National Bamba Competition Winners


Matthew Joseph - ACT

Matthew Joseph -


IDENTITY & PAINTING: My style of art has been passed down to me by my elders and I have been painting for 2 years.  My artwork is based on animals and stories from my cultural ties with Northern Qld, Arnhemland and Wiradjuir country.  I have lived in Canberra most of my life but have visited and lived in all three traditional areas and develop close bonds with all my peoples.

This painting represents my links to three traditional lands.

The goanna represents the Wiradjuri tribes, fish from Ngandi people and the tree from Yidinj Atherton people.


Runner up
$500 ea

Rhonda Campion - NT
Maxine Coombe - Kununurra, WA
Camille Dobson - Glenelg North, SA
Belinda Day - Yulara, NT
Benjamin Hodges - Weipa, QLD
Fiona Reidy - Ellenbrook, WA
Elwyn Toby - Kempsey, NSW
Nicole Wone - Bundaberg, Qld

Rhonda Campion -

IDENTITY & PAINTING: Barramundi & lizard with water Lilly's. Lizard (Wadjandu) is my sons totem and language name (which means the big lizard) Barramundi is my mother & Uncle's totem at Bulman Central Arnhemland. Fresh water lilies I paint this to keep our culture going and to remember my ancestors.

Maxine Coombe -
Kununurra, WA

IDENTITY & PAINTING: No matter what Region we come from we all belong.  We the people come from Australia North, South, East, West and North East, North West, South East, South West.  Middle painting represents the Red Centre then going out to the Coast.  Outer painting are the people from the Coast, fresh water runs into the sea.

Camille Dobson -
Glenelg North, SA
IDENTITY & PAINTING: From the heart runs the red dirt, hot and dry.  A tar vine clings fragile to mother earth, and with false eyes the caterpillar sees.  My ancestor travelled fought fierce battles, and in their wake the mountains grew.  On the wind whisper, a dog cries before it sleeps, another hill is born.  Birds drag the cloak of day to cover the night revealing ancient secrets hidden, some never told.  The relentless sun paints the country sepia tones, cicadas sing the day.  My story is woven into this place, part of the ancient fabric.  The spirit of this country etched in my soul, this my identity.  This painting tells the story of my home.

Belinda Day -
Yulara, NT

IDENTITY & PAINTING: I identify as a Murri woman and my Aboriginality makes me feel connected to my culture, my family and my surroundings.  Living away from home and my family I connect through my art where I can truly express my story and who I am.  I’ve painted “Bush Lightning” to represent a natural phenomenon from home striking the land where I am now.

Benjamin Hodges -
Weipa, QLD

IDENTITY & PAINTING: The painting represents me, I am the crocodile that has been taken from captivity and put back into my natural environment again.

Fiona Reidy -
Ellenbrook, WA



IDENTITY & PAINTING: The Flames in the fire represent the burning passion I have for my art and being the story teller.  Stories are a big part of my life and my people because they help us to remember the past.  Also it represents my spirituality and if we could see only in the spiritual and didn’t have our physical bodies (the shell around our spirits) I think the flickering flames in the fire is what it would be like, but in a more transparent version.

The Smoke in the fire represents my culture, and who I am a Balladong women.  Its that knowing…and understanding of my people and feeling the connection to my ancestors who were Nomadic and lived by the 6 seasons.  The smoke is also representation of my family and where I belong.

The Sparks represents keeping my stories alive, sparking the old stories making them new again to the listeners.  We must keep our spirits strong and to learn as much as we can to teach our children to do the same.  I think that sparking an interest in others with enthusiasm of who you are and what you represent is a good reflection on your people.  I compare the present time and worry for my children with whats going on in the world today.  Then I think about our Ancestors, and how they inspire me because of how they lived in harmony and were a peaceful people who cared for one another which inspires me to paint about them and tell their stories.


Elwyn Toby -
Kempsey, NSW

IDENTITY & PAINTING: Barralbarayi is the Thunghutti word for “Mt Sugarloaf” or Mt Anderson, which is the Goanna symbol.  This place has special spiritual significance to Thunghutti people.  It is the initiation ground for young men coming of age.  Pink dots represent women, they too have their own sacred ground & are not allowed to walk on the mountain - they must walk around.    Central white spirit figures is a sign of peace and harmony, the river flowing through is Nulla Nulla Creek running into Macleay River with Pinkeye mullet swimming in th waters.  There are a valuable food source for our Thunghutti tribe.

Nicole Wone -
Bundaberg, Qld

IDENTITY & PAINTING: The traditional symbol of a woman in the half circle - represents myself Neularowhy Yoorellgoo. The eye is a lens, it's  the focal point of the work it draws you into my mind my heart and my world. The vibrancy of colours are warm, inviting and reflect the serenity I feel when I'm connected to the earth. The harmonious mix of colours reflects a perfect environment and definitely the most peaceful place on earth. The Burnett river rocks sacred artefacts of the Gooreng Gooreng are scattered, so my people don't have too many physical artefacts to pass on. Through my art I am guided by Nyarla my totem, the owl, to share a legacy of our mob as I experience and discover the depth of our culture.  Strong women have influenced me in my life and I honour their power through the mother spirit. Set in the gum trunk, like a scar tree she grows larger with time. She watches over us guiding through difficult times and allows our mind to open up and fly freely. The black boy grass tree sways with freedom in encumbered by the societal constraints. Yoo leesa's shares her energy of her life span into one positive act her beauty takes away from past and present pains to feel her brilliance and light.


1st place $3,000 - Natara Michael - Cooktown QLD
2nd place $2,000 - Charli Mercer - Maitland NSW
3rd place $1,000 - Nathan Faulkner - Kununurra WA

1st place $3,000
Natara Michael -
Cooktown, QLD
IDENTITY & PAINTING: This painting is of the many different things I catch when I go back to my homeland.  I learnt how to paint from my dad and grandparents.  My style of painting is part of my identity, which makes me who I am.

2nd place $2,000
Charli Mercer -
Maitland, NSW
IDENTITY & PAINTING: My name is Charli Mercer.  I am a descendent of the Kamilaroi people and grew up in the Hunter Valley NSW.  I discovered my Aboriginal heritage when I was 7 yrs old.  From that time I have wanted to learn more about my culture and strengthen my identity as a proud Aboriginal young person.  For me identity isn’t only who I am now but where I come from and my ancestors and stories of both my Anglo family and links to my Aboriginal heritage.  I have a strong connection to land and love to attend cultural events, and take part in NAIDOC events.   I have always loved and been drawn to art and painting.  I started doing dot paintings last year and love to get lost in producing an artwork that tells a story and represents my heritage and the Aboriginal culture.  My painting is called “Dreamtime Journeys” and shows the different tribes, their paths and journeys they have taken that connects them to the land and each other.

3rd place $1,000
Nathan Faulkner -
Kununurra, WA
IDENTITY & PAINTING: This piece that I have created for you today, is to remind me of how life doesn’t necessary go in a straight line, and that there are many twists and turns that we must take.  I also feel that this painting gives myself a sense of freedom and allows me to know I always have a choice no matter what culture we may come from, we can choose our own unique path.  I chose these two shades because I believe it shows that I share cultures from my mother who is from the Miriuwung Gajerrong tribe and my father that is of Australian Caucasian decent, and I’m so proud of my white and black heritage.