Born 1971 in Darwin, a descendant of the Alawa clan from the Roper River region of the Northern Territory. Desley grew up on King Island, off the coast of Tasmania. She began dancing in Sydney with the Redfern Dance Theatre in 1991, taking part in the first Black Vine celebration of indigenous dance and music. Two years later she was accepted by NAISDA College and as she studied, she performed in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In 1999, the year after she graduated, Desley joined Bangarra Dance Theatre for its tour of the Dreaming to the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. She also danced in Minymaku Inma, choreographed by Frances Rings for Dance Clan 2.
Desley appeared in Tubowgule, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Arts Festival, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, also dancing in Bangarra’s Skin in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.