Skip to content



Keep in Touch

Keep in Touch

Gunnedah’s Rainbow Serpent named one of Australia’s best public art experiences

February 10, 2021

Gunnedah’s Rainbow Serpent Water Feature has been shortlisted for the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards in the category of Best Rural Art.

The Awards showcase public art and recognise regions that are using outdoor, publicly-accessible art to promote their destination and engage their community.

Cultural Precinct Team Leader Lauren Mackley said Council is honoured to be recognised for this cultural initiative, and acknowledged the efforts of local Kamilaroi artists.

“Shirley Long, Janet Wanless, L. Delma Jones, L. Ellen Draper, Gloria Foley, June Cox, Alison Cox, Rita Long and Cindy Foley persisted for almost 20 years to bring this project to life,” Ms Mackley said.

“This sculpture celebrates and preserves the culture, history and experiences of these strong and determined women.”

Judges commented the sculpture was “a wonderful example of the strong Indigenous community and women inspiring the next generations, while sharing their culture with tourists and the rest of the community”.

The Rainbow Serpent Water Feature is permanently installed at the entrance to the Cultural Precinct in Chandos Street and is open for the community to visit.

Last year the water feature received the Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture NSW Local Government Award, which celebrates outstanding achievement by local government organisations in strategic planning for arts and culture.

Winners of the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards will be announced on Tuesday, March 2 2021.


The Story of the Rainbow Serpent

As told by the late Elder Ellen Draper

In traditional Aboriginal storytelling, the Rainbow Serpent was not always a snake but a man who, by deception and lies, attempted to turn the people against their God, Baiame.

The Elders in the Dreamtime went to Baiame and told him what Rainbow was doing. Baiame punished Rainbow for his treachery by causing him to slither along the ground and sending him from the Dreamtime, never to return.

He was ordered to place all of the heavenly bodies and earthly objects in this land in such a way that balance was maintained. When he laid his head on the ground to rest from his labours, a waterhole or billabong was created; and where he travelled, rivers formed.

When his creation work was finished, the Rainbow Serpent transported all living creatures, including the people, to the land he had made for them and deposited them in their rightful places.



Media contact: Communications Team (02) 6740 2100.