Our motel at Sea Lake was built a good number of years ago but was quite clean and comfortable. Every door had a different colour – ours was the lemon yellow one. We were out and about by 9.00 am this morning and found something for breakfast in the only cafe in town that was open (the other one was closed). Sea Lake has a couple of murals on a wall in the maim street and we liked their vibrance and character. I think this one displays a young girl in the canola fields that are planted around the region.
We popped around to the railway line and re-visited the silos in Sea lake for one last look before we headed out of town
This is the last day of our trip and our route took us almost due south so that we could see the last three silos on the Silo Art Trail. Our first stop was at Rosebury. There is no town there – it is just a location on the railway line and I don’t think that the silos have been used for many years
These silos were built in 1939 and were painted by a Melbourne based artist named Kaff-eine. (I’m impressed with all the weird and creative names that these silo artists have assumed). She spent time in the local area learning about the natural environment and acquainting herself with local business owners, families, farmers and children so that she could paint something that truly reflected local life.
The silo art trail notes say that the silo on the left captures the tenacity and character of the region’s young female farmers, who regularly face drought, fires and other hardships living and working in the Mallee. In her work shirt, jeans and turned-down cowboy boots, the strong young female sheep farmer symbolises the future. The silo on the right portrays a quiet moment between dear friends. The contemporary horseman appears in Akubra hat, Bogs boots and oilskin vest – common attire for Mallee farmers. Both man and horse are relaxed and facing downward, indicating their mutual trust, love and genuine connection.
A little further down the road were the silos at Sheep Hills. These were built in 1938. They show four aboriginal characters – Wergaia Elder, Uncle Ron Marks, and Wotjobaluk Elder, Aunty Regina Hood, alongside two young children, Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald celebrates the richness of the area’s Indigenous culture. The night sky represents elements of local dreaming and the overall image signifies the important exchange of wisdom, knowledge and customs from Elders to the next generation. These are probably the most colourful of all the silos.
The last silos on our tour were at the town of Rupanyup. The paintings on these silos is the work of Russian mural artist, Julia Volchkova, who turned her attention to the town’s youth and their great love of team sport. The work vividly captures the spirit of community and provides an accurate insight into rural youth culture.
The featured faces are those of Rupanyup residents and local sporting team members, Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann. Fresh-faced and dressed in their sports attire (netball and Australian Rules football, respectively), Baker and Weidemann embody a youthful spirit of strength, hope and camaraderie.
From Rupamnyip, we drove across to another Mallee / Wimmera town of Murtoa to see something entirely different. Murtoa’s Stick Shed, formally known as the Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store, is a large grain store. It was constructed in 1942 and almost 20 metres high, 260 metres long, and 60 metres wide, the building is an example of Australian rural architecture with its use of unmilled timber poles and corrugated iron. It held over 92,000 towns of wheat.
The store was listed on the Australian National Heritage List in 2014, recognising its place “as a significant part of Australia’s history associated with Australia’s wheat industry and the impact of World War Two on the home front”
In 1939-40, a good wheat crop and a heavily reduced export trade due to World War II led to grain stockpiling and a shortage of storage facilities. This prompted the Australian Wheat Board to design and build the first large bulk storages in Australia. They were referred to as ‘bulkheads’ originally, then commonly known as Emergency Wheat Storage Sheds.
A steel shortage meant the shed was built largely from readily available timber, some 560 unmilled mountain ash poles erected into the auger-dug footings in the ground. Concrete was manually poured around the footings. Galvanised hoop-iron was used in most structural joints. This adapted solution was due to problems with differing pole sizes and the expected shrinkage, warping and twisting of unseasoned hardwood. This contributed to the building’s capacity to survive for more than 75 years, as it gave the structure the ability to move and shift due to internal usage stresses and high winds without collapsing.
We found an open cafe for lunch in the town that was all but deserted on a quiet Sunday afternoon. We had planned to spend the night in Horsham but we had reached there by early afternoon. We heard on the radio that the government is further restricting movement around the country from the day after tomorrow so it is important that get home a little earlier. From then on we will have very little opportunity of movement and we will largely be restricted to our home. We decided to travel on to the town of Dunkeld at the Southern end of the Grampian Ranges.
There is a very special hotel there where we are staying tonight with a superb gourmet restaurant. We are lapping up lovely food as our ‘last supper’ before we head home tomorrow to much more mundane fare that we have in the pantry and in the freezer.
The country that we have been travelling through on this driving trip. has been very flat with straight roads and has not provided us with much of a driving challenge.
Our last few miles today got us used to winding roads again and re-acclimatised ourselves to steering around curves. We really need to get back here one day to revisit some more areas in the mountain range.
We also got to see some wildlife in the mountains as we passed through the town of Halls Gap with emus and kangaroos grazing in the open for a late afternoon feed.