The NLC logo is derived from a painting by a Kunwinjku man from Marrkolidjban on the Liverpool River. The use of the painting as the Land Council logo, and some minor changes to the design, was approved by the artist and a copyright fee was paid.
The artist has since died. The painting is a western Kunwinjku depiction of the Rainbow Serpent which is widespread in Aboriginal beliefs.
Dreamtime (or The Dreaming or Tjukurrpa or Jukurrpa) stories tell of the great spirits and totems during creation, in animal and human form that moulded the barren and featureless earth. The Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains, and gorges as it pushed upward. The Rainbow Serpent is understood to be of immense proportions and inhabits deep permanent waterholes and is in control of life's most precious resource, water. In some cultures, the Rainbow Serpent is considered to be the ultimate creator of everything in the universe.
In some cultures, the Rainbow Serpent is male; in others, female; in yet others, the gender is ambiguous or the Rainbow Serpent is hermaphroditic or bisexual, thus an androgynous entity. Some commentators have suggested that the Rainbow Serpent is a phallic symbol, which fits its connection with fertility myths and rituals. When the Serpent is characterized as female or bisexual, it is sometimes depicted with breasts. Other times, the Serpent has no particular gender. The Serpent has also been known to appear as a scorpion or another animal or creature. In some stories, the Serpent is associated with a bat, sometimes called a "flying fox" in Australian English, engaged in a rivalry over a woman. Some scholars have identified other creatures, such as a bird, crocodile, dingo, or lizard, as taking the role of the Serpent in stories. In all cases, these animals are also associated with water. The Rainbow Serpent has also been identified with the bunyip, a fearful, water-hole dwelling creature in Australian mythology.
In other cultures, the Serpent is said to come to stop the rain. In addition to the identification with the rainbow, the Serpent is also identified with a prismatic halo around the moon that can be regarded as a sign of rain. The Rainbow Serpent is sometimes associated with human blood, especially circulation and the menstrual cycle, and considered a healer. Thunder and lightning are said to stem from when the Rainbow Serpent is angry, and the Serpent can even cause powerful rainstorms and cyclones. Quartz crystal and seashells are also associated with the Rainbow Serpent and are used in rituals to invoke it. The identification with quartz crystal presumably results from its prism-like appearance.