Central Goldfields, Victoria to Wakerie, South Australia – 615km.
A long day to get a good step over the familiar. Travelling north west through the sheep-wheat-painted silo country of Victoria, pausing at Patchewollock to admire the art work and allow Fifi McGee to stretch her legs.
Next step the border, quarantine and new time zone. The quarantine station was unmanned which made for a speedy transition.
Onto Waikerie and the newly minted silo art, a double sided affair …
Three silos together make for a wavy canvas that is hard for the artist to get a great result from.
The campsite we chose is at Holder Bend on the banks of the mighty Murray. Quite picturesque but very close to the Sturt Highway. The dawn chorus was a competition between a Darter and a choir of Mac trucks.
Recent months have seen some activity on the silo art front in the north-east of Victoria. Good things have been happening on the city walls of Benalla as part of the Wall to Wall Arts Festival. Read all about it <HERE>. Benalla is 212 km from Melbourne on the Hume Highway, the main road to Sydney.
Heading north from Benalla there are four painted silos well worth a look in the little towns of Goorambat, Devenish, St James and Tungamah.
I wrote about the Goorambat silo back in October 2018. Since then another painting has been added on the back of the silo. It’s by Dvate and it’s a ripper.
Clydesdale Horses ploughed the fields before the tractor put them out of business. The local farmer Stan Todd may well have been the last to make the switch first using a tractor for the harvest of 1964.
The models for this artwork are from left to right, Lavereen Clement (gelding aged 17 years), Coolibah Ridge Samuel (gelding, 4 years) and Lavereen Banjo (stallion, 19 years) from a photo taken at the 100 year celebration of the Clydesdale in Australia. It’s hard to find a tractor that is anywhere near as attractive.
Next stop on the way north is Devenish. The mural of the WW1 Nurse and modern day medic was unveiled last year to mark the centenary of the end of The Great War. Since then the painting of the Light Horseman has been added and it got its grand unveiling the other day complete with fanfare and dress ups. The Devenish pub was packed. Silo art is very good for beer sales.
St James is next. Like Devenish the pub is right opposite the silos and was doing a roaring trade. It’s for sale so if you want a good pub here it is.
The silos here were built in 1943 and wheat was first delivered in sacks on horse drawn carts. One of the locals was George Coles later Sir George, the founder of the Coles Supermarket chain. The art work by Timothy Bowtell brings that bit of history to life.
Finally Tungamah for Brolgas and a Kookaburra. The layout here is not at all friendly to the terrestrial photographer.
Here it’s the Police Station not the pub opposite the silos so don’t over-indulge at the previous stops.
The Silo Art Trail in western Victoria has grown a bit since I last drove it.
At Lascelles Rone has painted local farming couple Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, part of a family that has lived and farmed in the area for four generations. They occupy one silo each facing in opposite directions. Maybe they’re not talking to each other …
It has an unwanted effect for the photographer. When Geoff is nicely lit Merrilyn is contra jour.
I’ll have to go back on an overcast day. Although the sky that day was being generous in other ways …
We left Weethalle bright and early with Collarenebri our destination. The road less travelled would take us through Tottenham the geographic centre of the state. Yes, you could balance NSW on a pin placed beneath a point just 33km north-west of town.
We didn’t make the 33km detour to that particular landmark because we got a flat not far from Tullibigeal. It took a little while to change the wheel and more time was wasted in Condobolin trying to get the tyre repaired, a wasted effort.
So onward ever onward. The countryside was very dry but the sky overhead black with cloud. A lot of the paddocks had been prepared for sewing and then left waiting for a rain that hadn’t come. Livestock were in good condition. Farmers out here know that there will be a drought in every decade and have already made the decision to destock or hand feed. It’s tough but so are they.
The native wildlife is not being hand fed. Kangaroos are attracted to the green pick along the roadsides where the camber delivers just a bit more water to the vegetation. Whilst they’re not dying of starvation a lot have fallen victim to the passing traffic.
At Warren we ran into the rain. The heavens opened.
At Coonamble we chanced upon this …
a water tower rather than a silo which a bit of research reveals was painted by John Murray of Lightening Ridge and Sooty Walsh a local aboriginal artist.