From the Newsroom

Street artist Austin with the completed mural depicting Yaegl Elder Uncle Ron Heron. The mural can be seen on the old pump station in River Street, Maclean. Image: Lynne Mowbray

A visible acknowledgment to NAIDOC

In honour of Uncle Ron Heron during NAICOC week


Lynne Mowbray


The old concrete pump station in River Street Maclean has been given a facelift over the weekend, with a mural painting depicting one of our prominent Yaegl Elders.

Highly respected Yaegl Elder, Uncle Ron Heron of Yamba, has had the artwork created in his honour, to celebrate NAIDOC week.

The mural was created (free of charge) by street art/visual artist ‘Austin’, who goes by the name, ‘NITSUA’.

The Independent spoke with Austin as he put the finishing touches to the painting on Saturday morning, about what inspired him to create this colourful tribute.

“About six months ago I got the idea to paint in Maclean,” Austin said.

“I wanted to bring in some Indigenous reference here and thought it would be great to do it in conjunction with NAIDOC week.

“So, I got in touch with the Yaegl Country mob CEO William Walker – known as Uncle Bill and asked him who would be the most respected Yaegl Elder and he told me Uncle Ron Heron.

“So, I went and saw Uncle Ron and took some photos of him and sat down with him and he told me a few stories, which I have incorporated into the painting,” he said.

Austin said that he has been painting large murals (which he creates using cans of spray paint) for the last 10 – 15 years and his work has taken him far and wide.

“At the moment I’m currently working within primary schools and sharing what I do, with the kids,” Austin said.

“I ask for their input, as in what they’d like to see me paint, so they feel like they are involved and then I’ll work with that subject.

“Sometimes they might help me to paint the background, for my paintings as well.

“The schools usually approach me to do a mural on a large wall or area within their school and I’ve been working full time doing this for the last six years.

“I’ve travelled from Gladstone in Queensland and down as far as South Australia, mostly working within the schools, but I do pick up the odd private job here and there, as well,” he said.

Austin said that he was privileged to be able to portray Uncle Ron Heron in his mural, especially during NAIDOC week.

“Uncle Ron Heron is the most respected Elder in the community and he was born here in the Clarence Valley and lives in Yamba,” Austin said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to paint certain people like Uncle Ron during my travels and I think what’s quite unique about it is that they are still alive, and they get to see it and experience it and it’s celebrating their life, particularly during NAIDOC week, which is all about celebrating Indigenous people and their culture,” he said.