Seattle | Published on 14th February 2018 at 15:56

Qantas has today unveiled a special livery honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians on its latest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The new livery features the work of the late Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye*. It is based on her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming and has been adapted for the aircraft by leading Indigenous owned design studio Balarinji.

The artwork depicts the culturally significant yam plant, an important symbol in Emily’s Dreaming stories and a staple food source in her home region of Utopia, 230km north-east of Alice Springs. The aircraft itself will be named Emily Kame Kngwarreye in tribute to the artist.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the striking artwork is intended to encourage more people to explore the Indigenous elements that form part of ‘the Spirit of Australia’.

“As the national carrier we’re thrilled to showcase another piece of Indigenous culture on one of our aircraft, and to reiterate our ongoing commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It’s a beautiful, bold artwork and so we hope it catches people’s eye and sparks a conversation about our country’s dynamic Indigenous culture,” said Mr. Joyce.

For only the second time in Qantas’ history the iconic flying kangaroo on the aircraft has been changed to form part of the design, with the airline’s trademark red tail colour altered to match the earthy red tones and white dots of Emily’s artwork.

Managing Director of Balarinji Ros Moriarty said the design studio was honoured to continue its 20-year partnership with Qantas to support the place of Aboriginal design in Australia’s global identity.

“It’s been a privilege to work with the brilliant imagery of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye to create the airline’s fifth iconic Indigenous flying art aircraft. Emily was an extraordinary artist who is revered around the world.

“Born in 1910, she began painting only in later life, completing more than 3000 exceptional works up until her death at 86 years of age. Her work embodies her cultural and spiritual connections to her country,” said Ms. Moriarty.

The aircraft will fly direct for approximately 15 hours from the Boeing factory in Seattle to touch down in Alice Springs on 2 March 2018 where it will be welcomed by Emily’s family.

Registered as VH-ZND, the aircraft will then fly to Sydney and Melbourne for crew familiarisation flights on Qantas’ domestic network before it enters service on international routes from late March. This is the fourth Dreamliner to enter the Qantas fleet, following the arrival of Great Southern Land, Waltzing Matilda and Quokka.

For more information click here, or view our gallery.

*Emily Kame Kngwarreye (pron. Emily Karma Nung-war-ray).


  • The livery based on Emily’s Yam Dreaming artwork took:
    • A team of more than 60 graphic designers, engineers and painters at Boeing’s Seattle facility worked with Balarinji to install the design onto the aircraft, taking more than ten days to complete.
    • There are close to 5000 dots on the aircraft.
  • Emily Kame Kngwarreye will be the second flying art aircraft currently in service alongside a B737-800, named Mendoowoorrji.
  • Qantas has worked with Indigenous owned design studio Balarinji for more than two decades on aircraft livery projects and other design work, including the Peter Morrissey uniform of 2003.
  • Yam Dreaming, 1991 is part of the Campbelltown City Council Permanent Collection and can be viewed at Campbelltown Arts Centre. The work was purchased in 1995 by Campbelltown City Council with assistance from the Australia Council.
  • Five Qantas aircraft have been painted in Indigenous designs, with Wunala Dreaming carried on two separate aircraft – click here for more information.
  • Qantas has a long-term commitment to reconciliation and the promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and economic development. Since the mid-1990s, Qantas has actively promoted the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through unique customer experiences, including the Flying Art Series.
  • Qantas is committed to ethical and transparent sourcing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and is proud to be a supporter of the Indigenous Art Code.


  • Born in 1910 at Ahalkere in the Utopia Homelands, Emily Kame Kngwarreye is recognised worldwide as one of Australia’s most significant artists of the late 20th Century.
  • Her paintings influenced a change in the direction of Australian Aboriginal art from the use of traditional iconography to an open abstract landscape.
  • Emily learnt ancestral stories, song cycles, traditional body paint markings for women’s dancing ceremonies and became a leader in women’s ceremonial business.
  • Working as a stock hand, she became very familiar with the Utopia landscape and her paintings are maps of her traditional lands.
  • Respected as a bold and strong woman, her paintings, with their definite and sure lines depict the Utopia of her ancestors. Emily began painting quite late in her life, taking it up when she was almost 80 years of age.


  • Qantas: +61 418 210 005 |
  • Balarinji: +61 498 646 992 |