Have you heard? Silo art is all the rage
Concrete eyesores become the perfect muse.
Who would have thought slapping some paint on an old wheat silo would become a craze? Vandals have been tagging them for decades, but now authentic artists are volunteering their time and skill to create some magical works. The Yarriambiack Shire in Western Victoria has been working on ways to improve the local economy by increasing tourism and tourist dollar spend. They started by creating several superb free camping sites and establishing several RV Friendly towns. But more was needed to give visitors a reason to visit the region, so they created Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery.
Stretching over 200km, the Silo Art Trail provides an insight into the Mallee culture and was first conceived in 2016 when the Brim silo showed how successful the concept would become. A small project by the Brim Active Community Group, Grain Corp, Judy Potter and artist Guido Van Helten has morphed into a phenomenon beyond expectations. Heading cross country from Cohuna to Hopetoun, I scored a powered site beside Lake Lascelles, one of the best free campsites in Victoria. As the sky turned purple, I enjoyed dinner by the water, washed down with a nice glass of red.
Waking refreshed, I relaxed under a hot shower before cooking up some B&E sangas while the coffee brewed. The road north leads to Patchewallock and the silo on the trail painted by Brisbane artist Fintan Magee in 2016. Grain farmer Nick ‘Noodle’ Hulland stands tall on the thin silo, epitomising a Mallee farmer. The first part of the day is the best to view this silo as the sun highlights Nick.
I decided to head out to the Snowdrift at nearby Wyperfeld National Park. The bitumen soon ran out and the corrugated dirt road guided me. Parking in the shade I tried climbing to the top of the enormous white dune that stretched before me. The sand, heated by the sun, was too soft and I couldn’t make any headway. Giving up, I enjoyed a sandwich before returning to Patchewallock.
The hamlet of Lascelles was the next stop where Melbourne Street Artist Rone has represented Geoff and Merrilyn Horman on the silo beside the railway line. Born and bred in the Lascelles community, the humble couple were selected as the subjects to forever watch over their hometown. I ran into a couple from Western Australia driving a 1959 FC Holden towing a beautiful teardrop camper trailer, passing through on their way to Canberra.
From Lascelles detour to Woomelang and check out the Inland Carpet Python mural on the wall of the General Store. Painted by street artist Andrew ‘Sirum’ Bourke he wanted to raise awareness for this critically endangered species. I also wanted to look at the free camping area at Crombie Tanks. Originally constructed for the railway, these earthen dams have now been linked to provide a great spot to camp, fish or just enjoy a picnic. Arriving back in Hopetoun, there were no powered sites left (you must get in early), so I found a spot right along the shore and relaxed with a cold beverage.
There are plenty of great places to grab a bite as I explored the Shire further. Bacon and Eggs from the Hopetoun Café were enjoyed before heading to the nearby town of Rosebery. The Mallee Sunset Gallery occupies the white timber church on your right as you enter Rosebery, the silo is 200m further along on your left.
When Kaff-eine began developing the concept for the silos, she decided to portray images that she felt personified the region’s past, present and future. This silo is best viewed in the afternoon. A little further on is the Brim silo. The first and most iconic, this artwork is best photographed in the late afternoon and at sunset and is currently the only silo with night lights. The nearby campground at Redda’s Park on the Yarriambiack Creek is the perfect place to spend the night.
Stock up supplies and fuel at Warracknabeal before taking the road towards Minyip. On the way, you’ll reach Sheep Hills, my favourite, and the most colourful of all the silos. Melbourne Street Artist Adnate’s portraits are symbolic to the local people, with Wergaia Elder Uncle Ron Marks, Wotjobaluk Elder Auntie Regina Hood and children Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald towering above the plains. It’s well worth taking a close look at this work, especially the children’s eyes.
Some of you may recognise Minyip as you pass through. Once known as “Coopers Crossing” it was the town featured in the television series “The Flying Doctors” back in the 1980’s. For a tenner, you can camp at the picturesque Minyip Wetlands and Caravan Park.
Just south of Minyip is Rupanyup, where Russian mural artist Julia Volchkova spent time before deciding on her muse. Discovering a close-knit community where sport plays an important part in bringing everyone together, she decided to feature local sportspeople Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann and highlight the role sport plays in binding a rural community. This silo is best viewed first thing in the morning.
You’ll also find three more murals by Street Artist Georgie Goodie, two depicting firefighters. One is on the wall of the old shire building, the second on the wall of (ironically) a house that was burnt down. There’s also a mural in the beer garden of the Rupanyup Hotel and I can recommend the cold beer and Chicken Parma. If you’re camped at the Memorial Park, it’s an easy walk to the silo and into town.
The highlight to this trip and one you must factor in is in the quaint town of Murtoa. As you drive into town, just before crossing the rail line, check out the enormous shed on your left. This is the Murtoa Stick Shed and it blew my mind.
Constructed in 1942, it was used to store grain that couldn’t be exported due to World War Two and was still in use up until 1989. Open to the public on the first Sunday of every month, you’ll need to hold your chin when you walk in and see the 560 poles used to keep the shed standing. It…is…..enormous! It used to hold 95,000 tonnes of wheat, is 270 metres long, 60 metres wide and 19 metres high and was built to sway.
That concludes the Silo Art Trail, but you can expect more silo art to appear in the Yarriambiack Shire in the future, with up to 20 silos being the final number. Stay tuned.
Distance from Melbourne to Hopetoun, 386km via the Calder Hwy (A79), Birchip-Wycheproof Rd (C268 & C243) and Henty Hwy (B200) Hopetoun has Lake Lascelles and Hopetoun Caravan Park; Woomelang has the Travellers Rest and Cronomby Tanks; Brim has Redda’s Park; Minyip has the Caravan Rest Stop; Rupanyap has the Memorial Park; Murtoa has a caravan park. You can catch Yellowbelly in the lake at Beulah, check out Wood’s Farming and Heritage Museum at Rupanyup, walk around the Wheatlands Machinery Museum in Warracknabeal, explore Wyperfeld National Park and sample more art at The Stockman’s Hut Gallery at Lascelles.