During the early 1990s large-scale special liveries, which are almost ten a penny nowadays, were rare. This was largely due to the limitations of digital design, printing and application to such large objects as aircraft prone to high stresses and highly variable atmospheric conditions. Given the logistical and political ramifications of undertaking the design it is little surprise that the initial idea for Wunala Dreaming was floated with Qantas for 18 months before the go ahead was given.
Originally planned as a 3 month promotion the livery was so successful that it flew (on 2 different 747s) for seventeen years until January 2012. Further it inspired a line of Qantas Aboriginal art decorated aircraft that continues today. The livery was the brainchild of John and Ros Moriarty of Balarinji Designs. Wunala means Kangaroo in the language of the Yanyuwa people of Borroloola on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Using styles from Northern and Central Australia, it features the spirits of Aboriginal people in the form of kangaroos travelling through the red desert landscape. The colours were inspired by the 'bright red sunsets of Uluru to the blue-lavenders of the Flinders Ranges to the lush green apple colours of Kakadu'.
As described by John and Ros themselves:
"In Dreamtime journeys, spirit ancestors in the form of kangaroos (Wunala) make tracks from camps to waterholes, leading the people to water and food. Today, as they have for centuries, Aboriginal people re-enact such journeys through song and dance 'corroborees'. These ensure the procreation of all living things in the continuing harmony of nature's seasons."
The design itself contains 1,324 irregular dots and 7 different colours whilst the 67 patterns took 12 days to paint, using 800 litres of paint in the process. The first aircraft to wear the scheme was VH-OJB, the second of four new 747-438s ordered by QF in 1987. She entered service on a SYD-IN-LHR service four days after her arrival in Australia on September 19, 1989 though at the time she still wore standard QF colours and was named ‘City of Sydney’. On September 4, 1994 she was rolled out wearing the special ‘Wunala Dreaming’ colours. She wore the scheme until March 2003 when she was repainted into standard colours and became 'Mt Isa'. She operated her final revenue service on April 25, 2012. She had a total time of 94,509 hours and 12,749 cycles.
She was replaced in the Qantas fleet as Wunala Dreaming by the new 747-438ER VH-OEJ who operated her first revenue service in August 2003. She survived in service in this scheme until January 2012 when she was repainted into Qantas' modified standard colours. In that sense the Wunala Dreaming outlasted its sister Nalanji Dreaming which was launched in 1995. Nowadays Qantas maintains a single 737-800 decked out in the Aboriginal schemes named 'Mendoowoorrji' after 'Yananyi Dreaming' was repainted in 2014. All three Dreaming schemes came from the house of Balarinji Designs.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: