Heading north from Warracknabeal, we first stopped at the little town of Brim. I have a friend who plays senior cricket and one of his compatriots is the owner of the Brim General Store. Wavel MacPherson is over eighty years age and plays in a national over-seventies cricket competition. I found him in his office and made myself known to him. I expected him to be a little doddery but he was a very spritely man who complained that because he had competed in an over 70’s cricket match recently in Adelaide, he was ineligible to play in a soon to one held over 60’s game in Canberra. He is still very active in running his business and is a great example of an active older person.
Travelling further, we reached the little location of Rosebery where we came across our fourth painted silo. This one was done by Melbourne street artist Katie Kaff-eine. She has painted a man with a horse on one silo and an image of a woman with a sheep on the second silo. I read that she wanted to paint an image with people and animals to show the relationship between people and the land. She wanted to add a touch of colour as most of the other silos are monotone.
We are certainly at the height of the grain harvesting season. Every grain bin that were passed is busy with trucks unloading and every paddock has headers and other agricultural equipment crawling across them like beetles. They were harvesting right behind the Rosebery silos and I managed to fly across a little way and capture some of the action.
The grain is golden and certainly ready to harvest.
At the junction of the Calder Highway, we came to the little town of Lascelles, where the fifth silo on our tour is situated. I had seen this silo once before when we passed by on my recent trip to the Flinders Ranges. This is a little different from the others as the paintings are on opposite sides of the two-silo structure and it takes two photographs to illustrate both of them.
Like most of the other silos, the Lascelles silo is 30 meters high, so these are again a large scale piece of art. Painted by an artist named Rone, the murals depict the faces of long term Lascelles couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, whose families have lived and farmed in the Lascelles area for four generations. They were not only born in the district, this couple married in Lascelles in 1967 and together with their two sons (and their own families) have continued the family traditions of wheat farming along with its very hard working lifestyle. It may not have been difficult to select them as subjects as there are only 48 people living in the town.
Our sixth and final silo was the defunct one at Patchewollock, near Ouyen. The silo here, has just been finished. It was painted by a well known street artist, Fintan Magee who has painted similar buildings ion Norway and other parts of the world. It is a portrait of local farmer, Nick Hulland who has apparently been teased mercilessly and nicknamed ‘silo man’ by the locals. The artist thought that he had that ‘typical farmer look’ and was slim enough to fit the two narrow silos. The mural also depicts a tree dying and new growth to represent the bush life cycle.
The name Patchewollock comes from two Aboriginal words: putje, plenty, and wallah, porcupine grass. The town was first established after the First World War when soldier settlement blocks were made available in the area. With a population of 250 people, the town struggles commercially but still has a pub and a post office / general store with basic supplies and some food. It was our one and only option for lunch and we unded up buying a rather unimaginative ham and cheese sandwich and a banana. There wasn’t much more!
Before travelling to our overnight stop at Mildura, we made a detour to the Murray-Sunset National Park to photograph some of the lakes there that glow pink. Their colour is due to the presence of red algae that, along with the solid salt bed of the lakes, create a pink colour. The pink is at its most intense after rain, due to fresh nutrients being washed into the lakes, which in turn trigger the growth of algae. At other times, the pink fades into a paler colour that is almost white. In a sort of way, the lakes appear to be polarised. If you can get to see them from the right angle of sunlight, their pink colour is intensified. The lakes were the basis of a thriving commercial salt industry that commenced in 1916 and continued up to 1979, when the area was declared a state park.They have now been incorporated into what is the second largest national park in the state at 633,000 hectares.
We settled in at our motel at Mildura ready for a night of fine dining. Dinner tonight was at Stefano’s Restaurant at the Grand Hotel. We luxuriated in a five course dinner that took around three hours. The restaurant is located in the basement of the hotel, In what was originally the wine cellar and keg room. Stefano de Pieri is an Italian born chef and well known because of his coverage in the media. There is no menu at his restaurant. Each day, he simply chooses the best and freshest local ingredients that he can find and serves tham as beautiful dishes to his guests. His staff don’t know what they will be serving until they start work each evening. Eating at his restaurant is like a series of surprises. Beautiful food and beautiful wine!