From Sea Lake we embarked on the Silo Trail. I’ve been on it before with my siblings and have written about that trip here. But Joe hadn’t seen it so a road trip was in order. Here’s the map.

We intended starting from Patchewollock ,which we hadn’t reached on my earlier trip, and then going down the trail. But before recording that, here are some photos of the newly painted Sea Lake silos that we’d checked out the night before.

This is painted by Drapl & The Zookeeper. The young girl, swinging from a Mallee Eucalypytus, looks over Lake Tyrell and reflects on her Indigenous heritage. According to the explanation of the web, The Boorong People were known to have more knowledge of astronomy than any other tribe. Which explains this painting on one of the side silos.

Drapl (Travis Vinson) and The Zookeeper (Joel Fergie) are street artists from Brisbane. They’ve also painted some murals around the township although we didn’t stop to look at those. Here is their depiction of Lake Tyrrell on another of the side silos.

Onto Patchewollock; a familiar place-name from my childhood. Watchupga used to compete against Patche in the school sports but I don’t recall ever going to the township. That’s because it’s not on any main route; away from the Sunraysia Highway that goes to Mildura and well away from the road to Swan Hill. So this was my first time there. Here’s the silo which depicts Nick, ‘Noodle’, Hulland. Its by another Brisbane artist, Fintan Magee.

Nearby were these enormous Malleefowl. True name Leipoa ocellata the sign tells us; also that they are a true marvel of the Austalian semi-arid landscapes.

Joe was quite taken with them! Living in the mallee for nearly twenty years I’ve never seen one in the wild.

Patche wasn’t on any of the main transport routes but I discovered on this trip that it used to have a rail link to Hopetoun – of all places. Here’s the railway siding.

There was this strange little race track nearby. We couldn’t work out what it could be used for. Too small for greyhounds one would think. Wouldn’t be rabbits. Who knows? I, remembering mallee boredom, imagine something awful.

Back to Lascelles. I love these delicate paintings of a farming couple, each on separate silos. I’m told that the locals found them a bit under-done compared to other more colourful painted silos. I like them both. Here’s the bloke, a local farmer called Geoff Horman.

And here is Geoff’s wife Merrilyn. Their family has lived and farmed in the area for four generations. The artist is the well known, at least in Melbourne where he is based, Rone and this is very typical of his work.

This face could be the face of any one of the women I have known in the mallee; open, gentle, wise.

We had a cup of tea at the pub after this and I could point out to Joe some Doran cousins in the football pictures on display. We were travelling on Melbourne Cup Day and the woman in the bar was having a bet on all of the races. Its sporting country is the mallee. Next stop Rosebery where the painting includes some animals – a horse and a sheep.

Tourists from the High Country were just leaving in their bus when we got there. I felt that there were more people doing the trail than my previous experience.

Another difference was the presence of very professionally produced billboards at each site providing information about the subjects and the artists. Here’s part of the one at Rosebery.

The artist, Kaff-eine has an interesting background – formerly a lawyer and public servant. Sounds like someone I know – but who doesn’t have an artistic bone in her body! This work was incomplete when we were here in October 2017. I liked the completed paintings very much. In her work shirt, jeans and turned-down cowboy boots, the strong young female sheep farmer symbolises the future.

While the man in his Akubra hat Bogs boots and oilskin vest is sharing a quiet moment with his horse; Both man and horse are relaxed and facing downward, indicating their mutual trust, love and genuine connection.

I liked the young woman a lot.

Going backwards down the trail I got a bit confused – nothing new given my complete absence of any sense of direction – and thought Brim came after Warracknabeal (which it does if you are travelling North)! But instead we went from Rosebery to Beulah where I insisted on a small excursion in search of the round building that was the hospital in years gone by where my brother spent some time with a broken leg (the same leg broken twice within the same year). We found it in its new incarnation as a business centre! With a medical centre next to it. Still a hexagonal building which enchanted us as children. Then Brim which is where the first painted silo stands tall; still one of the best.

It was only completed in 2016; seems longer. And look what it started! Guido van Helton’s figures are very emotive; according to the poster the work expresses shifting notions of community identity at a time when rural populations face both immense economic pressure and the tangible consequences of climate change.

There has been one change since I was last here. The owner of this wheat crop has put a large Keep Out sign on his gate. Specifically, don’t enter this paddock to take photographs! I didn’t.

On to Warracknabeal where we had lunch at the Creekside Hotel which lived up to its high ratings on the web. Great location on the Yarriambiack Creek. Here’s looking upstream.

And looking downstream – or vice versa given I have no sense of direction. There are two marked walks along the creek for those interested – one of 6-8 kilometres (2 hours 10 minutes) and one of 4 kilometres (1 hour 10 minutes). A pity we didn’t have time.

The food at the pub was great as well. Especially good was the passionfruit sponge that came with my coffee – cooked by one of the waitstaff I was told. It being Cup Day the locals were celebrating as they are wont to do in the country. A loud party in the outside area included very rotund middle-aged men dressed up as jockeys and women wearing fascinators. Inside it appeared a group from a retirement home were out for lunch in their glad rags. A very old lady looked spectacular in a yellow hat and matching ensemble. I liked watching the races, but alas, we had to hit the road!

Sheep Hill came next. This remains one of the most dramatic paintings on the Trail. Beautiful colours.

Dramatic scale. Here’s Joe standing in front of it. The figure on the left reminds me of Laurie Carmichael.

The dripping paint adds to the drama of the whole picture.

Here is the part of the poster telling visitors about the work which is by the artist Adnate, who has recently completed a work on the public housing estate in Wellington Street Collingwood to much acclaim. This tells us the name of the people on the silo – Wergala Elder, Uncle Ron Marks and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood and Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald. The night sky represents elements of local dreaming and the overall image signifies hte important exchange of wisdom, knowledge and customs from Elders to the next generation.

And here is the second half of that poster which provides pictures of the artist undertaking the work. Its easy to forget how difficult a job it must be to paint these massive, round buildings.

A final picture from Sheep Hills showing the number of visitors. As Joe said, we saw neither sheep nor hills!

On to Rupanyup; another town I seem to have heard about a lot but until I went on the Silo Trail had never been to. Murtoa which is nearby is more familiar as I used to catch a train to there from Ballarat and then get the little motor from Murtoa to Hopetoun – a very round about way home. Anyway, here’s our last silo. Such fresh-faced youngsters. It was unveiled in 2017 – I wonder what Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann think about it now. The artist, Russian Julia Volchkova thinks they embody a youthful spirit of strength, hope and camaraderie. As the poster says; the mural quietly honours the integral role that sport and community play in rural Australian populations. Not much else to do; I think darkly.

 

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