Strong like the reef

2023 Shirt Presentation

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have launched their 2023 Indigenous design artwork with the unveiling and presentation of the official NRL Cowboys House polo shirt.

The shirt is the first Cowboys piece to feature the artwork by Lardil woman and Mornington Island artist Renee Wilson, which will also emblazon the Cowboys playing jersey and Deadly Choices training tee during NRL Indigenous Round.

Titled 'Mundarlbi', the design shares the name of a Mornington Island Reef, and is based on a traditional Mornington Island dance that captures the strength and resilience of the reef.

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Having grown up around strong cultural leaders and elders from whom she learned a wealth of stories and dance, Lardil (Mornington Island) woman Renee Wilson has continually developed her own style of art.

Having moved between portraiture, landscape, traditional and abstract styles of art, Ms Wilson also danced professionally with the Mornington Island Dancers, touring nationally and internationally between 1997 and 2015.

She began painting in the same year she joined the dance group, playing a pivotal role in the movement away from traditional painting, to develop a contemporary style for Mornington Island artists.

Ms Wilson has been part of group exhibitions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns and has been a finalist in prestigious art awards including The Lester Portraiture Prize (2021) and the Len Fox Painting Prize (2022).

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“It’s important because we are, as Indigenous people, natural storytellers, and we can tell the story of our country through our songs and dance, but we also can interpret that into another medium through art and contemporary art.

"This piece is based on our story place up on the Island called Mundarlbi Reef.

"In the dance there’s dancers that represent the rock, and dancers that represent the wave; and in the actions of the dance, you see that the dancers imitating the wave are bashing up against the rock trying to bash that rock down, but the rock always remains.

"The key message is that no matter what happens in life, try to be strong like the rock, no matter what comes over you, tries to wash over you; always remember to be strong like the rock, Mundarlbi.”

- Renee Wilson.


The unveiling of the artwork at NRL Cowboys House included the presentation of the official House polo to students, with young people in year 12 tasked with handing out the shirts to their younger peers.

NRL Cowboys House General Manager Rochelle Jones said the occasion marks a milestone event for the House every year.

"We want the students to make sure they understand it's not just a shirt, there's meaning within that shirt and there's meaning for one of our communities where we have 12 students boarding from," she said.

"They're really brave, they leave home and come away to go to boarding, so this is one of those special things I hope they realise helps keep them connected to family and to their communities."


“The painting is about a reef on Mornington Island called Mundarlbi. It is a traditional dance that is performed by us; in the dance you can see the actions represent waves and the reef with the waves trying to wash the reef away, but the reef remains.

“The story of this teaches us to be strong like the Mundarlbi reef.

“We can use this in our everyday life because it teaches us to never let anything bring us down.

“It teaches us Pride, Strength and Resilience that generates from our foundations and connections like Identity, Family, Culture and Country.”

“Mundarlbi is a traditional Lardil song that was Dreamt by one of our senior songmen Cecil ‘Ngawalin’ Goodman, Ngawalin meaning “hard rock”. This painting is a dedication to him as he has now passed on.”

The NRL Cowboys House polo features artist Renee Wilson’s design entitled ‘Mundarlbi’, and is part of the Cowboys’ 2023 Indigenous range on sale closer to NRL Indigenous Round (Round 12) at