Every Australian state and territory now has some painted grain silos or water tower art to find as you road trip around the country. But with more than 44 silos and over 80 water towers and numbers growing all the time, it can hard to fit them all into an itinerary. For travellers driving between Adelaide and Melbourne, here’s one way to tick a few of these eye-catching marvels off your list.
The views as you travel between Adelaide and Melbourne by road are typically rural Australian scenes. Flocks of sheep graze in paddocks, and sometimes the occasional tractor in a field breaks the monotony of the acres of golden stubble, farm outbuildings and stacks of hay bales. Along the way, by taking a few rest stops and short detours off the main highways, you can discover a few of the large scale murals and silo art, which give a whole new perspective and joy to this road trip.
From South Australia, begin by following the Dukes Highway, National Highway A8, south-east towards the Victorian border. The first of the silo art can be found on this route, in the town of Coonalpyn, approximately 160 kilometres from Adelaide. The silos are on the side of the highway and there is plenty of parking space available for cars, vans and trucks to pull over and appreciate the incredible art work.
These grain silos are over 30 metres tall and were the first to be painted in South Australia. They feature the images of five local school children painted in a photo-realistic style by Australian artist, Guido van Helten, and represent the future of the town.
Continuing the drive for around another 150 kilometres and crossing the Victorian border, the next art stop is Kaniva. This rural town is renowned for its painted fiberglass sheep which you will begin to see from the moment you drive into the town. Following the sheep art trail is a good way to give your legs a stretch as you walk around town to find the more than 40 painted sheep and 2 dogs. The sheep celebrate the town’s history with designs by various community groups and they all wear ear tags, giving their names and stories.
A newer edition to the art in Kaniva are the painted silos which you can also spot as you drive into town. These colourful silos were painted by Australian artist, David Lee Pereira, and the artwork features an Australian hobby bird, a small falcon that can be seen in this area. The other elements of the painting are the locally found plains orchid and sun orchid.
From Kaniva, detour south easterly off the highway for around 57 kilometres to the town of Goroke, where you will find one of the latest silo art projects which was completed late in 2020 by local artist, Geoffrey Carran. These grain silos also depict iconic Australian native birds which are found in the region, against the backdrop of the local farming landscape. The magpie references the town name, which means magpie in the local Wotjobaluk language. These paintings hold a few secrets too, which I wouldn’t have known about had it not been for a fortuitous meeting with a local farmer who stopped for a chat.
He passed on a few tips for what else to look for when you stop to see these silos. They include noticing the reflection of the landscape in the kookaburra’s and magpie’s eyes and to look deep into the background, to find emus and kangaroos in the landscape. Other touches in the mural include iconic historical references in the bull oak and barbed wire droppers that the birds sit on. A beautiful piece of public art that is a source of pride to the locals while bringing tourists in and revitalising the region.
After Goroke, continue driving a further 115 kilometres east to the town of Rupanyup for the next silos painted by Russian artist Julia Volchkova. These silos feature two young local people painted in a pared-back monochromatic style and dressed in their netball and Australian Rules football uniforms. This mural signifies the youthful spirit in rural areas and the importance that sport plays in the fabric of these communities.
Continue heading east for a little over 60 kilometres towards the town of St Arnaud for the next artistic stop. St Arnaud has nine areas around town where you can find public art by local artist, Kyle Torney. His spectacular and hauntingly realistic silo art piece is titled ‘Hope’ and refers to the town’s gold mining history. It’s worth taking a short walk or drive around town to find some of the other murals before joining the Calder Highway which will take you the last 240 kilometres into Melbourne.
This is an easy route that only takes a few deviations on the drive from Adelaide to Melbourne, to see some of the amazing silo art and other public art in regional areas. If you have the time to stay a while, you can find plenty more examples on the silo art trail which winds through regional Victoria linking towns over a stretch of 200 kilometres.