Alice Springs | Published on 2nd March 2018 at 9:16

Qantas’ newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which features a unique Indigenous livery, touched down in Alice Springs today.

The livery showcases the artwork of the late Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye*. Based on her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming, the design 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.

Adapted by leading Indigenous owned design studio Balarinji, this special livery took a team of 60 people more than 10 days to complete.

The aircraft touched down in Alice Springs shortly after dawn following a 13,000km journey from Boeing’s Seattle facility and was warmly received by members of Emily’s family, who were joined by government officials and local community members.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said it was an honour to be in Alice Springs to receive the airline’s newest Dreamliner with Indigenous livery.

“It is a privilege to welcome home this special aircraft together with Emily’s family, close to her home Country. We’re thrilled to showcase her striking artwork on our newest Dreamliner.

“As the aircraft enters our international fleet, we believe this Dreamliner, through colour and image, will tell a story of our unique Australian landscape and, by sharing our Indigenous culture with the world, the
important story of reconciliation,” said Mr. Joyce.

Registered as VH-ZND, this aircraft carries the fifth design in the Qantas Flying Art Series which started more than 20 years ago and is the only one dedicated to international flights.

It will fly several domestic services for crew familiarisation before it enters service on international routes in late March.

The aircraft is the fourth Dreamliner to enter the Qantas fleet, following the arrival of Great Southern Land, Waltzing Matilda and Quokka.

*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.
  • This aircraft will be the second in the Flying Art series 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.
  • 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.
  • Fact sheet about Balarinji is available here.


  • 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.
  • Working as a stock hand, she became very familiar with the local Utopia landscape and her paintings are maps of her traditional lands.
  • Emily’s paintings, depict the Utopia of her ancestors. Emily began painting quite late in her life, when she was almost 80 years of age.