Silo art has really taken off in Australia. The original Silo Art Trail in Victoria is now one of the most popular road trips in the state. Read on to find out more about this trail, and the vibrant murals breathing life back into tiny regional towns.
While Melbourne is well-known for its street art, many people don’t realise there is equally great art to be found in regional Victoria.
The Silo Art Trail in particular is extraordinary and well worth checking out on any visit to the state.
They’re a melding of history and art, devised to bring tourism to small, regional towns in the area.
And they’ve done just that – international acclaim has brought thousands of travellers flocking to this region of the state, spreading the tourist dollar where it’s most needed.
You can now find these painted silos in several states across Australia – Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales have all jumped on board.
THE ORIGINAL SILO ART TRAIL OF VICTORIA
Like Australia’s ‘Big Thing’ statues, these painted silos can brighten up any road trip.
They provide sights to see along the way, as well as a cause to stop in small country towns that you may otherwise miss.
While the online images of the silos are impressive in themselves, they are something that are worth experiencing in the flesh. Like most art, of course!
This guide covers the original silo art trail in the state’s north-west, located in Wimmera Mallee.
There’s now also a second silo trail in Victoria’s north-east.
HISTORY OF THE ORIGINAL SILO ART TRAIL
There are hundreds of silos littered across regional Australia, some which were built in the 1930s.
Originally used to store grain, abandoned train lines and changes in agricultural practices have forced some to close.
The question then arises – what can then be done with these structures?
Some have been sold to private companies for storage. Others have been turned into telecommunication towers, providing mobile phone reception.
In what may be the most genius idea yet, the town of Mirrool in southern inland NSW has held an annual event since 1992, where there is a competition to boot a footy over the local silo.
Whoever kicks the highest, wins!
And of course, they’ve become blank canvas for artists all over the world to paint large-scale works on their surface.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The silo art trail started in the small town of Brim, in Victoria’s north-west.
GrainCorp, who owns most of the silos in Australia, agreed to allow Brisbane artist Guido van Helten to paint a mural on the 30 metre high decommissioned silos in Brim.
The idea was originally intended to be a small community project, dreamt up by Brim Active Community Group, street art agency Juddy Roller and van Helten.
The mural, depicting four locals (three men and a woman) of unknown identities, were an instant sensation.
While the paintings are impressive and van Helten is beyond talented, it is the melding of everything – the space, the canvas, the backdrop and the sheer size of the artwork that makes them what they are.
As a consequence, in 2016, it was agreed that more silos would be donated by GrainCorp and the trail was born.
THE SILO ART TRAIL TODAY
There are now eleven scattered across the Wimmera-Mallee region, in the towns of Patchewollock, Lascelles, Rosebery, Sheep Hills, Rupanyup, Nullawil, Sea Lake, Goroke, Kaniva and Albacutya.
There’s also a silo in nearby St Arnaud, which for some reason isn’t officially part of the trail, but can still be seen as part of this road trip.
However, the silos aren’t a mere hop, skip and a jump from Melbourne.
They’re spaced hours apart and the northernmost painted silo in Patchewollock is about a five hour drive from the city.
The trail being as large as it is now, there’s no way you could see them all in a day trip. However, it does make for an excellent weekend getaway from Melbourne – or a long weekend, if you can wangle it.
Luckily, there’s plenty else to see in this underrated part of Victoria.
HOW LONG IS THE SILO ART TRAIL?
Originally 200 kilometres, the trail just keeps growing!
If you want to do the trail justice, consider dedicating three or four days to the trip. Stay in the small towns and spread your tourist dollars where they’re most needed.
When I originally saw the silos, I did it over two days, leaving Melbourne at 10am on a Monday and getting back in around 430pm on a Tuesday.
This was when there were only six on the original trail.
It was a very leisurely journey. With two of us driving, we were able to stop whenever we wished, to grab a pie on the road or have a quick poke through any country town that looked interesting.
SILO ART TRAIL IN VICTORIA: MAP
Consult this map in plotting out your journey along the trail:
WHERE DOES THE SILO ART TRAIL START?
Well, it depends where you’re heading from.
The Victorian Silo Art can be started from Melbourne, Horsham, Ballarat or Bendigo. If you’re heading there from any of these places, it’s best to start with the silo in Rupanyup.
Alternatively, you can approach the trail from Mildura, starting in Patchewollock and working your way down to Rupanyup.
If you’re coming over the border from South Australia, you’ll hit either Kaniva or Goroke first.
Here are all the silos on the trail, if you were to navigate along the trail from Melbourne.
RUPANYUP SILO ART
Artist: Julia Volchkova
Rupanyup’s mural is painted by Russian artist Julia Volchkova, who chose two young sports stars as her models.
Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann play netball and AFL respectively and are featured here in their sporting attire.
Unlike the rest of the silos on the trail, Volchkova’s work is painted on two large steel grain silos – however, it doesn’t make it any less impressive than the other taller works.
Location: 1 Gibson Street, Rupanyup
SHEEP HILLS SILO ART
Adnate is a Melbourne-based artist who is known for his work with Aboriginal communities across Australia. His paintings regularly feature members of the Indigenous community and his mural at Sheep Hills is no exception.
It features four Indigenous people (Wergaia Elder, Uncle Ron Marks, and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald) and the starry sky, which is significant within the local community.
Location: 445 Sheep Hills-Minyip Road, Sheep Hills
ARKONA SILO ART
Artist: Sam Bates aka Smug
Head to this small town to see the latest in the Silo Art Trail project.
Smug has painted a fitting and somewhat kooky tribute to local Roley Klinge, which also highlights the importance of tennis in regional communities.
Klinge, a local legend, passed away in 1991. As Smug, who works with photorealism, was unable to photograph him, he came up with another ingenious solution of rendering Klinge onto the tiny town’s grain silo.
Location: 835 Dimboola-Rainbow Rd, Arkona
KANIVA SILO ART
Artists: David Lee Pereira and Jason Parker
This work joined the trail in 2020.
In it, the two artists have painted a vibrant mural based on nearby Little Desert and its diverse flora and fauna.
The image is of an Australian Hobby (a type of falcon), flying between two colourful orchids.
Location: 31 Progress Street, Kaniva
GOROKE SILO ART
Artist: Geoffrey Carran
Birds are a popular theme along the trail.
Artist Geoffrey Carran has painted a mural featuring a kookaburra, galah and magpie, paying tribute to local birdlife.
Quite fitting as the name of this town is the local Aboriginal word for magpie.
Location: Railway St, Goroke
BRIM SILO ART
Artist: Guido van Helten
Van Helten’s work is the first of the Silo Art Trail murals, completed back in 2015.
It depicts four members of the local community, although van Helten has kept silent on his model’s identities.
He has stated that he wants the spotlight to stay on the resilience of all members of the small town, who face ongoing hardships such as economic pressure and the devastating effects of climate change.
This mural went on to inspire the original trail (and now other silo art trails) and has become a regional landmark in itself.
Location: 1986 Henty Highway, Brim
ROSEBERY SILO ART
Kaff-eine completed her mural in late 2017, after assisting Rone with his.
Knowing that her work would be nestled between the monochromatic silos of Brim and Lascelles, Kaff-eine purposefully added colour to her mural, which features a young female farmer on one side and a man in an Akubra having a quiet moment with his horse on the other.
Location: Henty Highway, Rosebery
ALBACUTYA SILO ART
Artist: Kitt Bennett
The brightest silo on the trail is a 2021 addition.
Melbourne artist Kitt Bennett was inspired to create a mural that tells the story of growing up in the country.
The resulting artwork is bright, surreal and somewhat distorted from reality.
Location: Albacutya Road, Rainbow
PATCHEWOLLOCK SILO ART
Artist: Fintan Magee
The Patchewollock silo was completed in late 2016 and features local sheep and grain farmer, Nick “Noodle” Hulland.
Magee believed the then 42 year old embodied the typical look of a farmer and so used him as his muse.
Patchewollock has a population of 250 and is 420km north-west of Melbourne, in the Mallee district.
It’s hoped the mural will help slow and perhaps even prevent the decline of the town.
Location: 88 Cummings Road, Patchewollock
SEA LAKE SILO ART
Artists: Drapl & The Zookeeper
One of the newer pieces of silo art along the trail can be found in the small town of Sea Lake.
The work of street artists Drapl & The Zookeeper, this vibrantly coloured silo features nearby Lake Tyrrell as its centrepiece.
A young girl swings from the branches of a Mallee Eucalyptus, looking over the lake. A Wedge-tailed eagles soars above her, and nearby, three emus run across the land.
The Boorong People of this area were known to have a strong knowledge of astronomy and a deep connection with the giant salt lake that so beautiful reflects the night sky.
Location: Railway Ave, Sea Lake
LASCELLES SILO ART
The mural at Lascelles (or “Leigh Sales” as I kept calling it, Australians will get the terrible joke) features Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, whose family has farmed in the area for four generations. A staggering amount of time, one would agree.
I have to say that of all the murals, this one seems to blend in best with its environment.
Lascelles is truly a tiny town, with a population of just 48.
Location: Lascelles Silo Road, Lascelles
NULLAWIL SILO ART
Artist: Sam Bates aka “Smug”
This addition to the original Silo Art Trail resides in the small town of Nullawil.
This work is by Australian street-artist Smug or Smug One. Smug specialises in photorealism graffiti and is internationally renowned, living in Glasgow, Scotland and working across the world.
This is his second silo art mural (his first is in the town of Wirrabara in SA) and it shows a farmer and his Kelpie.
Unlike the other works, the emphasis in this work is on the dog, highlighting the importance of working animals to local farming communities.
This work was completed in July 2019 and I don’t have pictures of it yet, but have plans to get back out there to snap some. Watch this space!
Location: 26 Calder Hwy, Nullawil
ST ARNAUD SILO ART
Although not technically part of the trail, this silo art can be seen on the same trip, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
Entitled ‘Hope’ the mural is representative of the town’s gold rush history. The local community helped select the design.
A local artist, Torney has several other works located around this town.
Location: 3 McMahon St, St Arnaud
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST NEARBY
Country Victoria is full of all sorts of interesting things, both natural and man-made.
If you want to make a real trip out of your journey to see the painted silos of Victoria, there are plenty of other sights you can visit along the way.
LITTLE DESERT NATIONAL PARK
This park is popular for birdwatching, hiking and four-wheel driving.
Visit in late winter or early summer to see its blossoms and wildflowers.
With accommodation being slim pickings out here, you could choose to camp beside the Barringgi Gadyin, before continuing your journey along the Silo Art Trail.
It’s worth noting the nearby town of Beulah was the setting for Australian movie ‘The Dry’ starring Eric Bana and based on the book by Jane Harper.
Lake Tyrrell, also known as the “Mirror Lake” is in the state’s north-west, not at all far from the Patchewollock silo. There’s a salty formation on the lake bed, which gives it a reflective surface.
The lake is around 120,000 years old and is part of the Indigenous Boorong clan’s land. It features heavily in their stories and astronomy.
Tyrrell’s name derives from the Aboriginal word Tyrille, which means “space” or “sky”. Very fitting.
It’s pretty amazing to see, to be honest and there was no one around when we visited in the late afternoon, apart from one couple and about ten billion bloody flies.
AUSTRALIAN PINBALL MUSEUM
The Australian Pinball Museum has got to be one of the coolest hidden gems in Victoria.
It’s located in the town of Nhill and as the name suggests, contains a collection of pinball machines and pinball art.
The museum holds the largest collection of pinball machines in Australia, with games dating back to 1932.
Definitely a place worth dropping into during your road trip.
MURTOA STICK SHED
This heritage-listed shed is the first of its kind to be built in Victoria.
It was built in the early 1940s for emergency grain store during WWII.
It’s now the last grain stick shed in the country. Very much a unique sight to see while travelling along the Silo Art Trail.
SOVEREIGN HILL, BALLARAT
Ballarat is one of the state’s best known towns from the Gold rush era and packs a whole lotta history.
Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum, paying homage to this era of Victoria’s history. It features a replica of a gold mining town, filled with costumed actors and visitors can go panning for gold.
GRAMPIANS (GARIWERD) NATIONAL PARK
The Grampians as they’re known (Gariwerd is their Indigenous name), are mountains with waterfalls and hiking trails. They’re a great destination to head to if you fancy a day out in nature.
Victoria’s Silo Art Trail is not far from the Grampians at all. If you were heading out there for more than a weekend, you could easily tack on a day spent tramping along trails and taking in the splendour around you (and bird watching too!).
Kryal Castle is on the way back from the Silo Art Trail, if you’re heading home via Ballarat.
It’s a replica of a medieval castle. There’s a maze, jousting, a wizard’s workroom, archery, pony rides… enough to keep you busy for at least an afternoon.
You can even spend the night there and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish to do this.
This area is known for its mineral spring water, which you can experience at Hepburn Bathhouse.
The spa consists of two sections. General bathing is available in the two mineral pools within The Bathhouse, which can be accessed for between $37-$47 dollars (for an adult), depending on the time and day.
For an upgraded luxury experience, you can book into The Sanctuary, for $79-$99 per adult.
A great place to soak your muscles after all that time spend in the car!