Monday 24 May 2021: Rankin Springs to Hay 220km
Griffith is a major regional city in the Riverina region of New South Wales, known as the food bowl of Australia. 60% of the population of Griffith are of Italian descent, a good place for gelato. We also picked up handmade pasta, gnocchi, ravioli and pasta sauce plus a couple of bottles of local wine to go along.
The town of Hay grew up around what was an important crossing on the Murrumbidgee River. It was a major ford for droving cattle from Queensland across the river to the developing Victoria goldfields.
Tuesday 25 May 2021: Hay to Swan Hill 190km
Moulamein, the oldest town in the Riverina, prospered as an inland port when the River system was the most effective means of transport until the coming of the railway in 1926.
We crossed the Murray River and entered Victoria at Swan Hill on the same day 9 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Melbourne. Thankfully there are no border restrictions so far.
Wednesday 26 May 2021: Swan Hill to Hopetoun 310km
“The artwork depicts a young girl swinging from a mallee eucalyptus tree gazing out over the endless vista that is Lake Tyrrell. A powerful Wedge Tail Eagle saws above the girl and emus run off into the night. For millennia this lake has existed, unchanged and untouched. It is a place of wonder and story. In this ever increasing busy day and age, people universally long for space and solitude.”
Brisbane artist Fintan Magee painted Nick “Noodle” Hulland who exemplified the no-nonsense, hardworking spirit of the region on the Patchewollock Silos. For inspiration for his silo mural and to get to the know the people of the area, Fintan booked a room at the local pub so he could mix among the local community. The twin silos were built in 1939 and was transformed in late 2016.
Two big Mallee Fowls, constructed from corrugated iron and painted to give the impression of feathers, around a large mound nest. The sculptures were installed by artist Phil Rigg in 2013 at the disused Patchewollock Railway Station.
Melbourne Street Artist “Rone” painted the images of a local couple Geoff and Merrilyn Horman on the silos at Lascelles. “They are a humble couple, who are both wise and knowing and who have nurtured the town with their vast farming experience and longstanding connection to the area.” Their families have lived in the area for four generations.
We’d heard rumours of a silo being painted at Albacutya, a remorse location 10km north of Rainbow. Hoping to catch the artist in action we headed out there but he had already finished. There is nothing at Albacutya other than the silos and two sheds in the dull brown countryside so the brightly painted silos appear totally out of place which is what the artist intended.
Melbourne artist Kitt Bennett: “I have fond memories of exploring the bush and looking for yabbies under rocks in creeks with my parents. I wanted to keep the artwork somewhat surreal and distorted from reality. Much like the nature of stories from the past. They often become exaggerated”
Thursday 27 May 2021: Hopetoun to Barham 340km
We woke to the news that Victoria would be going into a 7 day lockdown from midnight so we set out for the NSW border but still managed to get in the 5 painted silos we wanted to see.
Before commencing her artwork on the Rosebery silo, Melbourne based artist Kaff-eine, spent time travelling around the neighbouring communities to identify the elements that she felt truly represented the spirit and tenacity of the Mallee. On one silo she captures the image of a young female farmer, a strong woman who is used to the hardships of the land. On the other silo is a man sharing a tender moment with a very close friend.
In January 2016, Brim in the Wimmera-Mallee region of Victoria was painted by Brisbane artist Guido Van Helten. The faces on the mural are anonymous, but they are said to portray a multi-generational quartet of farmers both male and female who show the strength and resilience that is required to be a country Victorian farmer.
Warracknabeal is an interesting old town in the Wimmera-Mallee region of Victoria. We stopped only for supplies on our way north to the NSW border.
We’d seen photos of these silos and thought the colours had surely been manipulated but no, they really are this bright. Melbourne based artist, Adnate’s mural is of a Wergaia Elder Uncle Ron Marks, along with a Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood. They both stand beside two young children, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald.
Rupanyup’s silo art is the work of Russian mural artist Julia Volchkova, who turned her attention to the town’s youth and great love of team sport. The featured faces are those of Rupanyup residents and local sporting team members, Ebony Baker and Jordon Weidemann who embody a youthful spirit of strength, hope and camaraderie. The delicately nuanced monochromatic work is typical of Volchkova’s realist portraiture style.
Prominently featured on this silo is Jimmy the kelpie dog as he sits with a close companion; could it be his owner Darren? As a ‘nod’ to the history of Nullawil the registration disc worn by Jimmy has a ‘galah’ and ‘stick’ engraved on it. The name of the town is derived from two Aboriginal words, ‘Nulla’ which means killing stick, and “Wil’ derived from the term “willock’ meaning Galah.
We went to Victoria for the Silo Art Trail and we saw the 9 painted silos in the Wimmera-Mallee region. Further travel in Victoria was cut short by the 7 day lockdown introduced by the Victorian Government in response to a COVID-19 outbreak and we were glad to cross back into NSW without any problems.