The Silo Art Trail …

Happy New Year everyone, may it be a good one.

In January last year I stumbled on the recently painted silo in Brim, a small town in north-western Victoria. I wrote about it in a post entitled A Tale of Two Cities.

It proved a remarkable success and a major disruption to traffic for a while. By June it had spawned the idea of an art trail to attract tourists to a part of the state that is in need of a little love.

Poor old Patchewollock with its boarded up general store was the next town to receive an artistic baptism …

Patchewollock

… by October Fintan Magee was hard at work painting a portrait of local man Nick Hulland.

PatcheSilo

If you’re tempted to take up silo painting have a look at Fintan in action in a series of slides from the Wimmera Mail-Times.

Sheep Hills doesn’t have a boarded up general store or even a working store but it does have a silo which is now beautifully painted by Melbourne street artist Adnate. The portraits are of local indigenous people.

Sheep Hills Silo

And here’s the original at Brim …

Brim Silo

Still my favorite.

There are some great photos of the silos at Leanne Cole’s Site.

Three more silos are on the drawing board at Rupanyup  (starting in March), Lascelles and Rosebery.

The proper pronunciation of Rupanyup is not obvious. Start with the last syllable, forget the u and say Yip. Now for the middle syllable, forget the a and say pun. Put those together Punyip with the emphasis on the pun. Precede that with the Re from republic and you will be able to ask directions to … Re-punyip. It’s about 300km from Melbourne. No good asking directions until you get closer.

Victoria

Victoria

Silo TrailSheep Hills is a little off the main road.

The only large(ish) town on the route is Warracknabeal. There is a road house on the highway, shops and accommodation can be found in town.

PS …

An ironic post script …

There I was trapped in Birdsville, less than a month later and 2000 km away here  I am trapped in Victoria.

I live on the banks of an inoffensive little creek, I woke up this morning to find it lapping at my back door. I have the choice of a ford and two bridges if I want to go anywhere. The ford would be certain death, the photo of the nearer bridge doesn’t tell the story all that well – you can’t see the bridge! Here’s the other bridge …

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The floorboards are still dry, there’s food in the pantry and beer in the fridge. I’m better off than many another …

Good Morning Melbourne …

The Photographer’s Ephemeris revealed that a spot on the Yarra River near the Westgate Bridge would give me a great view of the sun coming up over good old Melbourne Town and this time, the ephemeris had much better control over the weather. Just before sunrise …

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The glow intensified and I was rewarded for my efforts by this …

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A short walk gives a better view of the docks …

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and if you look very carefully you can see a number of hot air balloons (and you can always get a better view by clicking on the photos, the back arrow on your browser returns you to this page), I wasn’t the only one saying good morning Melbourne. I retraced my steps and caught them as they crossed the city skyline …

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What an adventure they were embarked on …

Nine passengers have jumped from a hot air balloon hovering over Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay onto a police boat below following fears the balloon, which was low on fuel, would ditch into the water.

While the drama unfolded over the bay, a second hot air balloon crashed into a suburban street in nearby Aspendale Gardens.

No one was hurt from either balloon. The one over the bay was sufficiently buoyant, once the passengers had jumped off, to fly on and land ashore.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris …

I’m in the big smoke for a few days. The weather was fairly wild the other day so I headed to Frankston to see what the waves were doing.

They were trying to knock down the pier …

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No one was game enough to fish off the end.

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The bridge over Kananook Creek is something of a local landmark …

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Which brings me finally to the point. The Photographer’s Ephemeris will show you where the sun and moon will rise and set as well as where they will be any time in between and as it happened that very day the sun would set right under the bridge …

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The pin marks the spot where the camera was situated for the photo above it. The orange line shows the direction of the sun at sunset which would be at 1714. That, I thought, would convert an ordinary photo into something more interesting.

I was on the spot at 1714. It was pouring with rain, the sun wasn’t even represented by a glow through the cloud.

Back down to earth …

Sunny Victoria, Australia.

Quite a change from Hokkaido but home in time to head to Terrick Terrick National Park to lend a helping hand in some fauna monitoring.

The Terricks are in the northwest of Victoria, 225 km from Melbourne, 60 km north of Bendigo. Some granite outcrops had got in the way of agricultural development so some forest had survived. This was the core of a state park and it preserves some very nice, revegetating Calitris woodland. North of that there is some marginal grazing country that had been lightly stocked and never cropped. It is the principle refuge of Victoria’s remaining Plains Wanderers, cute little birds whose closest relatives are the seed snipes of South America. Some of this country has been added to the park with a view to managing it for the benefit of our cute but endangered little birds. And somewhere along the journey the enlarged park became a National Park.

The management plan for the grassland seemed an excellent one, I am sure the Plains Wanderers would have been thrilled with it. Sadly Parks Victoria have done a woeful job of sticking to it. Still, the Wanderers are hanging on, just.

Finding them is a night-time task. They are not nocturnal but their eyes show up well in a spotlight and they tend to run rather than fly, they can be caught with a hand net, banded and released. Volunteering has its rewards …

Plains Wanderer

Plains Wanderer

And on a warm night the grassland can turn up other delights …

Fat tailed Dunnart

Fat tailed Dunnart

Eastern Scaly foot

Eastern Scaly foot

And whilst some are a handful of cute don’t try it with this one, it might result in being very unwell …

Curl Snake

Curl Snake

and most people would prefer not to handle this one either …

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but they are cute in their own way, the little blue dots are the eye reflections of some of its babies that are riding on its back.

Rain …

It has been a dry old time in Victoria’s Goldfields. The wettest day last year was on January 18th when we were deluged with 49mm (2 inches). We had had 21mm nine days earlier. Since then it seemed to have forgotten how to rain. My neighbours are hand feeding sheep and, unless they have a good bore, are carting water every day to keep their stock alive. It’s hard work at the hottest time of the year. Australia is, and always has been, a tough place when el Niño comes to visit.

Bare paddock

But there are wetter parts. The hills east of Melbourne are clothed in tall forest and in the gullies there are pockets of  genuine rainforest. Some cooler weather was forecast so what better time to visit. A few showers? Well, that would reduce the risk of bush fire. Fifty millimetres, could be uncomfortable in the tent.

I arrived in Australia in August many Augusts ago. I bought a sporty Mazda car with a rotary engine and I was keen to try it out. The ski season was in full swing, snow in Australia, not what I was expecting, must take a look. I took a long spin up the highway to just beyond Mansfield where the snow capped summit of Mount Buller could be seen. Wow. Where to now? I might add at this point, that in England, I had never had the opportunity to drive on a gravel road.

I consulted my brand new map of Victoria and found a road down the east side of Lake Eildon, through Jamieson, the A1 Mine Settlement, Woods Point and on to Marysville. From there it’s a shortish trip to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. More interesting to make it a round trip, I thought, and set off.

The bitumen ran out. It was raining. It was getting late in the afternoon. It can’t be all that far, I thought.

Soon it was dark, the wind was howling, the rain was lashing down. I was traveling very slowly on a loose stony road that divided its time between climbing and descending steep hills and sharing  the valley bottom with a rapidly swelling river. The car was second hand, I hadn’t even checked whether I had a jack or a spare tyre. My way forward might be blocked by a fallen tree or the river in flood. So might my way back if I turned around. My heart was in my mouth. Jamieson to Marysville is 136 km (85 miles). Along the way a Wombat the size of a sheep wandered out into the road and stood looking at me. It could have been asking itself, “What the hell is he doing here?” Which is exactly what I was asking myself.

So there I was, a few days ago, camped at Woods Point, next to the Goulburn River, in the pouring rain. On the way there I had stopped to photograph the Noojee Trestle Bridge. A number of these fine old rail bridges survive, I find them very interesting …

Noojee Trestle

You can see that the area is much lusher than my neck of the woods, there’s even grass.

And tall trees …

Woods Point

it has crossed my mind that given my girth, if I was a tree I would be about a hundred metres tall.

Meanwhile, outside my tent, a very damp Flame Robin was playing in the puddles.

Wet Flame Robin

The next morning there was nothing more than light showers. A short walk turned up some wreckage …

Old truck cabin

for a moment I thought it was my Mazda.

I added 20 more bird species to my year list, enjoyed recounting my first trip down this road and enjoyed the ride in my FJ Cruiser, too easy.

When I got home there was a very welcome 21mm in the rain gauge. May have to service the mower soon.