theatre experience under a full moon. As the night sky turned to an inky black, and perfect stillness and silence enveloped us like a comforting blanket, the Mala story was brought to life before our eyes. This epic show, five years in the making, involves choreographed drones, lasers and projections, which light up the desert sky in a modern, artistic expression of an ancient Anangu story.
The magic continued as the Field of Light illuminated. This critically-acclaimed installation, masterminded by celebrated artist Bruce Munro, is vast in its scope – 50,000 spindles of coloured light illuminate the desert floor, covering the equivalent of seven football fields. This blanket of stars breathes in unity with the land, gently changing from ochre to violet, blue and soft white.
Day 2: Mala walk and Kings Canyon helicopter flight
The next morning, we woke at 5am to do our sunrise Mala walk. It had rained recently, so there was a lot of moisture in the air and fog blanketing the land – signalling the beginning of yet another once-in-a-lifetime event in the Red Centre. In what can only be described as a moment of pure magic, the sun rose slowly over Uluru, casting different shades across the rock face as the fog dissipated.
After the majesty of that sight, we started our three-hour drive to Kings Canyon. Being out in the middle of nowhere gives you a unique sense how huge Australia is as a land – something I know I take for granted living my city life.
After we dropped our bags at Kings Canyon Resort, we boarded the aircraft for our scenic flight with Professional Helicopter Services. This is one of the most spectacular ways to experience the scale and majesty of the canyon: with a bird’s-eye view, experiencing areas that are not reachable via ground tour. An incredible 440 million years of history lies here, where the 300-metre-high walls of the gorge cascade down to the leafy green Garden of Eden rock hole.
That night, back at Sails, we witnessed the Light-Towers experience under the golden glow of sunset. Another visionary installation by Bruce Munro, Light-Towers invites viewers to contemplate the mystery and magic of Australia’s Red Centre through an immersive light show accompanied by the music of British composer Orlando Gough. The maze came to life before our eyes: 69 solar-powered towers of light created a glittering spectacle, that somehow made the landscape even more captivating than I could have ever imagined.
Day 3: Rim Walk hike
We checked out early morning to make the hike up Kings Canyon’s spellbinding Rim Walk. The start of the track is the most difficult, with around 500 steep steps to climb (I was not prepared, I can tell you) – but once you are up there, it is one of the most magical experiences of your life. Seeing the sun rise behind the mountain ranges was nothing short of awe-inspiring and it really made me love Australia even more. There are so many hidden gems and places waiting to be discovered and seen with the eye.
This was the ideal moment to test the capabilities of the GoPro HERO11 Black Mini. A smaller, lighter version of the HERO11 Black, it has a simple, one-button control, with a 360-degree Horizon Lock to keep footage steady and a HyperView digital lens with the widest 16:9 shot ever delivered in a HERO camera. You can also switch through different lenses on the spot, which is a complete game-changer as a filmmaker. It couldn't be easier to create content on the go, as you have extensive editing capabilities at your fingertips through the GoPro Quik App – and can control it completely through your phone screen, too. It's the perfect tool for capturing this epic landscape on film.
As someone who has always enjoyed the comforts of modern life, it was truly inspirational to travel to this enchanting place. I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to return to the centre of infinity.
Film captured on GoPro. Feature image courtesy of GoPro.
This partnership with Tourism NT, using images and film captured on GoPro, has been created to showcase Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park World Heritage, cultural and environmental values.
Ready to discover the magic? Check out our Northern Territory collection here.
For more inspiration, see Ultimate Australia Bucket List Escapes.