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Indigenous-painted Qantas 787 ‘Yam Dreaming’ arrives in Alice Springs

written by WOFA | March 2, 2018

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND Emily Kame Kngwarreye touches down in Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND Emily Kame Kngwarreye touches down in Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)

Clear skies and Australia’s rugged outback have greeted the arrival of Qantas’s fourth Boeing 787-9, which features a special indigenous livery inspired by the work of artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The aircraft, VH-ZND, departed Boeing’s final assembly line at Everett a little after 2100 (local time) on Wednesday. Some 15 and a half hours and almost 7,000nm later, it touched down at Alice Springs Airport a little after 0600 on Friday, where it received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND Emily Kame Kngwarreye at Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND Emily Kame Kngwarreye at Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)

On hand to greet the arrival of Qantas’s fourth 787-9 were members of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s family, as well as Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and the local community.

“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,” Joyce said in a statement.

“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.”

The aircraft, which is named Emily Kame Kngwarreye, is expected to operate a number of domestic flights on the Qantas network before being deployed on Melbourne-Los Angeles and Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow flights.

Qantas’s first three 787-9s are named Great Southern Land (VH-ZNA), Waltzing Matilda (VH-ZNB) and Quokka (VH-ZNC).

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND at Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND at Alice Springs. (Qantas/James Morgan)


Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman Emily Kame Kngwarreye was born some 230km north east of Alice Springs at Ahalkere in the Utopia Homelands.

Her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming has been adapted for the aircraft by leading Indigenous-owned design studio Balarinji. The design depicts the culturally significant yam plant, an important symbol in Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Dreaming stories and a staple food source in her home region of Utopia.

The airline said the livery features more than 5,000 dots and involved more than 60 graphic designers, engineers and painters, with the work taking 10 days to complete at Boeing’s Everett facility just outside Seattle in Washington State.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s 1991 work “Yam Dreaming” is on display at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney, where it is part of the permanent collection.

The PWERLE Aboriginal Art Gallery posted a video of the aircraft on Instagram.


  • David


    Looks good. Can’t wait to see it in person and to fly it. Alice residents who saw this plane this morning were very lucky.

  • Rod Pickin


    Don’t tell me the thing is going into storage already.

  • Stu Bee


    Just fantastic

  • Gary


    Read the article again. It arrived in ASP to meet the descendants of Emily Kngwarreye whose art is included on VH-ZND.

  • Scott


    Fantastic, great artwork and great location for unveiling.

  • Jeff


    Tongue in cheek i think LOL

  • Ravsta


    Good on you Qantas!

  • Rosalie


    What an awesome tribute to an amazing painter.

  • Old Mate


    Come on Gaz! Rod was taking the Mick.

  • KFB


    Good to see it finally on our soil.

  • Marc


    It’s called a joke, son.

  • Ross durnin


    Is there a technical reason for arriving at Alice Springs or was it just to be near the birth place

  • Markie Mark


    The -9 looks awesome. Hopefully we’ll see a A380 in an indigenous theme once they’ve been repainted by EK.

  • Patrick Nelson


    Considered it a privilege to have have been among a group of well-wishers who watched (from the airport perimeter) its approach and landing.

  • What’s the trick to pronouncing Emily’s surname? Help appreciate

  • This colour scheme on VH-ZND is just awful ( I know you will all shout at me !) it just doesnt blend in atall, though not as bad as when B747-400 VH-OJB was stylised.
    Not to take anything away at all from aboriginal culture, and history, but they could have designed this so much better.

    • Mike


      I also am not thrilled with the color choice on this aircraft. It ressembles a crime scene. I love all the Aboriginal art works on the other aircraft, Wunala Dreaming was my favourite, but this I dislike. The aircraft comes to JFK from LAX but I avoid seeing it; I miss the beautiful old 747s and the old Skippy with his paws intact.

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