The painting of murals on the many stark looking grain silos that dot Australia’s rural landscape has been a relatively new and welcome trend.
They have given a much-needed economic boost to many country towns as tourists’ criss-cross the roads often less travelled in search of this art form…
And it is not hard to be impressed by these murals, some that pay homage to an individual, others a town or region, and in some cases, the fabric of our nation.
In the Central West township of Dunedoo, artist Peter Mortimore was well advanced in painting a tribute on the town’s silo to Winks, Australia’s much loved super-racehorse, when we passed through recently.
Hugh Bowman, Wink’s regular jockey, was born in Dunedoo and provides the connection for the mural, one that he features in.
Silo Art is limited only by imagination and it is hard not too marvel at the precision and perspective that many of the murals provide, especially given the size of the ‘canvas’ that the artists’ are working with.
In a park next to the rail-siding in the small Victorian town of Goorambat we sat in the shadow of the silos proudly displaying beautiful artwork. And truly, these are masterpieces of the highest order.
Whilst we photographed the murals from every possible angle, ensuring that we didn’t miss a perspective, Keith, a long-term resident sat quietly with an array of tea-towels and postcards for sale showcasing this beautiful art work. The proceeds from these sales go towards the upgrade of visitor facilities in this small town.
We clicked away before taking a walk up the main street, towards the pub and past the town’s community hall where we made what we thought was an amazing discovery, well for us at least.
Set in stone at the front of the hall was a plaque commemorating the Royal visit of Queen Elizabeth to Goorambat in 1954.
Now there is no reason why the Queen shouldn’t choose to visit Goorambat, but we were intrigued to learn more about the visit.
We were hopeful Keith would still be at the park and that he would be able to share some knowledge of the Queen’s visit.
Keith’s story and personal account of that day evolved like a good novel by the fire on a cold night.
And not only about the Queen’s visit all those years ago, but also of his family, its connection to the town and region, of how his grandfather built the home he and his wife of over sixty-years live in today.
Keith spoke about the good times and the bad times, a familiar feast and famine story of our harsh land, and how Goorambat’s fortunes were affected by ‘progress’ over the years.
“What about the Royal visit?” we asked…
Keith paused, as though surveying a time long past in his mind.
Clearly, his memory of the event was as fresh as the day the Royal train pulled into the siding.
“The lead-up to the visit was a hive of activity,” he recounted.
“We were newly married and in our early twenties”, Keith recalled. “There was a bustle like never seen before as the women baked and the men cleaned and painted every surface that could be found, and then more”.
After all, this would be the Queen’s first and last visit to Goorambat, of that he was certain, so everything had to be perfect…
“Simply perfect”, he said.
Seemingly, it was deemed that noise from passing trains along the main train line between Sydney and Melbourne would disturb Her Majesty’s sleep and that a siding off the main route would be selected for her overnight stay in country Victoria.
Keith surmised the bidding must have been intense for the right to host the Royal visit and with much pride and a wink, he said Goorambat was chosen and the rest is history.
That night, as the embers glowed in the campfire, we reflected on the possibility that Silo Art was to a town like colour is to a flower. Its artistic beauty drawing you towards something special, a story to be told and recounted, to be pollinated so it lives on…
Photos: Janet & Baz
We love the colours of the Australian Outback, the ochre red earth touching a deep blue sky on a faraway horizon; and the fabulous coastline of our sunburnt country, where a golden sandy beach is washed over by a turquoise blue sea; and the characters you meet in a quiet country pub, where it is nothing flash, but you are enriched by the encounter…
A few years ago we decided it was time to graduate from work and re-enter the classroom of life where an education is guaranteed and all that is needed is an open mind.
Thanks for joining us in the adventure…!
Cheers, Baz & Janet