An Outback Adventure

We celebrated the winter solstice by taking delivery of our brand new Subaru Outback. The purchase had been planned for some time and much research went in before making our selection.

Our first full drive was to the Mornington Peninsula – old stomping ground. We chose the motorways and country roads we knew to test out the unfamiliar features.

Then it was off to the outback – well Victoria’s outback of the Wimmera region in the state’s north west, to see the Yarriambiack Silo Art Trail.

The first bulk handling silo in Australia was built in 1919 at Peak Hill in NSW. It was not until the late 1930s that silos were built in Victoria. They were typically built alongside railway lines, for fast transportation to docks and factories.

Farmers would bring in their bagged grain, which would be emptied into a receiving grate and elevated to the top of the silo. It was an effective way to hygienically store and distribute grain.

With the advent of current mechanisation and larger transport trucks, the silos became inefficient and many were closed down. About half of the 148 silos in Victoria are now not in use.

Since 2015, GrainCorp, who owns the silos, has supported silo art projects with the aim of reinvigorating some of Australia’s smallest regional towns.

There are many painted silos in Australia, but the Yarriambiack Shire has made an art trail of those in their region.

I saved the locations in MapsME on our travel Android phone and I have been looking for the best way to import them into WordPress. Many plugins import KML files as a premium addition, however I have found Flexible Maps does it simply. If you click on a red pin, a description will be displayed. So here is our journey:

We stayed in Warracknabeal, which is quite central to the art work. We arrived on Sunday and the options for dinner were limited. We chose the ‘Creek Hotel’ which became our preferred place for the following nights. It was lively and the food was good. Bruce even found decent beer there!

Our motel was close to the Yarriambiack Creek, which provided a nice walk to the Creek Hotel.

We were shocked at the number of empty shops in Warracknabeal and the other towns we visited. Those shops that were occupied were bakeries, butchers (one in each town), hairdressers and second hand shops. Many pubs were shut up. I guess that is indicative of the tough life in the country.

On Monday we drove north to see silos at Brim, Rosebery, Lascelles and Patchewollock. We were lucky with the weather and brilliant blue skies.

We made other stops to see some interesting installations at round-abouts in Warracknabeal and Minyip, and to see a mural by Kaff-eine in Beulah.

Guido van Helten’s iconic Brim mural was the first silo artwork to appear in Victoria in 2015, and initiated further art in the area. He depicts an anonymous, multi-generational quartet of female and male farmers.

Kaff-eine created a art work in Rosebery, capturing the grit, tenacity and character of a young female farmer and a contemporary horseman in common attire of Akubra hat and oilskin vest.

Rone’s work in Lascelles depicts a farming couple Geoff and Merrilyn Horman representing families who have farmed the district for generations. The art is muted in colour and it was particularly challenging to photograph Merrilyn.

Fintan Magee was challenged to paint on a narrow 35 metre high silo in Patchewollock. He used it to portray Nick “Noodle” Hulland, a local, lanky, fair-haired, squinting, archetypal Aussie farmer.

On Tuesday we drove south to see silos at Sheep Hills and Rupanyup, then continued west on to Dimboola to see the Pink Lake. The day was overcast, so photographs were a little more challenging.

Adnate created an aboriginal mural on the silos of Sheeps Hill. The magnificent mural which depicts Wergaia Elder, Uncle Ron Marks, and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood, alongside two young children, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald celebrates the richness of the area’s Indigenous culture.

Julia Volchkova painted on squat silos in Rupanyup. The art work represents the youth of Rupanyup and their great love of team sport. The art is monochromatic and delicate.

We stopped at Dimboola for lunch. Our hosts at the motel had recommended we go to the Victoria Hotel for lunch, but it was closed. The beautiful building was opened for business in September 1924 and has been a popular watering hole ever since, except on Tuesdays at lunch time.

After finding a suitable sandwich we drove out to the Pink Lake just to the west of Dimboola. The pink colour of the water comes from a pigment secreted by microscopic algae. Alas there was little pink as the clouds created a very dull light.

In researching the silos I found it very difficult to find history of when the silos were built and how they were used. On the other hand I was fascinated by the stories of the artists. Many started their life in art as graffiti artists but now travel the world following passions such as indigenous people and refugees. They paint murals in places such as Jordan, Ukraine, Finland and Mexico. Truely amazing stories!

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