Qantas are allowing the public to select the names of their forthcoming Boeing 787 fleet. This is now down to 20 possible choices for the 8 aircraft on order.

The 20 choices are very interesting and reflect Australia in many ways. Non-Australians will be perplexed by the names so here is the short list of names explained.

A History Of Names

Aircraft names have a long history at Qantas. In the 1920s, names from Greek mythology were popular, such as Apollo, Diana, Perseus and Atalanta. When the C-Class Flying Boats arrived in the 1930s, all the names started with the letter C. These included places such as Coolangatta, Coogee and Carpentaria.

The Catalina flying boats were named after stars such as Rigel and Vega. Constellations had a southern theme such as Southern Wave, Southern Mist and Southern Wind. In the jet age they have included cities and more lately Australian aviation pioneers.

With the new Boeing 787s the names selected are interesting and I’ll go through them and what they mean to Australia.


A boomerang is a weapon used for hunting by Aboriginal people in Australia. It is a flat airfoil that spins when thrown and is designed to return to the thrower.


It is probably best to refer to the Wikipedia article on this as it is difficult to explain. It is related to Australian Aboriginal beliefs to refer to the past and the stories that come from then.


This is a young woman who is working on a cattle or sheep station to gain practical experience in the skills needed to become an overseer or manager in this area.

Fred Hollows

Fred Hollows is a famous ophthalmologist who restored the eye sight of many people in Australia and around the world. His foundation continues his work to this day.


Quokka’s are marsupials about the size of a domestic cat that looks like a small kangaroo. They are a vulnerable species that now exist in small parts of Western Australia.


Skippy is a term used to refer to kangaroos. A famous Australian television show, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, ran from 1968 to 1970. The show is about a young boy and his adventures with his intelligent kangaroo named Skippy.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometres (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world’s largest war memorial.

Joan Sutherland

Dame Joan Sutherland was a world famous Australian Opera singer. Her career lasted from the early 1950s through to the 1980s and she is he first Australian to win a Grammy Award.

Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Goolagong is an Aboriginal former Australian world number 1 tennis player. The height of her career occurred during the 1970s and 1980s she was one of the leading tennis players in the world.


Cooee is a shout used in Australia, usually in the bush, to attract attention, find missing people, or indicate one’s own location. It is also the name of one of the former Qantas C-Class flying boats.


This is an Australian term for a sheep, plain and simple.


Vegemite is a salty black spread that you put on toast. It is made from yeast extract and Aussie’s find it fun to get unsuspecting tourists to taste it. You either love it or hate it.


Kookaburra’s are birds which make a laughing sound that is found throughout Australia.

Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matila is a famous song with lyrics by Banjo Patterson. It is often called Australia’s unofficial national anthem and when the country was selecting a national anthem it came second in the voting. Everyone knows it.

Don Bradman

Don Bradman is Australia’s most famous cricket player, regarded as the greatest batsman of all time. Cricket is a very popular sport in Australia so his name is commonly known.


Kokoda is a town in Papua New Guinea. During World War II, Papua was an Australian territory and the Australian Army repelled the Japanese in the Kokoda Track Campaign.


Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the Northern Territory of Australia and is a popular tourist destination.

Great Southern Land

Australia, naturally.

True Blue

This is the name of the JetBlue frequent flyer programme. In Australia, if you’re a True Blue Aussie it means you’re Australian through and through so it refers to being an Australian.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Listed reef off the coast of Queensland in north eastern Australia. This is another major tourist destination and is very beautiful.

Overall Thoughts

Now that you know what all the names mean, you can make informed choices when going to the Qantas site to pick some names for the Dreamliners. I have already made my selection and I am very interested to see what the public chooses.

Qantas has a high standing among Australians so choosing the names for the aircraft will be quite popular. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via Qantas.