Silo Art …

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.

Of Beaufort and Bortle …

Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1875) a British Naval Commander, later Admiral, devised a scale by which to record wind strength. It was initially for use at sea based on observational characteristic. It ranged from 0 -Calm to 12-Hurricane and, for example at force 3-Gentle Breeze wave crests begin to break. It was adapted for use on land correlated with other observational criteria. I can remember some representative wind strengths from my scouting days :-

  • 3 Gentle Breeze – Girl Guide’s skirt begins to rustle.
  • 6 Strong Breeze – glimpse of under wear
  • 8 Gale – skirt over Girl Guide’s head
  • 10 Whole Gale – Girl Guide stripped naked
  • 12 Hurricane – retrieve Girl Guides from treetops later

In 2001 John E. Bortle came up with an observational scale to record light pollution in the night sky. Bortle 1 is a dark sky with no light pollution, Bortle 9 is an inner city sky where only the moon, planets and a few bright stars are visible. It is based on observations that anyone can make such as whether you can see M15, M4, M5, and M22 with the naked-eye which would be a Bortle 3 – Rural Sky. ( I personally have never seen these but I believe there may be an overpass just north of London where you can see all of them from one vantage point).

Most humans live in cities and unless you live in North Korea the nearest dark sky is quite a drive away. I live in a Bortle 2 area but being in other ways a typical human I hankered for something more. My trip to the desert was made while the moon was but a waning crescent in order to bask in the glow of a Bortle 1. And of course there was only a short break in the clouds on the first night.

The second night found me in the Little Desert contemplating Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) and looking for M22 where M stands for Messier

also known as NGC 6656, is an elliptical globular cluster of stars in the constellation Sagittarius, near the Galactic bulge region. It is one of the brightest globulars that is visible in the night sky. The brightest stars are 11th magnitude, with hundreds of stars bright enough to resolve with an 8″ telescope. M22 is located just south of the Ecliptic, and northwest of Lambda Sagittarii (Kaus Borealis), the northernmost star of the “Teapot” asterism (Wikipedia)

It may be in the photos. If you find it please let me know.



Everthing is Relative …

I’ve just spent a couple of days in Victoria’s deserts.  The Big Desert covers about 1500 square km so compared to the Sahara (9.2 million square km) it’s not all that big at all. But it is bigger than the Little Desert. Neither of our deserts are devoid of vegetation but they are sandy and rainfall is not overly generous. To their north is another similar area – the Sunset Country.

The dunefield that covers most of these three areas came from South Australia courtesy of the prevailing westerly wind during the ice ages. Conditions were much drier back then. Collectively the dunefield is known as the Lowan Sands. And even the Sahara can only boast about 138,00 square km of actual dunefield.

the Lowan Sands.

First stop was the south-east corner of the Big Desert along the Netting Fence and Chinaman Well tracks.

The area is rich in pioneer archeology. In 1885 the Netting Fence was constructed to keep the Dingo out of the  sheep and wheat growing areas to the south and to keep the rabbits from spreading further north. The grandfather of one of my favorite co-workers was a dogger back in the day. The fence helped to keep down recruitment of dogs from the desert replacing those shot on the agricultural land. It did little to slow the spread of the rabbit.

Bores and windmills provided water for the sheep and cattle that were herded through the desert. The remains can be found, mostly scattered across the ground but there is one in quite good condition along the Chinaman Well Track.

I also found three old ploughs, lying around like skeletons, with the vegetation growing up between their ribs.


Whether they represent failed attempts to cultivate the area or whether it was a handy spot for the locals to dump old ploughs I don’t know.

In any case the pioneers did it pretty tough out here, it’s a long walk to anywhere especially over soft sand.

I revisited the windmill at 2 am and was lucky enough to get a short break in the clouds.


Granite …

One way to be a better landscape photographer is to stand in front of a better landscape. Even greater improvement can be achieved by being there at the right time. I live in a relatively flat area, the Great Dividing Range can be seen from the front gate but it really is quite insignificant on the distant horizon.

A bit more than an hour’s drive away there are some more dramatic outcrops. One of my favourites is in Kooyoora State Park which I wrote about recently. I gave it another try the other evening …


Macro Madness …

Ballarat’s Begonia Festival is in full swing. I went along yesterday with my macro lens for the opportunity to photograph an enormous collection of virtually unblemished flowers.

Walking back to the car around Lake Wendouree a Black Swan presented itself for a photo. The only lens I had with me was the 100mm macro lens. You use what you’ve got so here is the first photo I’ve taken of a live free bird with a macro lens!

The Classics …

Let’s start early morning …

The Twelve Apostles

I didn’t even attempt a sunset – the crowd scared me off. Early morning is a better option. Not so many people are prepared to get up before dawn and some of those that do prefer the east facing lookout to watch the sun come up. I was happy with long exposure blue hour shots looking west.

Loch Ard Gorge is not so packed. There’s plenty of room and several lookouts so to some extent you can pick the spot that best utilises the sun’s position that day.

Loch Ard Gorge

Once the sun had gone I went to an east facing lookout for another image …

Loch Ard Gorge

The previous evening I was on the beach at Gibson Steps for sunset. I certainly wasn’t alone but the crowd was limited to those fit enough to climb back up the cliff!

Gibson Steps

Great Ocean Road west …

This February has been an extremely busy month. I really needed a couple of days to relax so it was off to the western end of the Great Ocean Road to take a few photos of the iconic scenery. I visited the eastern end back in January and blogged about it from January 20 and following days.

This time it was under canvas at Princetown a spot that looks like this during the day …

and like this (sometimes) at night …

It is very handy for getting to the Twelve Apostles and nearby attractions and I will share the photos …