Since 2016, the Victoria silo art trail has now expanded to include eleven regional townships. It stretches north from Goroke to Patchewollock as well as west from Nullawil to Kaniva. This was my second trip to the region and those large-scale murals did not fail to impress. Painted by renowned artists, grain silos have been transformed into a visual storytelling platform for each town.
Despite challenging weather conditions, contemporary street artist Sam Bates managed to paint the kelpie sheepdog and farmer. The farmer's classic check-patterned flannelette shirt takes pride of place together with his attentive brown-eyed working dog. Look closely and you'll notice the dog's registration tag which speaks to the name of the township. Derived from two Aboriginal words, Nullawil means a killing stick and galah.
If you're a South Australian, you might be thinking that the artist's name sounded familiar. And, yes, you'll be right. Sam had also painted the Wirrabara silos in the Southern Flinders Ranges.
The artwork on the Sea Lake silos depicts a young Indigenous girl swinging and looking over Lake Tyrrell. With Tyrrell meaning "space opening to the sky", it is believed that the Boorong People had much knowledge of astronomy. Today, this large salt lake provides visitors with a place to navigate the stars as well as photograph the magnificent colours of dusk and dawn.
Local couple Geoff and Merrilyn Horman has been skillfully portrayed by Melbourne-based artist Rone as wise and knowing farmers with extensive experience and continued connection to Lascelles. The ghostly transparent effect of the artwork is a signature of Rone's painting style.
After meeting local sheep and grain farmer Nick Hulland, Brisbane artist Fintan Magee was ready to transform the Patchewollock silos. Nick exemplified the hardworking spirit of the region despite its harshness and challenges. And, once again, the typical flannelette shirt can be seen here.
In contrast, Melbourne artist Kitt Bennett has taken a more modern approach to the job. The silo art at Albacutya is somewhat surreal, quirky and distorted from reality. Reflecting on fond memories of looking for yabbies as a youth, Kitt was inspired to create this bright and colourful rainbow-themed artwork about growing up in the country.
Don't make the same mistake as I did though in looking for these silos. They are not within Lake Albacutya Park, but, instead, located just ten kilometres north of Rainbow. And, by that, I mean the township of Rainbow. Perhaps renaming it "Albacutya/Rainbow" might ease some confusion for first-timers, if you ask my opinion.
Former lawyer and public servant Kaff-eine, now a renowned artist, has embodied the region's past, present and future in her artwork at Rosebery. The young female farmer wearing a work shirt, jeans and cowboy boots symbolises a strength that is still to come while the contemporary horseman portrays a common mutual trust between two dear friends.
As the first to be painted in Victoria, the Brim silos gained widespread attention and its success led to the establishment of this silo art trail. Guido van Helten's mural captures community strength and resilience through the expressions of four multi-generational farmers.
Again, the artist's name would sound familiar to South Australians. Guido painted the Coonalpyn silos about a year after and this also became the first artwork along the state's silo art trail.
The stories of Indigenous people are being told at Sheep Hills. Melbourne-based artist Adnate has cleverly depicted a male Wergaia Elder and female Wotjobaluk Elder alongside two young children. The night sky serves as a beautiful backdrop. Inspired by their rich culture, Adnate aims to signify the wisdom, knowledge and customs that are passed down from generation to generation.
Born in Nizhnevartovsk, Julia Volchkova moved to Saint Petersburg after studying classical painting. Frequent travels have brought her to different communities around the world where she uses art to deepen her cultural knowledge and understanding. At Rupanyup, she turned her attention to its rural youth culture. The youth loves their team sports and this community spirit was what she tried to capture. Local netballer Ebony Baker and footballer Jordan Weidemann, both dressed in sports attire, were chosen to be the faces of her mural.
As a tribute to the native birdlife in the region, Geoffrey Carran's artwork features a 10-metre high magpie and kookaburra as well as a rose-breasted galah. This comes as no surprise to me since the town had been aptly named Goroke, the local Aboriginal word for magpie.
Smaller than other falcons, the slender and long-winged Australian Hobby bird has left its mark on the Kaniva silos. Two valuable species of sun orchids have also made an appearance. Blooming three months in a year, the plains and salmon/pink sun orchids tend to only open their flowers on warm humid days.
The silo art can be viewed from Band Park Playground. However, if you'd like a closer look, head towards the black fence and go through the small pedestrian gate near the toilets. There isn't any signage, but, it so happened I saw two locals do just that. None of us tourists knew about this "secret passage" until then.