If you’ve read some of our other posts, you’ll know that we like a bit of art. We’ve visited galleries in towns and cities including; Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Canberra and Melbourne. Street art has also impressed us in cities like Melbourne and Townsville. However, we found out that the capital wasn’t the only place to find art on the street in Victoria. Apparently, there were also some pretty impressive murals on the sides of wheat silos in the west of the state, so we had to go have a look.
On the way, we stopped at the wine region of Rutherglen which we’ve written about in ‘Swallow Don’t Spit Chapter 3‘. However, whilst there we got chatting to Jenny who was hosting a wine tasting for us at Stanton and Killeen winery. It turns out she came from Benalla, less than 100 km away and she told us that there was an impressive collection of street art there. We decided to make a diversion to check out Benalla on the way to the wheat belt.
Wall to Wall
At Benalla’s Visitor Information Centre we learnt about the Wall to Wall Street Art Festival which began in 2015. Street artist, Shaun Hossack was born in Benalla but now lives in Melbourne. Shaun wanted his home town to become the street art centre of Australia, and it looks like he’s managed it. The festival has gone from strength to strength. In 2018, 21 artists painted murals on the streets of Benalla. Half were women artists, 5 were local and many, including street art superstars; Adnate and Dvate, are internationally famous. We picked up the self guide trail from the Centre, and the art we found on every street corner amazed us.
Sophia of Goorambat
Just up the road from Benalla is the small community of Goorambat. We were expecting to need to travel further west to find art on wheat silos. However, we found out that Dvate had painted a huge barking owl on a silo at Goorambat as part of the 2018 festival. We discovered another wheat silo mural a bit further on, in the township of Devenish. This Silo, unveiled on the eve of Anzac Day, highlights the role of female medics in conflict.
The art that really blew us away, however, was in the tiny Uniting Church. As part of the 2017 festival, Matt Adnate had painted an outstanding mural of Sophia, the female aspect of the Holy Spirit. Benalla and Goorambat are only 200km north of Melbourne. If you visit Victoria it should be high on your list of places to visit.
A (not very) Pink Lake and an Early Shower
The wheat silo trail we were heading towards starts in Patchewollock in north western Victoria. Just beyond was the Murray Sunset National Park which contained some intriguingly named Pink Lakes. We thought we better have a look as we were in the neighbourhood. Having found a free camp in Underbool, just south of the lakes, we set off to have a look just before sunset.
The lakes beds are made of solid salt which used to be mined. The pink colour comes from a combination of the white salt and a red algae which populates the water. Unfortunately, we were visiting during a very dry period so the lakes had no water in them. We therefore got to see some whitish salt beds rather than the pink lakes. Nonetheless, it was a pretty spectacular environment, almost lunar.
We returned to our camp which was more of a truck stop by the side of the road. It did, however, have toilets and a shower for a $5 donation and a free electric barbeque and picnic area. Handily for us, there was also a patch of grass next to the picnic area. Given the dry conditions, it was surprisingly green.
After a barbecue tea we turned in for the night, only to be woken up an hour or so later. A truck pulled up and the driver got out to use the shower facilities. This happened a couple more times before once again we drifted off. We were woken with a start at 4 a.m. to what sounded like someone spraying a hose on our tent. Had a truck driver decided we shouldn’t be in his overnight stop? It seemed to stop then immediately started again from another direction, then another direction again. We eventually worked out we were in the middle of automatic irrigation jets, no wonder the grass was so green.
Trapped inside our tent we waited in vain for the water to stop. By 6.30 we’d given up trying to get back to sleep so timed our exit to dash out of the tent in between drenchings. Dodging the sprays, we pulled the pegs out and dragged the tent beyond the reach of the jets so it could dry out. Just as we’d finished, on the dot of 7 a.m. the jets disappeared back into the turf, obviously on a 3 hour cycle. Bleary eyed, we packed up the tent and drove off towards the silo art trail, desperately hoping to find some coffee on the way.
Brim Full of Art
The Silo Art trail is a 200 km drive from Patchewollock to Rupanyup taking in; Sheep Hills, Rosebury, Lascelles and the where it all began, in Brim. The trail was conceived in 2016, and features art created by internationally famous artists, that represents the community it is located in. The pictures below really don’t do it justice. When you’re up close the scale of the art is immense and so impressive. We’re really pleased we heard about the trail and paid a visit. If you come to Victoria you should too as we’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else. It also gives you the opportunity to spend a few dollars in regional towns that are doing it tough but are obviously trying hard to maintain their communities.