The 4 September marked 25 years since Wunala Dreaming, the first plane in the Qantas-Balarinji Flying Art Series, took off from Sydney International Airport to celebrate Qantas’ inaugural flight to Kansai International Airport in 1994.
Wunala Dreaming was created at a time when Aboriginal design was rarely showcased or celebrated. It was a culturally restorative statement by the best known Australian brand in the world.
The launch of Wunala Dreaming was a seminal moment for Australian art and Aboriginal culture. After its launch, it became the most photographed aircraft in the world and was one of the world’s largest pieces of modern art.
It was intended to be a three month promotion, but the joy and recognition Wunala Dreaming inspired all around the world kept it in the sky, including a re-paint, for 17 years.
The Qantas-Balarinji Flying Art Series that Wunala Dreaming began, grew to include another four Qantas-Balarinji aircraft: Nalanji Dreaming (1995), Yananyi Dreaming (2002) with the art of Rene Kulitja, Mendoowoorrji (2013) with Paddy Bedford, and Emily Kame Kngwarreye (2018), named for the artist.
For Balarinji it was both a personal and a public way to challenge the abhorrent intention of cultural cleansing that had taken Balarinji co-founder John Moriarty away from his mother during the Stolen Generations era.