Creating Guuga

  • Project typeAboriginal Artwork
  • Completion Date25 January 2024


The Artist - Stewart James

Stewart James is a proud Wiradjuri man from Narrandera (currently residing in Young, NSW).


Stewart has national recognition as an indigenous artist, being chosen to work on Indigenous round uniforms for the Sydney Kings, and recently for the 2024 AFL Indigenous round.

Stewart has produced a number of artworks in our community, with pieces:

  • Temora & District Hospital;
  • Community collaboration artwork at Temora’s first multicultural event ‘Embrace’ festival in 2023, which is now displayed now at the Bundawarra Centre; and
  • Temora High School’s water tanks in their yarning space.

The Story


Wiradjuri Artist, Stewart James, was commissioned to design an artwork that could be used as indigenous acknowledgement signage in Temora Shire. The artwork was funded by the Australia Day 2024 Community Grants Program and, therefore, was unveiled at the 2024 Australia Day pool party event.


The Process

Stewart has worked with the Temora High School Aboriginal Education Team for a number of years on different projects and cultural ceremonies. Stewart consulted with the team from the very beginning and through the stages of development.

“Art for me is a collaborative process, what ideas I have are transformed by what others see and the story they bring to it,” explains Stewart. “I never would have envisioned Temora’s gugaa becoming what it has. Each element is a product of those involved. They brought it to life! I was just the curator.”

Also involved was Bundawarrah Centre Manager, Bill Speirs. Bill was able to lend his knowledge of Aboriginal history, unique to Temora Shire, through his work and studies at the museum. Bill is fondly acknowledged by our communtiy as our local historian.

Other elements were carefully considered through consultation with local Wiradjuri Elders and the Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee in Cootamundra (whose district includes Temora Shire). One of these elements included the spelling of ‘Wiradjuri’, which can sometimes be spelt Wiradyuri.

The Significance

The gugaa (goanna)

Totems are significant in Aboriginal culture. They are a mutual and spiritual relationship between Aboriginal people and nature. They can be an object, plant or animal. While an Aboriginal person will have four totems (nation, clan, family, and personal), the Aboriginal people of Wiradjuri Country all have the gugaa as their ‘nation’ totem.

The gugaa is a symbol that connects all people, past and present, to the Wiradjuri nation; as Aboriginal culture considers everyone and thing created equal.

Wiradjuri people have the responsibility of ensuring the gugaa’s protection, passing that accountability and knowledge on to the next, and every, generation.

The shape and alignment of the Gugaa reflects the geography of the Trigalong Creek and charts the progress of the Temora community by linking Altora, via the aviation precinct and Lake Centenary, back to the original Temora Pastoral Station.

The lines

The line in the artwork are a traditional Wiradjuri symbol that represent, in the artwork, our waterways in Temora Shire.

The circles

The circles in the artwork are a traditional Wiradjuri sign symbolising various waterholes and meeting places in Temora Shire.

The Temora Shire colours

The artwork colours were taken from the varying wildlife and landscapes of Temora Shire, including flora, fauna, watering holes, sunsets and land. 


“The Red and Orange are very relative to the dirt/clay colours we get in Temora Shire. With red being typical to the South & West and orange being more likely found on the North & East.” - Bill Speirs

Temora Shire Council’s communications team was engaged to digitise Stewart’s painting and apply various colouring for further consultation with the artwork committee. The final five colours (pictured above) were agreed on for their relativeness to our landscapes, dimensions when displayed together and for visibility.

The Temora Shire colour names are:

  • Charcoal Black
  • Orche Red
  • Clay Grey
  • Sunset Orange
  • Eucalypt Blue 

The Artwork - Guuga