The Ghan transformed with Aboriginal art and light installations

[by Vanessa Gregory]


Image: supplied

Tourism Northern Territory in collaboration with NT Major Events Company (NTMEC), Journey Beyond and AGB Events with the help of Aboriginal artist Chantelle Mulladad, Keringke Arts, have transformed The Ghan into a spectacular piece of moving art.


Three carriages of the world-famous train have been wrapped in Mulladad’s stunning design Crossroads, as it travels from Darwin to the Red Centre.


To complement the external wrap; a spectacular immersive light installation will light up inside one of The Ghan’s carriages, providing an engaging visual display and a taste of things to come at Parrtjima – A Festival in Light 2021.


Executive General Manager at Tourism NT, Tony Quarmby, said, “This project was designed to creatively integrate the Parrtjima festival into one of our unique Northern Territory holiday experiences that delivers on the Northern Territory’s promise of being different in every sense.


“It has been a really exciting project for us to bring to life; the juxtaposition of Chantelle Mulladad’s artwork on the train with the Red Centre’s vibrant colours as the backdrop creates a stunning visual as The Ghan travels through the Territory to Alice Springs, while the immersive experience on board The Ghan gives passengers a taste of what to expect at Parrtjima - A Festival in Light.”


Running from 9 to 18 April in Alice Springs, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light activates the desert landscape of Central Australia into a meeting place of old and new, where the festival utilises the latest technologies to showcase the oldest continuous culture on earth.


Northern Territory Major Events Company CEO Tim Watsford said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with Tourism NT and Journey Beyond on this exciting project that showcases Parrtjima – A Festival in Light to a national audience.


“Like the 2021 Parrtjima program and The Ghan journey, this distinct partnership is synonymous with quality, elegance and iconic experiences.


“Since the inaugural festival in 2016, Parrtjima has come of age as an event of national significance with thousands of interstate visitors expected to travel to the Red Centre for the 2021 instalment.


“Parrtjima is a must-do on the national calendar of events, and we are excited to welcome large numbers of visitors from across the country who will help support the Central Australia economy by spending money in the region.


“Parrtjima is the only authentic Aboriginal light festival of its kind, and we’re thrilled to be sharing the awe-inspiring magic of this iconic event with even more people across Australia this year.”


This epic reveal of The Ghan train wrap shows off the stunning design by Mulladad, from Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), a remote indigenous community 80km south-east of Alice Springs. Mulladad’s work is precise and detailed, using pattern, colour, shape and structure to create paintings that depict her sense of Country, culture and self.


Crossroads, is about travelling across country on a journey – which is significant and symbolic to the principles of The Ghan.


Crossroads has also been utilised in the internal treatment inside The Ghan carriage, an immersive creation which guests will get to experience as it travels through the Territory.


Peter Egglestone, Journey Beyond Chief Commercial Officer said, “Travelling on The Ghan provides a true appreciation for the breadth and diversity of the Northern Territory and allows travellers to learn and immerse themselves in the culture and stories of the regions we travel through.


“We take great pride in supporting local communities and curating unique experiences, and without hesitation, we were thrilled at the opportunity to support Parrtjima and collaborate for the event. We're excited to be involved and look forward to sharing this experience with our guests.”


Presented on The Ghan through an immersive in-carriage experience, is the 2019 Ranges Show; ‘The Language of Country - Angkentye Apmere-kenhe’, which celebrates the beauty, uniqueness and survival of the ancient landscape.


The voice of actor Aaron Pedersen, an Arrernte descendent, narrates a script written by Arrernte people, taking the audience on a stirring journey through Country, the kinship system and language.


The 2021 Ranges Show at Parrtjima will be an inspiring and enriching experience called ‘Spirit Kultcha’ - which for the first time is a collaboration with renowned Aboriginal electronic music duo ‘Electric Fields’.


Anthony Bastic CEO, AGB Events said, “We are always looking for new ways to expand the reach of the annual Parrtjima program. This year we are really excited to work with Tourism NT and the Ghan to provide a ‘taste of Parrtjima’ installation on the train.


“This is a new initiative and particularly significant given the Ghan’s importance to Central Australia. There’s also a great synergy with the artwork Crossroads by Chantelle Mulladad which we’ve utilised in this installation and also the Merging Kultcha installation at the Alice Springs Desert Park.


“In developing creative concepts like this it reminds us of the importance in connecting people. On this occasion, by involving the Ghan with Parrtjima, we’re highlighting pathways and moving forward which ties in with the ‘Future Kultcha’ theme for Parrtjima 2021. The Ghan connects people and Parrtjima connects people through light.”


Parrtjima provides an exceptional opportunity to not only learn about Aboriginal stories, culture and art but ensures the knowledge is kept relevant in the 21st century through newly developed mediums.


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