The Covid-19 virus is impacting the lives of everyone in Victoria and Australia. We had planned a trip to Tasmania this week but we weren’t quite comfortable enough to head off to an island state where if anything serious happened, we could be stuck for a few weeks and unable to get home.
We don’t need to ’self isolate’ as is requited in Australia if we have just returned from overseas, have any symptoms of the disease nor have we been in contact wth anyone impacted by the virus. Instead, we need to maintain a level of ‘social distance’ – avoiding close contact and not being in crowded areas with lots of other people.
As a result, we have decided to spend this week travelling around the areas of Victoria in which the silo art trail is established. The Australian Silo Art movement began in Northam, Western Australia in 2015. Now there are currently 35 silos and water tanks in the Australian Silo Art Trail with many more yet to come. Most of the sites are in small and remote locations where population density is low. Today, we have only encountered three people, other than a few at other tables in the pub at dinner tonight. Over the next few days, we will never be further than one day’s drive from home.
After leaving home this morning, we travelled north through the towns of Yea and then on to Yark. We even took a couple of old fashioned thermos flasks so that we could have a cup of coffee / tea as we travelled without having to visit crowded cafes. It was a pleasant drive through the Strathbogie Ranges to Euroa where we bought some pies and sausage rolls at the local bakery for lunch. There must have been some very brave people from this area as the war memorial in the town features three Victoria Cross recipients from WW1.
We followed some back roads though through grazing country to our first art trial stop at the little town of Tatong.
There is literally nothing in the town but a tavern and in the grounds is a small painted water tank next to a wooden cabin. It’s not a very exciting start to this trip as I walked right past it without noticing it. Fortunately, some of the art work on silos that we will see over the next few days will be much more impressive. This water tank features some historic scenes and a view of the Kelly Gang prospecting for gold in the local area.
From Tatong, we headed across to the Winton Wetlands. This is the area of the old Lake Makoan.
Lake Mokoan was an artificial lake that was created by diverting water from the Broken River and Hollands Creek into the Winton and Green swamps. Construction began in the late 1960s and was completed in 1971. The large, shallow lake had a very high surface area to volume ratio, resulting in extreme water loss through evaporation. The Victorian government decided to decommission the lake to restore the landscape to a more natural wetland and woodland ecosystem in 2004. In 2010 the Lake Mokoan site was reformed into the Winton Wetlands Reserve but with the drought, it is currently completely dry.
We knew that there was a painted water tank in one area of the wetlands that is part of the art silo trail. What we didn’t expect was to find a road full of creative art. Along Boggy Creek Road, we found many works displaying local fish and trees painted in a way that took on an appearance of Aboriginal art.
The infamous Water Tank, painted by an artist named Guido Van Helten in 2016, shows three local Country Fire Authority volunteers. It has proved to be a most popular feature of this area. It is in a unique situation on the site – in an open area and surrounded by a backdrop of dead trees that have died as a result of the flooding in the reservoir.