Take a Drive Along North East Victoria’s Silo Art Trail – Just 33 Kilometres From the First Silos to the Last In mid-April 2019, I travelled with a small…
Take a Drive Along North East Victoria’s Silo Art Trail – Just 33 Kilometres From the First Silos to the Last
In mid-April 2019, I travelled with a small group to view North East Victoria’s silo artwork. I returned in December 2020 because artists had completed painting silos or had painted additional murals since my last visit. My return trip included a friend who was eager for a day out and interested in viewing the updated silo artworks.
This post is an updated version of the original post, “Unique Silo Art Celebrates Local Communities and Fauna”. Originally published May 6, 2019, it was updated January 10, 2021; providing up-to-date information and photos.
Empty grain silos are scattered around rural Australia. Silo art projects (the first being undertaken in 2015) have become a national phenomenon, appearing in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australian, South Australia, and Queensland. The silos provide a canvas for creations that are, hopefully, reinvigorating some of Australia’s smallest and remote regional towns. Considered to be a lifesaver for rural communities by bringing tourism to towns that have been seriously struggling due to economic decline, towns expect the painted silos will breathe new life into their districts.
Perhaps the best known are the painted silos in western Victoria; in the Wimmera-Mallee region. These six painted silos stretch for 200 kilometres from Rupanyup in the south to Patchewollock in the north.
Located in four small towns between Yarrawonga and Benalla – Tungamah, St James, Devenish and Goorambat – the painted silos of North East Victoria are relatively recent attractions to these towns, with the first painting completed in 2018. At a distance of 33 kilometres from the first silos to the last, they are close to each other.
Why you should see the silo artworks
This is street art at its best.
The murals are painted on an unusual ‘canvas’.
The artworks are in a public space; in open-air galleries, open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. And they are free to visit.
It is artwork on a massive scale. How many paintings do you know that require an extended cherry picker to complete?
The murals painted on the silos depict local history and fauna; giving an insight into the area.
The silos themselves have been ‘painted’ on Australia’s rural landscape since the 1920s.
Google map of Wodonga to Tungamah silo art
Coming from Wodonga, North East Victoria’s silo artworks are an easy one-day road trip. From this direction, the first painted silos are at Tungamah; about 1 and a half hours from Wodonga.
Leaving Wodonga on the M31 (Sydney to Melbourne freeway), turn off at the Rutherglen/Yarrawonga exit (B400; Murray Valley Highway). At Rutherglen, take the C372 to Tungamah; skirting the towns of Bundalong South, Yarrawonga South and Boomahnoomoonah (no, I have not made up this name).
Coming from Melbourne is not, in my opinion, a day road trip. The first painted silos from this direction are at Goorambat – a distance of 228 kilometres; taking about 2 and a half hours. Staying overnight in Benalla might be a good option.
From Melbourne, take the M31 (Melbourne to Sydney freeway) to Benalla. At Benalla, take the A300 to Goorambat.
Google map of Melbourne to Goorambat silo art
Tungamah silo art
The privately-owned Tungamah concrete silo highlights Australia’s dancing Brolga. Famed for their elaborate courtship dance, Brolgas are Australia’s most iconic birds. There is even an Australian Christmas carol about dancing Brolgas.
Several traditional Aboriginal legends and dances are associated with the Brolga, with movements mimicking their graceful performance.
The Kookaburra painted on the metal silo is a well-known symbol of Australia’s birdlife. The Kookaburra is also the inspirational subject of a children’s song.
The Brolgas and Kookaburra completed the first stage (February 2018) of the Tungamah silo artwork. In September 2019, the artist returned to paint other birdlife, filling in the silo around the Kookaburra. A Pink and Grey Galah, a Kingfisher, an Owl, a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, two Blue Wrens, and an Ibis were painted on the metal silo to complete the mural. Can you spot the Owl hiding in the leaves and the Ibis sitting among the grasses?
Australian native birds painted on the silos in Tungamah
Western Australian street artist, Sobrane painted the birdlife on the Tungamah silos using spray cans and roller. Internationally known for her signature bird-inspired art, Sobrane was the first Australian female artist to take on a silo art project.
St James silo art
The GrainCorp-owned wheat silos at St James, painted in sepia tones, represent the life of yesteryear. The portrait on the concrete silo to the left in the first photo below is that of Sir George Coles, the founder of Coles supermarkets and a local of St James. His first store opened in 1910 in St James township; with the shopfront captured on the silo under his portrait.
The murals were a work in progress at the time of my first visit in April 2019. The Clydesdale horses carting bags of wheat was being painted at the time of my visit in 2019. Depicting how farmers historically delivered their grain to the silos, motor vehicles eventually replaced the horse and cart.
The mural on the concrete silo to the right in the first photo below, a blank canvas in April 2019, shows two local men sowing up bags of wheat in readiness for transport.
Local artist, Timothy Bowtell painted the murals on the St James silos. Timothy is due to complete the horse and cart mural by the end of April 2019.
Devenish silo art
Focusing on nurses’ role in service and how that role has evolved, this artwork is a visual tribute to the 50 young men and women from the Devenish community who enlisted in military service in the First World War. The paintings represent a First World War nurse’s historical image juxtaposed with that of a female combat medic, whilst highlighting the role women play in military service.
Melbourne street artist, Cam Scale, has captured the past and present and acknowledges the critical role our medical personnel play in caring for military and civilians during wars and national disasters, including peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Completed after my first visit to the North East silo artworks, Cam has painted a World War One Australian Light Horseman and his horse on Devenish’s final silo.
Medic, nurse, and Light Horseman with his horse painted on the silos in Devenish
Cam Scale is a well-renown fine artist and mural painter in Australia; exhibiting work in galleries across Australia and internationally.
Cam works primarily with aerosol, oil and acrylic, specialising in large-scale figures and portraits.
Goorambat silo art
The Barking Owl painted on the concrete silo is a tribute to this endangered species. With fewer than 50 breeding pairs in the wild, the Barking Owl is the most threatened owl in Victoria. North East Victoria remains a stronghold for wild populations.
Ironbark is the Barking Owl’s habitat. This tree is depicted in the forefront of the typical, Australiana farming scene on the second silo.
The third silo features three Clydesdale horses that resided in Goorambat. Clydesdales are an intricate part of the Goorambat area. They are literally the work-horses of the country and rural areas like Goorambat might not exist without them.
Clydesdales mural at Goorambat
Jimmy Dvate is a Melbourne based artist and graphic designer. He is passionate about conservation and is particularly keen to highlight the plight of endangered species.
While in Goorambat, don’t miss the beautiful mural of “Sophia” painted by the artist, Adnate inside Goorambat’s Uniting Church. Painted in 2017, Sophia was created to depict the female aspect of the Holy Spirit. This tradition draws on God’s spirit as manifested in the Old Testament times and the post-Pentecostal period. Sophia is by nature wise, nurturing, comforting, inspirational and ever-present.
‘Sophia’ mural painting in the Uniting Church at Goorambat
You can visit “Sophia” daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Where to eat
On my first visit to the North East Victoria silo artworks, we had morning tea, cake and coffee, at the heritage-listed Tungamah Hotel. I recommend the lemon slice.
However, I strongly suggest contacting Tungamah Hotel to check their opening hours if wanting morning tea. My friend and I arrived in Tungamah at 10.30 am, only to find the pub closed. I later found out the pub had opened specifically for the group booking in April 2019.
There is a general store across the road from Tungamah Hotel where my friend and I ordered coffee. I don’t know what beans they were using, but the coffee would have to be one of the worst I have ever tasted.
On the group trip (2019), we lunched at Goorambat’s Railway Hotel. With an extensive, reasonably priced menu, we were spoilt for choice. My hamburger was delicious.
As Benalla is only a 15-minute drive from Goorambat, and we were free agents not tied to the demands of a group, my friend and I decided, on this revisit trip, to lunch in Benalla rather than at Goorambat’s Railway Hotel. We lunched at Bouwmeesters Bakery on Bridge Street. With so many cafes available in Benalla, we could have made a wiser choice.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Joanna Rath.
Comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post. Tell me which of the silo art featured in this post is your favourite.
If you like this post, PIN it for keeps.
To read more on silo art in Victoria, click on the links below:
Sculptures Beside the Murray River in Albury Showcase Local Aboriginal Culture Aboriginal sculptures along a walking/cycling track beside the Murray River in the Australian bush – this is the…
Sculptures Beside the Murray River in Albury Showcase Local Aboriginal Culture
Aboriginal sculptures along a walking/cycling track beside the Murray River in the Australian bush – this is the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk.
Yindyamarra: respect; go slowly; do properly.
The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk in Albury is a 5.3-kilometre (return) section of the much longer Wagirra Trail (15 kilometres return, linking Wonga Wetlands with the South Albury Trail). Following the Murray River, the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk stretches from the Kremur Street boat ramp (off Padman Drive in West Albury) to Horseshoe Lagoon (accessed via the Riverina Highway). You can do the walk in the reverse direction.
Completed in December 2014, there are nine contemporary sculptures along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk created by Aboriginal artists telling stories of their living culture. The sculptures are accompanied by explanatory panels, with videos available via smartphone that narrate the story of Aboriginal history and the cultural significance of the Murray River. The sculptures are a celebration of local Aboriginal culture.
Bicycle riders, walkers, and joggers share the predominantly flat, 2-metre-wide sealed path. Dogs on leads are permitted.
Albury, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River (Australia’s longest river), is located in Wiradjuri Country – the traditional lands of the Aboriginal Wiradjuri people.
Yindyamarra is a word from the Wiradjuri language, meaning respect, be gentle, be polite, and do slowly.
This post is written from experience as I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three times. Refer to the end of this post to know the lessons I have learned from walking the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three times.
At the time of writing, the signage showing where the location of the sculptures was not up to date. Starting at Kremur Street boat ramp, the sculptures end 750 metres beyond Horseshoe Lagoon.
Map of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk with the location of the sculptures. I have added the handwritten names of the sculptures at their appropriate location.
Starting your walk from the Kremur Street boat ramp:
Artist: Tamara Murray. Tamara is a Barkandji on her mother’s side and Yorta Yorta on her Dad’s side.
For Tamara, the Reconciliation Shield represents bringing everyone together – to work together, walk together and live together; to make everything better, especially for the next generation. ‘The figure depicted is holding his hands in a position of submission. Enough is enough – we all need to walk together on this journey of reconciliation.’
Artists: James Fallon High School. The standing goanna by Liam Campbell (Wiradjuri), the turtle by Sara Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), the snake by Raymond Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), and the climbing goanna by Jaidyon Hampton (Malyangaba).
Under the mentorship from the Aboriginal Men’s Shed and the local community, the students sculpted these creatures. In doing so, the students created a space where stories can be told, and local animal life can be celebrated.
Artist: Darren Wighton. Darren is a community leader of Wiradjuri descent.
‘Googar’ is the Wiradjuri word for ‘goanna’. At 4 metres in length, Darren’s Googar sculpture is a larger-than-life version of a small wooden toy goanna that Wiradjuri children would play with and learn from in traditional times.
Artist: Leonie McIntosh. Leonie is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
Leonie’s Wiradjuri Woman sculpture is based on the Possum Skin Cloak design burnt on her Nan’s cloak which she wore for the opening ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Leonie has created a sculpture of Wiradjuri Woman emerging out of this 350 – 400-year-old tree stump – ‘as if a spirit is breaking free’.
Vertical Message Sticks
Artist: Carmel Taylor. Carmel is a Wiradjuri woman.
The message sticks are a celebration of Carmel’s knowledge of the natural history of the river.
Carmel tells us she chose the theme of animals because she genuinely loves them, and they are native to the Albury area; bringing much joy to children and adults.
An echidna scurries into the bush
Bogong Moth Migration
Artist: Ruth Davys. Ruth is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
The Bogong Moth is a creature of cultural significance for Indigenous Australians.
Traditionally, each year the Indigenous people of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria would meet at Mungabareena Reserve (Albury) to perform ceremonies, exchange goods and discuss tribal lore. They would then travel to the high country (Victoria’s Alpine region) to feast on Bogong Moths.
‘Maya’ Fish Trap
Artists: Uncle Ken (Tunny) Murray, Darren Wighton and Andom Rendell, from the Aboriginal Men’s Shed.
This over-proportioned sculpture is of a funnel style fish trap that was commonly used by the Wiradjuri people in the Albury area. These traps were woven from reeds and could even be customised to trap specific fish as well as allowing smaller fish to escape, thus protecting the species for the future.
Artist: Kianna Edwards. Kianna is a young Wiradjuri woman from Albury.
Kianna comments, “This Goanna represents one of the main totems for the Wiradjuri Nation. It holds a significant place in my spirit. It’s my totem. My story. My culture.”
The Bigger Picture
Artist: Katrina Weston. Katrina is an Aboriginal person from the Barkindji/Nyampa tribes.
According to Katrina, the purpose of the oversized picture frame is so we can see over the years to come how the landscape changes within the frame.
The picture within the frame is a moving, living landscape with many stories to be told and shared. It will bring people together to share traditional stories. The picture frame represents movement and change for Aboriginal people who are evolving to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
Signalling the commencement of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is, Teaming Life of Milawa Billa (Murray River) created by the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk Steering Committee – Daniel Cledd, Robyn Heckenberg, John Murray, Aunty Edna Stewart, and Aunty Muriel Williams.
This artwork is located at the Kremur Street boat ramp picnic area. The design draws together significant elements from the natural environment of the Murray River – the birds, the fish, the reeds, and the yabby – telling the story of the health of the river.
At Kremur Street boat ramp you will find free parking, public toilets, and picnic area.
Picnic area on the banks of the Murray River at Kremur Street boat ramp, Albury
Horseshoe Lagoon has parking off the Riverina Highway but has no toilets or picnic facilities. From the parking area, it is a couple of minutes’ walk to join the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk trail.
Albury is a large inland city in New South Wales on the banks of the Murray River – Australia’s longest river. It is 553 kilometres south-west of Sydney via the Hume Highway and 326 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.
The Murray River at Noreuil Park in Albury, New South Wales
There are plans underfoot by Albury City Council to add another loop to the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. The new loop, expected to be completed in July 2021, will start at the Vertical Message Sticks, with the current dirt track to be sealed, and will include the installation of 3 new sculptures.
Lessons learned from having walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk previously:
The first time I walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my sister. We commenced our walk at Noreuil Park and walked to Wonga Wetlands. As the car was at Noreuil Park, we had no alternative but to walk back the way we had come. This walk was a 14-kilometre round trip. By the time we were halfway back on our return journey, we could barely lift our feet and couldn’t talk to each other.
My second attempt at the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my daughter. We left the car at Noreuil Park (I must be a slow learner) and headed out on the walk. About a kilometre from Wonga Wetlands (6 kilometres walked), my daughter could see I was flagging. So, you can imagine, I jumped at her suggestion to sit in the shade of a tree while she jogged back for the car. Oh, to be young and fit!
My third walk along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with two friends. I insisted we have a car at either end of the walk as I have now (finally) learned my walking limitations. Not knowing the signage showing the locations of the sculptures was out-of-date, we left a car at Kremur Street Boat Ramp and drove to Wonga Wetlands where we left the second car and commenced our walk.
So, what have I learned? Walk between Horseshoe Lagoon and Kremur Street Boat Ramp (or vice versa), with a car at either end, while detouring slightly to The Bigger Picture sculpture. Don’t forget to take water.
What my friends had to say about the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk:
For those bird lovers out there, one of my friends recommends taking binoculars as there are several species of birds to spot along the walk.
Both friends thoroughly enjoyed the walk (described as a ‘leisurely stroll’ by one), and they commented on the number of birds, wildlife and plants seen along the way. As one friend said, seating along the walk would have been good – to absorb a sculpture, to sit and watch the river flow past, and to contemplate the landscape.
I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three time now and have not tired of seeing the sculptures. My friends felt the sculptures showcased the artistic abilities of the local men and women of the surrounding indigenous tribes while telling their own unique stories.
I, my two friends, my daughter and my sister, recommend the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. With the sculptures, the river and the surrounding bush, it is an exceptional walk.
Comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post.
If you like this post, PIN it for keeps.
Still on an art theme in Australia, check out the posts below I wrote on the unique silo art in Victoria; they’re packed with amazing photos, information, and tips:
Take a road trip with a difference – travel along the Silo Art Trail in Victoria, Australia. See how disused grain silos have been transformed into unusual, towering art canvases….
Take a road trip with a difference – travel along the Silo Art Trail in Victoria, Australia. See how disused grain silos have been transformed into unusual, towering art canvases. Each canvas is unique, with murals reflecting the people, landscape and culture of the community in which they appear.
Empty grain silos are scattered around rural Australia. Silo art projects (with the first being undertaken in 2015) have become a national phenomenon; appearing in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australian, South Australia, and Queensland. The silos provide a canvas for creations that are reinvigorating some of Australia’s smallest and most remote regional towns. They have become a lifesaver for rural communities; bringing tourism to towns that have been seriously struggling due to economic decline. These towns now have a future.
Perhaps the best-known silo art project is the painted silos in Western Victoria; in the Wimmera Mallee region. Here, there are 6 painted silos stretching for a distance of 200 kilometres from Rupanyup in the south (if coming from Ballarat, as we did) to Patchewollock in the north. This is the Silo Art Trail.
My sister and I took a 12-day road trip around parts of Victoria at the end of April – from Albury to Bendigo, to Ballarat, to Hopetoun, to Sea Lake, to Rochester, and back to Albury. The road trip deliberately incorporated the Silo Art Trail in the Wimmera Mallee region as I had read so much about it and had a strong desire to see the murals for myself. This desire was heightened after visiting the silo art in North-East Victoria.
Silo Art Trail
The Silo Art Trail is Australia’s largest outdoor gallery. The trail stretches over 200 kilometres in Victoria’s Wimmera Mallee region; linking the towns of Rupanyup, Sheep Hills, Brim, Rosebery, Lascelles, and Patchewollock.
Providing an insight into the true spirit of the Wimmera Mallee, the trail recognises and celebrates the region’s people through a series of large-scale mural portraits painted onto grain silos, many of which date back to the 1930s.
The national and international artists whose murals appear on the silos spent time visiting the region and meeting the locals before transforming each grain silo into an epic work of art; with each mural telling a unique story about the host town.
The level of detail the artists have achieved in their murals is impressive. Something I find astonishing given the scale of the artworks. How do you create such fine detail with an aerosol can?
The Silo Art Trail was conceived in 2016 after the success of the first artwork in Brim. What started as a small community project by the Brim Active Community Group to save their town from extinction, resulted in widespread international media attention and an influx of visitors to the region and the idea for the trail was born.
The Silo Art Trail was created as a partnership between Yarriambiack Shire Council, international street art agency Juddy Roller, the Victorian Government, and the Australian Government; with the silos donated by GrainCorp as canvases for the artists’ works.
Whether in a car, motorhome or towing a caravan, parking is not a problem at any of the silos.
Why you should visit the Silo Art Trail
This is street art at its best.
The murals are painted on unusual canvases.
The silo artworks are in public spaces; in outdoor galleries that are open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. And they are free to visit.
It is artwork on a massive scale. How many paintings do you know that require an extended cherry picker to complete?
The murals painted on the silos depict local community members; giving an insight into the area.
Grain silos have been ‘painted’ on Australia’s landscape since the 1920s.
The Silo Art Trail is Australia’s ultimate road trip.
While the trip can be done in any direction, I am going to take you from Rupanyup in the south to Patchewollock in the north – the direction we took on our road trip.
From Melbourne to Bendigo is 151 kilometres (94 miles; approximately a 2-hour drive). From Bendigo to Rupanyup is 169 kilometres (105 miles; approximately a 2-hour drive)
From Melbourne to Ballarat is 112 kilometres (69 miles; a 1-hour and 39-minute drive). From Ballarat to Rupanyup is 177 kilometres (110 miles; a 2-hour drive).
As you can see, it is really neither here nor there as to whether you arrive in Rupanyup from Melbourne via Bendigo or via Ballarat. My preference would be to travel via Bendigo, an historic gold mining town with some of the best food we had on the whole road trip. Historic Bendigo Pottery is worth a visit. Don’t miss Bendigo Pottery’s museum.
Other helpful distances:
> From Bendigo to Patchewollock is 284 kilometres (176 miles). Allowing 30 minutes at each mural, the trip would take approximately 6 hours, 11 minutes.
> From Ballarat to Patchewollock is 332 kilometres (206 miles) allowing 30 minutes at each mural, the trip would take approximately 6 hours, 42 minutes.
> From Patchewollock to Sea Lake (possible accommodation option) is 73 kilometres (45 miles) – a 50-minute drive.
> From Patchewollock to Mildura (possible accommodation option) is 141 kilometres (88 miles) – a drive time of approximately 1 hour, 38 minutes.
> From Patchewollock to Swan Hill (possible accommodation option) is 145 kilometres (90 miles) – a drive time of approximately 1 hour, 36 minutes.
You don’t have to have to have a car to see the silo art. While we rarely saw anyone else at the silos, a quick internet search reveals there are bus tours from Melbourne (Victoria) and Albury (New South Wales) that travel the Silo Art Trail. However, it would appear they don’t visit all the silos.
Rupanyup silo art
Rupanyup silo art of young people from local sporting teams on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
Completed early 2017, the faces featured on the silos are those of Rupanyup residents and local sporting team members, Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann. Dressed in their sports uniforms (netball and Australian Rules football, respectively), the mural captures the spirit of community while honouring the integral role that sport and community play in rural Australia.
Rupanyup’s silo art is the work of Russian mural artist, Julia Volchkova. The monochromatic work is typical of Volchkova’s realist portraiture style. And avid traveller, her frequent travels have resulted in numerous large-scale murals of local people in Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere around the world.
Sheep Hills silo art
Sheep Hills silo art of Aboriginal Australians on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
Melbourne-based artist, Adnate is known for using his artwork to tell stories of Indigenous people and their native lands; particularly those of Aboriginal Australians. He painted the mural on the silos at Sheep Hills in 2016 after spending 4 weeks with the community. He found his inspiration for the mural after developing a friendship with the Barengi Gadin Land Council in North-East Victoria.
Through his portraits of Wergaia Elder, Uncle Ron Marks, and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood, alongside two young children, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald, Adnate celebrates the richness of the area’s Indigenous culture.
The night sky in the mural represents elements of local dreaming and the overall image signifies the important exchange of wisdom, knowledge and customs from Elders to the next generation.
Featuring a bold use of block colours via acrylic and spray paint, Adnate’s portraits are known for introducing a strong energetic presence to their surroundings. Described as “life-like” and “emotive”, his large-scale murals can be found in various settings throughout Australia and around the world; including the mural he painted inside Goorambat’s Uniting Church in North-East Victoria.
Brim silo art
Brim silo art of multi-generational male and female farmers on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
Although the third silo artwork along the Silo Art Trail (travelling from Melbourne), the mural painted on the disused GrainCorp silos at Brim was the first to be painted in Victoria and was the inspiration for the Silo Art Trail.
Painted by world renown Australian street artist, Guido van Helten, his mural of four, anonymous, multi-generational farmers (3 men and 1 woman) was completed in January 2016. Van Helten’s subjects bear expressions that exemplify the strength and resilience of the local farming community as they face immense economic pressure and the tangible consequences of climate change. His work captures the spirit of the local area and connects the characters to their chosen place; infusing the landscape with a comforting, familiar presence.
Celebrating everyday characters in forgotten places, van Helten’s monochromatic, photorealistic style offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of others. His large-scale portraiture murals, found in Ukraine, Norway, Italy, Denmark and Iceland, tell stories of culture, history and identity in an effort to capture the soul of people and place.
Rosebery silo art
Rosebery silo art of female farmer and horseman with his horse on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
The silo on the left captures the grit, tenacity and character of the region’s young female farmers, who regularly face drought, fires and other hardships living and working in the Wimmera Mallee. In her work shirt, jeans and turned-down cowboy boots, the strong young female sheep farmer symbolises the future.
The silo on the right portrays the familiar connection between man and horse. The contemporary horseman appears in Akubra hat, Bogs boots and oilskin vest – common attire for Wimmera Mallee farmers. Both man and horse are relaxed and facing downward, indicating their mutual trust, love and genuine connection.
Completed in late 2017 by the successful, internationally renowned street artist, Kaff-eine, her Rosebery mural depicts themes that she says embody the region’s past, present and future.
Combining creativity with a strong social conscience, Kaff-eine makes art and film projects in marginalised communities around the world, with her work inviting audiences to engage with social and political issues. Kaff-eine describes her practice from photorealistic to darkly sensual stylised characters as “loaded with symbolism and narrative”.
Lascelles silo art
The murals here of the local farming couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman can never be photographed together because they are on opposite sides of two grain silos. The Horman’s are part of a family who have lived and farmed in the area for four generations.
Painted by Rone in mid-2017, he wanted the mural to portray his subjects as wise and knowing; nurturing the town’s future with their vast farming experience and longstanding connection to the area.
Rone worked for two weeks to transform the two 1939-built GrainCorp silos. He went to great lengths to paint in the silo’s existing raw concrete tones to produce a work that would integrate sensitivity into its environment. Utilising this muted monochrome palette, he added water to his paint as a blending tool to produce a ghostly, transparent effect – a signature of his distinctive painting style.
An influential figure in Australia’s early street art scene, Rone is perhaps best known for his large-scale “Jane Doe” portraits, featuring beautiful young women painted onto old, decaying backgrounds. This interplay between beauty and decay is a key theme throughout his work; emphasising the fleeting nature of beauty and encouraging audiences to appreciate it while it lasts.
Patchewollock silo art
Patchewollock silo art of local farmer, Nick “Noodle” Holland on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
To prepare his Patchewollock mural, Brisbane artist, Fintan Magee booked a room at the local pub to immerse himself in the local community and to get to know its people. When he met local sheep and grain farmer, Nick “Noodle” Hulland, Magee knew he had found his subject.
The face of local farmer, Nick Holland on the Patchewollock silo on Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
Why Hulland? According to Magee, the rugged, lanky local exemplified the no-nonsense, hardworking spirit of the region. Perhaps more importantly though, Noodle had just the right height and leanness to neatly fit onto the narrow, 35-metre-high canvas of the twin 1939-built GrainCorp silos.
Completed in late 2016, the Magee’s depiction of the famously reserved Hulland portrays an image of the archetypical Aussie farmer – faded blue “flanny” (flannelette shirt) and all. Hulland’s solemn expression, sun-bleached hair and squinting gaze speak to the harshness of the environment and the challenges of life in the Wimmera Mallee.
Combining surreal and figurative imagery with a trained artist’s discipline and technical skill, Magee’s work explores global themes and climate change, displacement and migration, as well as environmental issues such as his family’s experience in the devasting 2011 Brisbane floods. Understanding that not everyone has access to art galleries, Magee aims to make art more accessible to isolated communities and general public.
In October 2019 (after our visit), Sea Lake, just a 50-minute drive from Patchewollock, completed a mural on its town silos, donated by GrainCorp. Thus, joining Victoria’s Silo Art Trail.
The mural, painted by Drapl and The Zookeeper, depicts a young indigenous girl swinging from a Mallee Eucalyptus tree as she gazes over Lake Tyrrell. A powerful Wedge Tail Eagle soars above the girl and emus run off into the night.
Lake Tyrrell is a large inland saltwater lake; an 8-minute drive from Sea Lake. The water in the lake is never more than ankle deep; creating fabulous reflections, especially at sunset. This was the reason we stayed at Sea Lake. But more about that in another post.
When to go
Autumn, in my opinion, March to May, is the best time in Australia. The sting of intense heat wanes, the bush comes alive, the landscape changes colour, the desert sprouts, and the people wake from their summer stupor.
Where to eat
Sub-standard food (with a few exceptions), poor food choices due to limited options, or non-existent food outlets, was a common theme throughout the whole road trip. At one point, my sister noted in her journal that the food situation was making her unhappy as she was not eating well (and not from choice).
I make two suggestions here:
Eat up big in Bendigo or Ballarat because it’s the last decent meal you will have until after you leave the Silo Art Trail; and
Buy snacks in Bendigo or Ballarat before heading up the Silo Art Trail. If you find you haven’t bought enough or are sick of what you did buy, you can stock up at the supermarket in Warracknabeal. We made the mistake of eating lunch at the local Chinese restaurant in Warracknabeal because that was what we felt like. Big mistake! However, the chocolate biscuits I bought at the local supermarket were yum and eaten before my sister could blink. Did she want some?
We had a number of good meals in Bendigo. Our first breakfast was at The Boardwalk on Lake Weeroona (28 Nolan street). The service was faultless and the food here was so good we ate breakfast at The Boardwalk each morning of our stay in Bendigo. I couldn’t resist the Gourmet Fruit Loaf with Bacon.
Have lunch at The Rifle Bridge Hotel, 137 View Street, Bendigo. Talk about a yummy salad – Chicken and Macadamia Nut Salad with Beetroot, Pear and Figs.
For dinner, Masons of Bendigo, at 25 Queen Street, is a must. Plating is modern Australian, with all dishes (starters, mains and deserts) designed to be shared. We received excellent service from friendly, informative staff. Awarded “One Chef Hat” in Australia’s Good Food Guide in 2016 and 2017, reservations are essential.
On our first night in Ballarat, we ate at The Forge Pizzeria (14 Armstrong Street) as it was recommended in the Ballarat tourist information booklet. The restaurant was packed, which is always a good sign. My sister enjoyed her pizza, but it was a poor food choice for me as I am not all that keen on pizza.
The next day we had lunch at L’Espresso café (417 Sturt Street). A very popular café (people waiting to be seated) with efficient service and, we both commented, excellent food. That night, we ate at The Gallery Restaurant in the Craig’s Royal Hotel where we were staying (10 Lydiard Street). We had mixed feelings regarding our meals here. I thoroughly enjoyed my main course and desert. But my sister was not impressed with her meal.
In Rosebery, after viewing the silo art, we passed an old church 228 metres down the road with a sign out the front advertising scones and cream. This couldn’t be real! We were in the middle of nowhere! Turning around, we discovered the old church was now a café, Mallee Sunsets Gallery Café, and did indeed, have scones with jam and cream on its menu. This we couldn’t resist. Together with the best ice coffee I probably have ever had (I watched her put 6 scoops of ice cream in my ice coffee), I was in heaven.
The story of this once Presbyterian Church really brought home how much these small, remote farming communities are struggling. It stopped being a church in 1990 because there were only 5 people left in the congregation. The church’s closure divided the community as those 5 people then had to attend services in Warracknabeal or Hopetoun. Three went one way and two went the other.
Our final silo art on the Silo Art Trail was at Patchewollock. Looking to eat after viewing the mural of ‘Noodle”, we had two options: the café that only sold sausage rolls they could heat in a microwave or the Pub. We settle for toasted sandwiches at the “Patche Pub”.
From Patchewollock, we headed to Sea Lake for two nights. At the time, the only meals available for dinner were dispensed from a vending machine at the motel and were disgusting. There were two cafes open for breakfast but one closed at 5.30pm (too early for dinner) and the other advertised they close at 8.30pm. But not this night! They had two tourist coaches in town and had shut the café to all other people. At the time of our stay in Sea Lake, the hotel was being renovated and is now open for accommodation and meals. Bonus!
So, being very, very hungry by this stage in our travels, on our second day in Sea Lake, we drove 45 minutes to Spoons Riverside Café and Restaurant in Swan Hill for lunch. Spoons Riverside is in a beautiful location, overlooking the Murray River. I ate far too much, but the food was so yummy.
You would be forgiven for thinking that our focus was on food and not the massive artworks we had come to see. But when you experience such awful food and wonder where your next decent meal is going to come from, it’s hard to shift your focus. Having said that, I believe everyone should experience and contemplate the connectedness between people and landscape that the Silo Art Trail depicts. Just be prepared.
Where to stay
Being influenced by tourist information advising that Hopetoun is a great base for exploring the gigantic artworks that comprise the Silo Art Trail, we broke our journey for the night in Hopetoun. Both my sister and I strongly recommend you don’t do this. The only accommodation in town was very basic (that I can live with), but my room was filthy. On top of this, our food choices were extremely limited and tasteless.
The Quality Hotel Lakeside in Bendigo (our ‘home’ for 3 night), at 286 Napier Street, is located opposite Lake Weeroona and a stone’s throw from ‘The Boardwalk’ where we had breakfast each morning. A modern hotel, our balconied rooms were very large, with king-sized bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk and tea/coffee making facilities. The hotel also had a guest laundry.
In Ballarat, we stayed at Craig’s Royal Hotel – 10 Lydiard Street, South Ballarat. Located in the historical part of Ballarat across the road from Her Majesty Theatre, this luxury boutique hotel was comfort plus with an old-world charm. Craig’s Royal Hotel has been a Ballarat icon since 1853.
The drive from Ballarat to Sea Lake, at 405 kilometres, or from Bendigo to Sea Lake, at 357 kilometres, can be done in one day. This is not excessive and easily accomplished with plenty of time to view each of the silo artworks. Don’t make the mistake we made stopping for the night along the Silo Art Trail.
In Sea Lake we stayed at the Sea Lake Motel on the Calder Highway (93 Railway Avenue, Sea Lake). Our room (the only time we shared a room on this road trip) was small and basic, but clean. The now renovated Hotel (pub) on the main street in town may be a better accommodation option.
Patchewollock silo art of Nick Holland and car. The end of Victoria’s Silo Art Trail
What did surprise me was the lack of infrastructure to support tourism along the Silo Art Trail. I’m not referring to the roads. They were in good condition that my little car had no trouble traversing. If the Silo Art Trail has any hope of encouraging financial sustainability of the towns in questions through tourism and saving them from extinction, then appropriate places to eat and sleep are crucial. We would have seen a maximum of 3 other couples visiting these murals. I can understand that people are loathe to open cafes and accommodation when the tourists aren’t there to generate a viable business enterprise. It’s a bit like which comes first, the chicken or the egg. What are your thoughts on this?
I would like to leave you with a comment from my sister as she summed up her experience of the Silo Art Trail.
“At first I was not overwhelmed by the silo art. But on reflection, the use of these giant canvases to reflect community has been interesting and something to remember. Some of them, and their place in the landscape, have affected me. It would be good to go back and look at them quietly and reflect on the landscape.”
For my sister, the people in the murals were of the landscape. Her desire to return is based on a need to further examine the connection between landscape and the art themselves.
If you like this post, PIN it for keeps
PIN this post
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.
My sister and I have been on our road trip around Victoria for 11 days now – stopping over in Bendigo and Ballarat; travelling the silo art trail (not the…
My sister and I have been on our road trip around Victoria for 11 days now – stopping over in Bendigo and Ballarat; travelling the silo art trail (not the silo artworks in North East Victoria that I have previously written a post on); photographing our reflections on Lake Tyrrell; exploring the Lakes District around Kerang; and walking the Koondrook Barham Redgum Statue Walk.
Rochester was our last stop. We stayed just the one night as we were, by now, keen to get home. The next morning, we viewed Rochester’s silo artworks and took the river walk before heading for home early afternoon. These are two of the best things to see and do in Rochester. The third best thing to do in Rochester was eat – well worth mentioning given our food experience on this road trip.
Where is Rochester
Situated on the Campaspe River, Rochester, in Victoria (Australia), is 27 kilometres south of the Murray River Port of Echuca. The Murray River forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales, with the river actually situated in New South Wales.
Taking the fastest route, according to Google maps, Rochester is 187 kilometres north of Melbourne; 27 kilometres south of Echuca; and 240 kilometres south-west of Albury/Wodonga.
Silo artworks of Squirrel Glider and Azure Kingfisher at Rochester, Victoria.
Rochester’s Silo Art project was the initiative of Rochester Business Network, with support from local businesses and the community. The silos themselves were provided by GrainCorp as ‘creative’ canvases for artworks on a massive scale. To give you an idea of perspective, the concrete silo is 22 metres high (approximately 72 feet), while the height of the metal silo is 18 metres (approximately 59 feet).
Located in the heart of town, the silos feature paintings of the endangered Squirrel Glider on the concrete silo and the Azure Kingfisher on the metal silo. Both are native to Australia.
This open-air gallery, completed in 2018, never closes and is free to visit. It is street art at its best.
The artist who designed and painted these magnificent murals, Jimmy DVate, is the very same artist who painted the silos at Goorambat in North East Victoria.
Jimmy is a Melbourne based artist and graphic designer whose talent has been recognised national and internationally. He is passionate about conservation and is particularly keen to highlight the plight of endangered species. Painting threatened Australian native fauna is a ‘signature’ of Jimmy’s artwork.
Of all the silo artworks we had seen on this road trip around Victoria, which took in the Silo Art Trail, the Rochester silos were my sister’s favourite. They rate very highly on my list too. I think I must have an affinity with Jimmy DVate’s artworks as his paintings on the silos at Goorambat also rate at the top of my favourites list.
Walking from the painted silos, we made our way to Rochester’s Red Bridge; a railway bridge crossing the Campaspe River. Built in 1876, the Red Bridge was our starting point for the 3-kilometre signposted river walk through the urban bushland that makes up the Campaspe River Reserve at Rochester.
The Red Bridge features in the background on the silo artwork of the Kingfisher.
The river walk is indicated by the red dotted line on the map below; from the brochure, Experience Rochester, courtesy of Rochester’s Visitor Information Centre.
Map of Rochester, Victoria, showing the river walk route
The river walk meanders beside the Campaspe River through iconic Australian bush. For me, the Australian bush always gives me that sense of being home; no matter where in Australia I am experiencing it. And this walk did not disappoint. It was so peaceful. Just us two and birdsong.
This was an easy 3 kilometre walk along the riverbank. Being flat, it was not in the least bit challenging. Benches along the way provide a place to sit for a while and immerse yourself in the stillness and tranquillity.
The trees provide habitat for local wildlife. My sister enjoyed seeking and identifying the different species of native birds.
Rochester’s river walk through the Campaspe River Reserve is not just a bush walk but a history lesson along the way. Plaques dot the walk at specific points of local historical interest; providing insight into how the local Aboriginal people used the area. For example, pointing out ‘scarred’ trees caused when the bark was stripped by the Aboriginal people to make canoes, shields, containers and shelters. And the grooved rocks from grinding their axes.
The Campaspe River, a tributary of the Murray River (Australia’s principal river), is slow flowing along the walk through the Reserve – as is evidenced in the photos I took of the bush reflected in its waters.
When to go
We visited Rochester in the first week of May; towards the end of Australia’s autumn. The average daytime temperature for Rochester in May is 17 degrees Celsius; with an average of 5 rain days for the month. The temperature was just right for a bush walk along the river.
If you are looking at visiting Rochester at another time of year and wondering what the weather will be, you can find the information you need at, FarmOnline Weather.
Where to eat
On our 12-day road trip around Victoria, we struggled to find decent food. Food that gives you that feeling of satisfaction. Food that lets you know you have eaten well. We could count on one hand the number of good meals we had on this road trip. But Rochester scored 2 out of 2 – dinner at the Shamrock Hotel and breakfast at Kits Kafe.
Our decision to try the centrally located, historic Shamrock Hotel for dinner was good one. I had crumbed lamb chops on a bed of mashed potatoes, with seasonal steamed vegetables. My sister had the Thai Beef Stir Fry. We both agreed the food was excellent. These were some of the best pub meals we had ever eaten and were thoroughly enjoyed. Had we been staying another night, we would have gone back for seconds as there was much more on the menu we wanted to try.
Breakfast at Kits Kafe was a yummy affair. We both had the pancakes – mine with maple syrup and bacon and my sister’s with fruit cumquat and bacon. The service was excellent, the food delicious, and the coffee was worth going back for after our river walk.
We could see the silo artworks across the road from the Kits Kafe.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Rochester Motel, but there are other accommodation options available.
Our main reasons for stopping overnight at Rochester was to break the journey between Kerang and Albury, and to see the silo artworks, of which I had heard much about. The river walk was a very pleasant added bonus. As was our food experience. In all, we came away feeling very satisfied with our visit to Rochester.
If you like this post, PIN it for keeps
PIN this post
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless specifically stated, all photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.
Dear Meg, Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best. Pip had recently seen a feature story on…
Food is Free Laneway Ballarat
Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best.
Pip had recently seen a feature story on the ABC’s Gardening Australia about Ballarat’s Food is Free project. So, when arriving in Ballarat on our Victorian road trip, our mission was to find the laneway where Food is Free is happening.
It was not the best day for a walk as it was bitterly cold, with the wind-chill factor making it difficult to walk because we were freezing. But we persevered and eventually found the Food is Free Laneway.
From the Gardening Australia story, we already knew the Ballarat Food is Free Laneway was founded by Ballarat resident, Lou Ridsdale in October 2014 and that it is located in the laneway beside her home – at 305 Ripon Street South; near the corner of Ripon Street South and Warrior Place.
We also had foreknowledge about the purpose of the Food is Free Laneway; that it is, as the name implies, about sharing food for free. People drop off their excess produce which is then accessible to all at no cost (except perhaps a chat with a neighbour). This sharing has gone a long way to building community interconnections and engagement.
The Laneway is lined with boxes and tables of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs that are donated by the public for people to take as they want. There are also drawers of seeds, and excess pots and jars for the taking.
We didn’t meet Lou but chatted to the volunteer who was manning the laneway and keeping things in order. She told us that a team of volunteers help out at the site. This is important as people will want to drop off, for example eggs, but only fresh veggies, fruit and herbs can be accepted.
The Food is Free Laneway is a unique project for sustainably managing excess food, assisting those less advantaged, and building community through collaboration. It is a credit to Lou and the volunteers, who donate their time to this community initiative. It is also a credit to the Ballarat community who have embraced Food is Free.
As we were leaving, a lady arrived to drop off some vegetables. We were off to find hot soup.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain a copyright of Joanna Rath.
I love having high tea and have partaken of a few around the world. It always makes me feel spoilt and so special.
I love river cruises. Having been on 13 cruises, I am happy to admit I am addicted to river cruises.
Bring the two together and, for me, you have an experience made in heaven.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in Australia. What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to spend it with my daughter? Her choice of celebration showed just how well she knows me. My Mother’s Day treat was a high tea river cruise.
The high tea cruise on the Yarra River is operated by Magic Charters, Melbourne. The two-hour cruise sails from Victoria Harbour, Docklands to Williamstown, Hobson Bay (return) on Saturdays and Sundays from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
Boarding was done incredibly efficiently by the crew. At the gangway, we gave our name, were given a table number and off we went. Our table was upstairs and, while the boat holds up to 130 people, we were not crowded; with plenty of space between tables. I had held concerns that we might be required to share a table with strangers. I did not want to do this as I just wanted to spend the time exclusively with my daughter. But tables were set for two, three and four people; with larger groups also catered for.
The tables were set with white linen tablecloths and napkins, with china crockery and silver cutlery. A red rose was on each table. It all felt very posh and added to my feeling of being pampered.
Our high tea was a relaxed experience with efficient, friendly and attentive crew. We even had the option to help the Captain sail the boat – a spacious catamaran.
The serving of food was well-paced throughout the duration of the cruise. Magic Charters was not scrooge over the amount of food; and all that was provided was yum.
Once away from Docklands, I was surprised by the ugliness of the section of river the cruise took in. This is an industrial harbour with all that goes with that – oil tankers, container ships, cranes, and holding tanks. This is not a picturesque landscape and not what I expected. I hadn’t given it much thought, but I assumed there would be much green space. However, at one point, we did get a fabulous view of Melbourne’s skyline under a very moody sky.
Melbourne city skyline from the Yarra River under a moody sky
High tea menu
As soon as we were seated, we were offered sparkling white wine, which flowed throughout the cruise. Orange juice was an available alternative.
A tiered plate of hot and cold savouries was the first food to appear on our table; consisting of finger sandwiches, rolls, pies, tarts and arancini balls.
Our next tiered plate was filled with warm scones, jam and cream (plenty of cream) on the lower tier and various deserts on the top tier. Deserts included tubs of panna cotta with raspberry, macaroons, chocolate brownies and cupcakes.
According to Magic Charter’s website … “We can cater for some special dietary requirements such as vegan, gluten free, dairy free and some other. Please advise us about your special dietary requirements when you place your booking with us.”
A note on cost
The two-hour high tea cruise normally costs $118.00 per adult through Magic Charters. However, occurring one Sunday per month, Magic Charters sells their high tea cruise at the ‘special promotional price’ of $69.00 per adult, and can only be booked through their website. Vouchers can also be purchased through RedBalloon and Groupon at $79.00 per adult.
At $79.00 per adult, this high tea river cruise is value for money. If you have an afternoon free in Melbourne on a weekend, I highly recommend you add the high tea river cruise with Magic Charters to your itinerary.
Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are Meg Speak’s and remain the copyright of Speak Photography.