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Cassandra Wongawol

"Rainbow Serpent" by Cassandra Wongawol


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Size: 144 x 59 cm

Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas

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About Cassandra

Cassandra is a lifelong resident of Wiluna, where she resides with her extensive family. She obtained her education from the Wiluna Remote Community School and Morawa School. Throughout the years, Cassandra has been actively engaged in various Wiluna Community Development programs and the Wiluna Martu Rangers Program. Additionally, she has acquired valuable work experience at the Matilda Mine Site. Cassandra is in a domestic partnership and is a mother of two children, aged 12 and 13. In her leisure time, she has developed an interest in the arts, particularly finding solace in painting. Concurrently, she harbours a fervour for woodcarving and the creation of jewellery.

Wiluna, situated in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, is a small town positioned on the periphery of the Western Desert, serving as the access point to the Canning Stock Route and Gunbarrel Highway. Functioning as the pivotal service center for the local Martu community, the pastoral industry, the Wiluna Gold Mine, and individuals engaged in "fly-in/fly-out" employment at various mines in the vicinity, the town plays a significant role in facilitating the region's economic and social activities.

Story of the Painting


The Rainbow Serpent is considered one of the most powerful and widespread Ancestral Beings of Aboriginal Australia. Rock art featuring this great Ancestral being dates as far back as 6,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuous religious beliefs in the world.

The story describes a time long ago when the Earth was flat. The serpent was one of the Dreamtime creatures who held great powers and gave shape to the Earth. The serpent emerged from under the ground to awaken different groups of animals.

The movement of its body formed physical features like hills, gorges, creeks and rivers into the once-featureless terrain. It slithered all over the country, occupying waterholes and providing nourishing water. Once it grew tired with shaping the Earth, it coiled into a waterhole where it lays to this day. 

Aboriginal people are very careful not to disturb water sites that it inhabits. They show great respect to it as its powers are immense.  The Ancestral Being can also at times be unpredictable, causing great destruction in the form of drought, cyclones and floods.

During heavy rainstorms the serpent’s waterhole can be disturbed. After the rain, when the sun has touched its coloured body, it can rise up from beneath the ground and travel through the clouds. Flying across the sky to another waterhole.

Rainbows are believed to be the serpent snaking from one watering hole to the next, replenishing waterholes around the country. This is the explanation given as to why some sources of water never dry up even during times of great drought.

It represents the life-giving value of water as well as the cycle of the seasons. Great creation stories of the serpent vary across the country. Tribes of the monsoonal areas describe an epic interaction between the Sun, Serpent and Wind in their Dreaming stories.