Called “Life Changing” by Travellers – Real Australia

Palya Art Tour C404 Chartered Aircraft Image:Helen Read

Crossing the North West, Palya Art Tours covers vast distances by ‘plane visiting Indigenous community owned art enterprises. Often called ‘Life Changing’ by travellers during the journey, the real Australia is revealed.

Flying Dates for 2017 are Arnhem Land July 3rd-5th, Kimberley July 24-26th & Central Australia August 21st-23rd.

With permit arrangements to meet Senior Cultural Custodians, artists and Traditional Owners of country requested long before taking off in our own aircraft, we cross some of Australia’s most magnificent landscapes and coastal vistas.

Reaching remote area Art Centres – bringing our, plus extra, supplies – we are introduced to local Indigenous people who frequently speak six or seven languages including – but not always – Australian English. We may see paintings reflecting the aerial perspectives just witnessed out of the aircraft window; only the artworks reveal complex additions and alternate dimensions – which these art tours help bring home, and the visitor takes home in their hearts, for ever.

Catering, accommodation, flights, local guiding, permits, supplies and ground transportation is provided by Palya Art Tours and the widespread Art Centres. Safety is taken very seriously and considered pre-planning is made for a comprehensive immersion into Australian First People’s art and culture. However, I must say up front that nothing, despite all the plans laid, can be guaranteed to happen.

Communities sometimes need to be closed at short notice for cultural reasons that preclude a scheduled visit. In which case, having our own aircraft and local experience, alterations to our journey may be required – and yet serendipity has it’s way of being a friend.

Compliance with Civil Aviation legislation is a strong factor. Still an aviator having flown the art tours for the first 20 years, I now employ an additional pilot when touring so as to focus on logistics and every body. And yes, getting older (I’m delighted to be able to say).

We depart from and return to Darwin for Arnhem Land and Kimberley, and from Alice Springs for Central Australia.

There are places for seven travellers on each journey. The small number provides the opportunity and time to speak with local people individually. We can also all fit into one ‘Troopie’ 4WD after landing; our impact is intended to be relatively low, and ground facilities are not (sometimes further) overstretched.

Booking confirmation is by a 50% deposit. The price is $6,600.00 AUD each person. For questions, information or more details like what to bring, a suggested reading list or how to join the art tour, you may contact me through or visit

The National Aboriginal Art Awards take place in Darwin from the 10th August 2017. Desert Mob in Alice Springs is the weekend of 8th September. Both events showcase traditional and new artistic creations and are a celebration of Australian First Nation art, cultures and diversity. I have scheduled 2017 art tours to fit in with these dates allowing for artists long travel time away from homelands to the cheerful festivals, making sure combining an art tour with the awards is possible.

Bookings for 2018 are being taken now too. For those interested but can’t make the actual journey I’ll continue Palya Art’s Sunday Blogging on the ‘Vicarious Art Tour’.

Thank you to everyone who have been giving thoughtful, learned feedback on the Posts,

Best Wishes to you all for 2017, Helen

This article first appeared on 15th January 2017.

Helen Read is an artist and former nurse-pilot for the Pintupi Homelands Health Service in Walungurru (Kintore), Kiwirrkurra, Gibson Desert, Central Australia.

Join Helen Read, Director of Palya Art and Palya Art Tours on other networks:



Twitter: www.twitter/@Palyaart


On Line Gallery:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email