Stop the light show, says petition to Gunner


p2353-rock-wallabyBy ERWIN CHLANDA
A petition has been started on an international website to call off the “Parrtjima – A Festival in Light” which is planned to be projecting images over 2.5 km of the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs.
By this morning 633 signatures have been recorded. The petition is directed at Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
The site,, claims too be “the world’s platform for change” where “159,953,880 people are taking action”.
The petition says in part: “Mt. Gillen is home to some of the last colonies of the Federally protected Black Footed Rock Wallaby, Petrogale lateralis.
“The NT Government funded festival (23rd Sept to 3rd Oct) plans to blast cliffs where these special mammals live with lasers for a two week long light show in the name of somehow boosting tourism.
“No consideration has been given the impact of these possibly blinding lasers on the endangered animals.
“When stressed rock wallabies are known to abort foetuses and eject joeys from their pouch, meaning deaths could result. These animals have lived undisturbed on these cliffs for millennia – they should not be harmed for the sake of a frivolous festival.
“We ask the new NT Chief Minister to urgently act to prevent this happening and protect our vulnerable wildlife which is a far greater asset to the region’s tourism than an ill-concieved festival.”
The petition was started by local tour operator Mark Carter.
We are seeking comment from Tourism Central Australia and Mr Gunner.


  1. A question in my mind is whether it would be safe for anyone to be on the range when the light show is on.
    If it’s hazardous for humans, it’s likely to be the case for other animals – in which case, yes, this event should be cancelled.

  2. Hi Erwin,
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment on this. I’ve spoken with a few of the organisations involved, and they are currently looking into this issue. A few assumptions have been made in the petition that need investigation. So I’ll wait and see what the outcome of that is.
    Warm regards, Stephen.
    [Tourism Central Australia – ED]

  3. I started this petition out of sheer desperation. The tiny trickle of information made public by the organisers over the winter was extremely vague.
    When projecting lights onto the cliffs of Mt. Gillen was announced I was in disbelief – that entire cliff is a known refuge for the Federally protected Black-flanked (AKA Black-footed) Rock Wallaby.
    Any activity which could impact on the animals must by law go through an established legal process.
    This is national law which applies in every state and territory. My information from within the NT Government was that no such process had been followed. None. Nothing. Incredible huh?
    A powerful politician had taken a whimsical decision and hey presto, 2.5km of wildlife refuge is to be targeted with damaging light pollution and there was to be no stopping it.
    In normal circumstances I would pursue the matter through the official channels but by the time the secret plans for this light show were public it was clearly far too late for any of that.
    So I did the only thing I could think of to get this issue out there that was compatible with my extremely busy work schedule (I work outdoors usually far from the luxury of regular mobile signal): I started this petition.
    We have a terrible record on mammal extinctions in Australia and this animal has been wiped out from many parts of its past range.
    The animals we have left around Alice Springs are very precious, but this is not just a conservation issue – we have animal welfare laws in this country too.
    When explained to ordinary folk its utterly obvious that the planned venue is totally wrong and that serious risks to these animals are likely.
    The strength of light required to project images on cliffs from such a distance is immense. No information on the methods employed in this show has been provided but it stretches credibility to claim that light of such power will not harm animals in its path.
    At the end of the day we are talking about the laws of physics here.
    As Alex above mentions, is it safe for humans to be up there during the show? No? Well then why would it be safe for an animal with far more sensitive night vision than us?
    The science on eye damage from bright light is clear, the fatal effects of stress on Rock Wallabies is equally well known.
    The light show will operate from dusk till 10pm, exactly when the animals are most active engaging in grooming, feeding, mating and rearing young. This is obviously a massive risk to these animals’ welfare.
    Comments left on the petition by signatories are illuminating. People are shocked this was even considered.
    People are baffled that a tourism destination so reliant on the health and beauty of our landscape and wildlife could go ahead with this risky plan for such feeble reward.
    One epic irony is that the national conference of the Australian Mammal Society will be held in Alice Springs during this event.
    Hundreds of the country’s leading zoologists will be in Alice Springs, spending money, here to enjoy the wildlife and scenery.
    I’m told that a delegates’ visit to the Desert Park’s world famous Nocturnal Tour has been cancelled due to the overspill of light pollution making it impossible to run. How ridiculous do you think that makes our region look like?
    Is a one-off light show worth the risk? I and hundred of others say “no”.
    I call on the new Chief Minister to act quickly and fix a bungle of the previous administration. Hold the festival by all means but cancel the component that targets these precious animals on these ranges.

  4. The organisers say that its OK. They’ve done similar things at Taronga Zoo.
    This is a lie, Taronga Zoo, in the interests of animal safety, would not let them use lasers or shine their floodlights on the animals.
    The organisers also say they are not shining their lights on to Mt Gillen so not affecting that sacred site.
    What part of the Mountain that stretches from Honeymoon Gap to Heavitree is not Mt Gillen? The dog story is embodied in the range from Heavitree to the west. So that is also a Furphy. Stop this show!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here