Last week, a trip that was a year in the planning finally rolled around. One week rambling around outback NSW, taking in Broken Hill, Silverton and Lake Mungo and all the little towns between.
My travelling companions were fellow photographers from the Victorian Photographers Collective plus their spouses. Thirteen of us left Melbourne on the Sunday, met up with two more in Broken Hill and one more in Mungo. Sixteen photographers in total, everyone got on great, looked out for each other, laughed, groaned at the walking and had a ball. We covered around 2000 kms….. and a fair amount of that was dirt roads. I think I am cured of dirt roads for the next year!
Our first overnight stop was St Arnaud… solely based on it was closest proximity with reasonable accommodation, to Rapunyup where another silo was in progress of being painted. We stayed in a very nice budget motel in St Arnaud and headed off on the 40 min journey to Rapanyup next morning. The organisers of the silo art trail boast about the extra tourists the silos are bringing to the region, but accommodation and cafe’s are thin on the ground (if not invisable) and everyone just stops, shoots off a few pics and travels on. The towns still have a ‘lost and neglected’ feel to them, with boarded up, empty shops and no one on the street.
Monday morning wer woke to glorious sunny blue skies… warm enough for t-shirts too!. We left St Arnaud after breakfast and headed to Rapanyup. The Silo’s are smaller than the huge concrete ones that have been painted already, and are being painted by Russian artist Julia Kolchkova. Julia started about a week ago and at the rate she is going they will be finished in the next week or so. Behind the silo’s is a disused Railway Station – apparently it has been sold, but I dont know what the purpose of it will be. Its probably too much to hope that it will be a cafe and gift shop or B & B.
Next stop on our trip heading North West was Sheep Hills, just 42kms down the road. These were much taller than the Rupanyup Silo’s and were painted by Matt Adnate. Extremely lifelike Aboriginal faces gazed down on us, the detail on them is amazing. The chap in the red shirt saw us all pull in and checked it out too… he hadnt heard of them lol…. but he gives you and idea of the size of the silos.
After stopping off in Warrackanabeal for lunch and a wander around we headed towards Brim. The Brim silo’s were the first to be painted and the popularity of them, led to the others. The Brim Silos stand beside the Henty Hwy and are the work of Guido Van Helton featuring four locals from the area. To find the silo’s, no real address is needed, just a town name as you can see them from milesd out, dominating the landscape as you drive in (and there are now signs directing you to them if you are geographically challenged like the husband)
Next stop was Patchewollock 87kms up the road. It was the longest gap between painted silo’s, as the two more scheduled to be added by the end of the year, are in Rosbery and Lascelles. Putting them between Brim and Patchewollock. There is no cellular reception in Patchewollock or the surrounding area so dont rely on your phone as a GPS. You’re going to need paper maps to direct you to the next town. There was also no petrol or food that we saw in Patchewollock – so fill up both the car and yourself in Warracknabeal. Alongside the silo’s look for the old Patchewollock Station and some old machinery and carts gracefully rusting into the red Mallee earth.
Red Cliffs, Mildura
From Patchewollock, relying on paper maps we headed first to Walepeup, then Ouyen and finally Mildura. Our overnight destination for the day. Just before Mildura we stopped of at Red Cliffs lookout – and drove around in circles for a while with everyone’s GPS telling them different things. We eventually found the lookout… damaged and fenced off.. but with a fence low enough to be overcome 😉
Unfortunately there was a glitch with our booking for the night and there was no room at the inn. The motel owner found us alternate accom quickly and we settled in down the road Cottonmouth Motel… lovely hosts, eager to help us and settle us in after the mix up. The changing of motels and getting organised blew our plans for sunset out of the water though.. so we settled on a nice dinner at the local RSL
Next day………………….Mildura to Broken Hill