History of Qantas Founders Museum

Qantas Founders Museum is a wonderful example of a community getting together and honouring the achievements of a group of remarkable people who established the iconic airline as we know it today.

Qantas Founders Museum is a world-class, multi-award winning museum, here to tell the story of Qantas from its early days in Outback Queensland to present day.

The founders

The foundation of Qantas owes much to the contributions of several key individuals, dubbed the 'Originals.' Among them were Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinness, Fergus McMaster, and Arthur Baird.

Fysh and McGinness forged their connection while serving in No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps during World War I in Palestine. It was during this time that they first grasped the potential of aviation for commercial purposes. Their realisation solidified in 1919 while surveying the ground route for the Great Air Race from the UK to Australia, where the prospect of using air travel to open up the Australian outback became apparent.

With the backing of outback Queensland grazier Fergus McMaster, Qantas was incorporated in 1920 in Winton, Western Queensland. The airline initially focused on joy flights and charter work. By 1921, operations had shifted to Longreach, where Arthur Baird, a former WWI aviation engineer and associate of Fysh and McGinness, joined as the company's first paid employee and aircraft engineer, further strengthening the foundation.

From left to right, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGuinness.

From left to right, Arthur Baird and Fergus McMaster

Qantas's trajectory was assured when they were awarded the postal delivery contract from Charleville to Cloncurry, marking its first revenue-generating passenger flight with shareholder Alexander Kennedy. Operations continued from Longreach until 1930.

PJ McGinness left Qantas for more adventures late in 1922 with his last flight being the 1st air mail flight from Charleville to Longreach. Fergus McMaster was the 1st chairman of Qantas and served in that capacity for all but three of the next 27 years until his retirement in 1947. Arthur Baird was the chief engineer and built a team of expert aircraft mechanics. He was responsible for the excellent engineering & safety reputation of Qantas. Baird retired in June 1949.

Hudson Fysh was Managing Director and then Chairman until he retired in 1966. 46 years at the helm of Qantas from bi-planes, sea planes, the Super Constellation, and then on to the jet age.
He was a keen writer, publishing many books including the autobiographical trilogy of Qantas’ history, Qantas Rising, Qantas at War, and Wings to the World.

Our Story

The start of our Museum

In 1988, a meeting of Western Queensland communities established Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd (QFM) and formed a trust in recognition of the enormous service Q.A.N.T.A.S. had given to the people of the Outback.
These efforts culminated in June 1996, with the opening by the Governor General of Australia of the $1.3m Stage 1 of Qantas Founders Museum in the (now National Heritage Listed) National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar at Longreach.

A new Museum

Since the Museum’s opening in 1996, the need for a main and modern museum building had already been identified. With the assistance of Government Funding Stage Two of Qantas Founders Museum was completed and opened in March 2002. The new climate controlled building included a restaurant, four galleries, main exhibition hall, boardroom and office area. Qantas Founders Museum continues to create new displays, exhibits and experiences to expand the Qantas story which the Museum tells. Recent new exhibits and experiences include interactive table displays, Catalina Double Sunrise Display and museum tours.

Airpark Roof and Sound & Light Show

To preserve some of Australia’s aviation heritage for future generations to enjoy, Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd and Qantas Founders Museum engaged in a $14.3 million project to build a roof over the museum’s airpark enclosure to protect these iconic aircraft from the fierce Western Queensland sun. This was possible with funding from Federal and Queensland Governments.

As part of the Airpark Roof construction, Qantas Founders Museum installed a state of the art light and sound show, Luminescent Longreach, which projects the 100 year story of Qantas on the mighty Boeing 747, Boeing 707 and Super Constellation. This created an unique, world-class night experience for Longreach, the region and guests alike. This project was completed in 2020 and launched after re-opening from the COVID-19 closure.


Frequently Askqued Questions

Daily hours

The museum is open 8am to 4pm during seasonal months (April to October) and 8am to 1pm during summer months (October to March). The museum is open daily except for the Christmas closure noted on the home page.

Christmas closure period

Qantas Founders Museum closes at 1pm on 21 December 2024 and re-opens 8am 06 January 2025.

McGinness’ Cafe

The cafe will be open from 8am to 2pm April to October and 8am to 1pm October to March. During the seasonal months, the cafe continues to serve cakes, grab & go options and drinks until the museum closes at 4pm.

Visitors are not required to make a booking for table reservations at the cafe however during seasonal months (April to October) it is recommended to book in order to save disappointment.

Bookings for the restaurant can be made by phone on 07 4658 3737 or with staff upon arrival.


For all transactions made by Visa or MasterCard there is a 1.76% fee incurred. American Express is not accepted.

Booking availability

If you are trying to book a tour or experience and there does not appear to be any availability, please use the drop down option to check if the tour or is experience is available at another time.

For example, from March to October the airpark tour times are 9:30am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm.
If the 9:30am is full, it will show no availability for the tour but if you change the time to any of those listed, there may still be spaces available.

During seasonal months of operation, tours and experiences can be fully booked 1-2 days in advance.
Please note tour times will change in the summer months (October – March).

Tours and experiences

We have a number of tours and experiences for visitors to enjoy including our Light & Sound Show.
These experiences are available daily.

Visiting the museum

The Museum only experience includes the main museum building and exhibition hall, the Catalina display and the National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar. Those visiting the museum can expect to spend 2-4 hours in the museum. For those guests who have booked a guided tour, you need to allocate time before or after your tour (depending on the tour time) to see the museum. For example, if you are booked for the 1pm or 2pm guided tour you will need to allocate time before your tour to see the museum.

Age restrictions

There is a minimum age of 12 years old for the 747 wing walk tour and platinum tour.
Enclosed shoes are compulsory. Guests who are between 12 and 18 years of age, must be accompanied by a (paying) parent or guardian over 18 years old.

Children under 5 years old

Children under five years of age receive free entry. When making a booking online, please select the infant option to allocate numbers of children under five within your family.

Booking a family

Please note our booking system cannot book more than one family at a time to receive the discounted price.

Qantas staff

Retired and current Qantas staff receive free entry to the museum and discounted rates on the guided tour. The discounted rates are do not apply to the Captains Club experience. To receive this discount, you must produce your ID card. For more information, please contact the museum at info@qfom.com.au

Special requirements

We can accommodate to most special requirements during our guided tours and we have notes available for guests who require them whilst on tour.

If you, or those traveling with you, have any special requirements please advise this information when booking online or contact 07 4658 3737 or email info@qfom.com.au to let us know.

Light & Sound Show Experience

This experience lasts for 23 minutes. To get the full experience, guests will be standing for the duration of the show.
If you require a chair, please let a staff member on the night know.

Please arrive 15 minutes before the show time and entry is through the airpark precinct. The Light & Sound Show experience does not include museum entry.

Light & Sound Show Start times

Every month the start times for the Light & Sound Show will change due to the changing of the sunset times i.e. later in the summer months and earlier in the winter months. When booking online please click on the drop down menu for the show times to see availability. If the first show is sold out, we open a second show 45 minutes after the first show. Please be advised during the summer months of operation (October to March) the Light & Sound Show is available on demand only.

Covid-19 regulations

We are a hospitality and tourism venue which follows all current Queensland health regulations.
You can find all information relating to the current restrictions here.

The museum also has the following measures in place to minimise risk to visitors and staff:

. Visitors are encouraged to keep 1.5m apart
. Regular cleaning throughout the museum precinct
. Hand sanitiser available throughout the museum
. Visitor flow and queue management measures

Other ways to minimise risk:

. Book Tickes before visiting
. If you feel unwell, or are displaying symptoms of flu or a cold, please do not visit. If you display multiple symptoms of cold or flu (including a fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing) you may be asked to leave the museum.
. Do not touch exhibits.

Qantas Founders Museum is monitoring the impacts and concerns associated with coronavirus (covid-19) closely. In line with our core values, we are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of covid-19 to protect our employees, guests and our community.

How long does it take to visit the museum?

The average visitor will spend 4 hours in the museum. The museum is self-guided and designed for you to view the exhibits at your own pace. We recommend at least 2-4 hours to take in what the museum has to offer. Noting to access the aircraft you must book a guided tour and the tours range from 1.5 to 4 hours.
More info can be found here.

Is it recommended to book in advance?

Yes, it is highly advisable to plan your visit in advance to ensure you allow enough time and secure the tour/s most suitable for your visit to the Longreach region. During the region’s peak season, April to October, our guided tours are often sold out at least 1-2days in advance however it is not uncommon for tours to be fully booked weeks (even months) in advance.

To make a booking, contact us directly: bookings@qfom.com.au or phone (07) 4658 3737.

Second day pass?

Yes. The museum entry can be split across two days by simply asking for a pass-out ticket. Identification is required (e.g. Drivers licence) to complete the pass-out ticket. The pass out ticket can only be used for the consecutive day.

Who qualifies for the senior rate?

Anyone who holds a commonwealth recognised senior’s card or valid aged pension card.

Do you have a restaurant onsite?

Yes. Our onsite cafe is fully licensed and open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Please be aware food and drink are not permitted inside the museum or on the tours.

Can we take pictures during our visit?

Yes. You can take as many photos as you like, in all areas, except during the Light & Sound Show. Please be sure to tag Qantas Founders Museum! #qantasfoundersmuseum#experiencelongreach

Does the museum offer group rates?

Yes. The museum can arrange special tours and opening hours for large groups. To find out more, contact us via email bookings@qfom.com.au.

Is there parking for buses and caravans?

Yes. There are a few parking spaces for long vehicles available outside the museum complex.

Is there wheelchair access at the museum?

The museum and National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar is accessible by wheelchair. We also have a wheelchair available for loan to customers who experience limited mobility.

There is no wheelchair access to the inside of the Boeing 747, 707 and Super Constellation. Customers with limited mobility are advised access to the aircraft is via a steep staircase. When booking online, noting any special requirements is mandatory.

The museum can cater to special requirements, and it is advised to contact us via email info@qfom.com.au to make alternative arrangements if necessary for your visit.

Does the museum accept companion cards?

The museum is not formally affiliated with the companion card system however guests holding a valid companion card will be granted free entry to the museum only.

Do the aircraft still fly?

No. Qantas Founders Museum is a non-flying operation. To fly our aircraft would be cost-prohibitive and is beyond our current resources. Some of our aircraft flew to Longreach under a “permit to fly” for delivery only; however, all are now on static display.

Is the museum owned by Qantas?

No. The museum is owned by Qantas Foundation Memorial, a not-for-profit community group and registered charity.

Can I volunteer at the museum?

Yes. From time to time, the museum requires volunteers to assist with major projects, such as the painting of aircraft. For more information, contact us directly: info@qfom.com.au.

How to donate to the museum?

Financial donations over $2.00 are tax deductible. To donate, click here.

Donating objects to the collection

If you have an object or artefact you wish to donate, please contact our senior curator, Sarah Johnson: sjohnson@qfom.com.au. Object and artefact donations must be assessed for significance and approved by our acquisitions committee.
Items offered for donation cannot be left at the museum. Please do not post precious objects, documents or photographs. Qantas Founders Museum holds no responsibility for items sent in the post.

Do you purchase acquisitions from private collectors?

Not usually. The museum is a not-for-profit community group and registered charity. We are unable to self-fund the purchase of artefacts or exhibits. We will only consider purchasing an item in exceptional circumstances and only after careful research and consideration by our acquisitions committee.

Where is the flying fortress base?

Longreach was used as a base by three flying fortress squadrons of the United States Army Corps between May and July 1942. As part of the heritage trails network, some road signage has been installed pointing to the airport precinct reading “WW2 flying fortress base”.

There is a plaque outside the National Heritage Listed Qantas Hangar commemorating the flying fortress base. However, the museum, being focused exclusively on the story of Qantas, does not have a flying fortress, nor does it contain any detailed information about flying fortress operations in Longreach during World War Two.


Qantas Founders Museum is located in Longreach, Western Queensland, 1200 km North West of Brisbane. Visitors to the Museum can travel to Longreach via road, air and rail.


Many visitors travel to Longreach by road whether this is in their own vehicles, with a tour group or by bus. For information about travelling to Longreach, contact the Longreach Visitor Information Centre on 07 4658 4150.


Qantas Airways flies daily to Longreach from Brisbane.For more information visit www.qantas.com . Regional Express (Rex) flies to Longreach from Townsville twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information visit http://www.rex.com.au/.


Twice a week Queensland Rail’s “Spirit of the Outback” travels to Longreach from Brisbane. For more information go to: https://www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au

What is on in Longreach?

For more information about what to see and do in Longreach, contact the Longreach Regional Council’s Visitor Information Centre on 07 4658 4150 or click here.

We acknowledge the Iningai people, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Qantas Founders Museum stands.