A public art trail

For nearly three years Mark and I have been trying to do the FORM silo trail but things kept getting in the way; however we are finally doing it, but it has turned into so much more than just the silos; we find ourselves zigzagging around the place to find all the public art and interesting places that we could.

I have to say before I start that our most exciting moment went unrecorded – we were driving along and saw a Wedge-tailed eagle on the road being hassled by several smaller birds. Our car disturbed them all, but it was wonderful watching it fly away. I was knitting so couldn’t get to my camera, but you can look them up on the internet. They are really big, quite dark and have a long wedge-shaped tail – hence the name. They also have feathery legs. They are Australia’s largest bird of prey and are one of the biggest eagles in the world, so a pretty fabulous sight.

Ok, back to the business at hand! Below is the Northam silo, with this quirky painting showing transportation devices at one end, and the colourful painting at the other. We couldn’t decide which end we liked best, but I could see myself wearing fabric painted like the colourful end! Northam also sports the odd building that has been decorated.The building on the right is the historic flour mill and depicts the “last swans”, which are the only white swans living in the wild in Australia and which make their home on the banks of the local Avon River.

We found the quirky, the interesting and another silo – this time in Meriden. The photo on the left shows the Ettamogah Pub, which has a car perched precariously on its roof. Ettamogah means “place of a good drink” and was made famous by the cartoons of Ken Maynard. Unfortunately the surrounds aren’t that appealing.

For those of you not from Australia, a road train is like a train but all the “carriages” are trailers. Overtaking one can be very testing!

Many of the silos, unsurprisingly, represent the agricultural heritage of the area. As a side note: when I was learning to fly and had to navigate solo round the countryside (which is scary in a landscape with few reference points), I used the town names painted on the tops of the silos to confirm where I was. I loved all these towns from the air because they helped me hop my way round the State!

The silos above are in Merredin and show the landforms, the agricultural history and the diversity of the local community.

it’s been years since we visited Wave Rock, which is a beautiful geological formation, and this time we also visited Hippo’s Yawn – an obvious name for this rock! The rock formations in the area are just beautiful. I have a real love of rocks and almost did a graduate degree in geology at one point, until I got a grip!

We also visited Mulka’s Cave, which has a rather disturbing Aboriginal story attached to it. Mulka was the result of an illicit relationship between a woman and a man she wasn’t allowed to marry, and as a result of this he was born with crossed eyes, which meant he couldn’t throw a spear. However, he was extremely tall and strong. As he couldn’t catch animals he turned to catching and eating children and lived in this cave. It is said that the handprints high up on the walls and ceiling are his, (although they look like they are stencilled on!) and there are over 400 handprints in the cave.

Hyden has a whole row of street art, which is quite clever. here is a sample. I think most of it refers to locals, but it’s still enjoyable.

We then headed off for the Tin Horse Highway. It has to be said at this point that I got my geography completely wrong which meant that we did more zigging and zagging than planned, but no matter!

A community marketing campaign to promote the annual Kulin Bush Races (horse racing) has grown to include many horses created by the local farmers. There is also a neat competition between farmers to the east and west of the town, resulting in some very entertaining examples. This one is on the edge of the football oval and shows a horse taking a mark. (this means catching the ball, but one form of mark means the “catcher” uses the back and shoulders of an opposition player, which is what this is showing).

Flying in a Cessna 152, which is the type of plane I learned to fly in!

This made me laugh – it’s Fillypousis!

the chopper is pretty cool

Made me smile!

I’ve been here!

Farmer humour!

A last single one for my friend, Suzanne!

Just a few more for your enjoyment. There are many more than I have shown here, but I had to stop at some point!

This silo is in Newdegate and references the salt lake, as well as the flora and fauna of the area. The water droplet is the salt lake (the white half) and the blue half represents the fresh water lakes and rain, with the earth depicted by the coloured squares. The bird is a mallee fowl, which is about the size of a chicken (and distantly related), they lay their eggs in a mound and they are highly prized by the local Aboriginal people. The little marsupial is the red-tailed phascogale, which is quite rare and only found in this area. It is tiny but can jump many times its own length. The last silo depicts the Western Bearded Dragon. I’m not sure what type of frog is shown, but it is probably one of the following interestingly named frogs: a motorbike frog, a bleating frog, a moaning frog, hooting, humming, ticking or rattling frog. Or even a squelching frog!

Ravensthorpe is home to six silos that show the six stages of the Banksia Baxteri. I found these to be utterly charming and of course, we all love banksias!

From Ravensthorpe we drove to Hopetoun and I’m not sure I’ve ever been here before. The best thing about the drive was the Farmgate Art. Once again the farmers of the region have excelled themselves with their creativity. Again, this is just a small sample of the art we saw. I really loved the Cornishware tea service. Mark insisted I stand amongst it as I had a matching jumper.

The artistic style of the silos at Pingrup is quite different, but requires no commentary. It’s clear what the business of this area is!

When we got to Dumbleyung I was very excited to see a replica of Bluebird, the vehicle that Donald Campbell broke the water speed record on Lake Dumbleyung. Of course the original broke up on Coniston Waters in the UK.

Donald Campbell also broke the land speed record on Lake Eyre in the same year, which has never been done before, or since!

This statue of him made from chicken wire is pretty sensational.

I’ve blogged the silos in Albany before. This is the Ruby Seadragon, which is known for its unusual bright red colouring, and I was surprised to learn that it is only the third species of seadragon ever recorded in the world. 

Albany is also famous for Dog Rock, which is a rock formation basically in the centre of town. Also in the centre of town are lots of murals, the one in the centre below being one example. The walks around Albany are spectacular, lots of bush and lots of sea views.

We were so delighted to see a Quenda (also known as a bandicoot) foraging in the bush.

From Albany we drove to Denmark, not for the public art, but for nature’s art. The rock formation below is known as Elephant Rocks, for obvious reasons.

The beaches in Demark are just wonderful. Mark was in a tee shirt, but I rugged up a bit more. I love little gaps between the rocks, but it was a pretty deep wade to get on to the beach. On the right is a waterfall that is right on the beach.

Our final destination was Katanning, which doesn’t have silo art, but does have nice street art scattered around. The statues on the right are at Ewlyamartup Lake.

We stayed in the converted Piesse flour mill, and it was full of charm and interest.

The top centre photo is of a loading bay, which is now one of the windows in our room, complete with a swivelling hoist. Apparently these doors gave a view over the Mill’s workshop where the handyman repaired machinery, horse harness and any other broken equipment. The sewing machine looked to be in working condition and was used to repair flour sacks. There was evidence of the flour mill everywhere, from chutes, augurs, slowly turning turbines, pulleys and purifiers. We even saw the flour bag printer! We had dinner in the basement, which was originally the wheat receiving area. The wine bar is made from repurposed timber taken from the building and behind me is the Mill’s engine’s main shaft which distributed power from the engine to machinery through the Mill via a system of belts and pulleys.

The owner of the Mill also had wineries and soft drink and cordial businesses. Wine was stored in this basement area and it’s now known as the Cordial Bar. Fruits from around Western Australia and rainwater combined to produce pretty amazing cordials, from what I can gather. They aerated the cordials with CO2 gas which was made on site using sulphuric acid. Bottles were hand washed using a caustic soda solution, so life wasn’t terribly easy, and apparently the bottles were prone to explode.

The wines won many international awards, and the cordial business was bought out by Coca Cola and the recipes lost. However, they have attempted to recreate them in small batches with no artificial colours or preservatives. I can attest to their deliciousness as I had a Paloma Fizz, which is Pink grapefruit, soda and grenadine. So good!

This short road trip has whetted our appetites for more, so we are spending quite a lot of time planning where to go next. We will probably stay within the state as things are still slightly precarious and we’d hate to not be able to get home.

I seem to have gone overboard with photos and commentary and for that I apologise, but it’s hard to do a trip like this justice without doing so.


22 thoughts on “A public art trail

  1. Fabulous post. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious trip – and the tin horses in particular are appealing as an ex horse slave (I think I was chucked off like that one you remarked on too). Since we have barely been allowed to travel here in the uk this has been a treat. Thanks Sue!

    1. thank you so much Kim, I’m so pleased to find that people still enjoy my posts. Darned horses – I had one that nibbled my pony tail off without me knowing about it!!

  2. Like Kim, I enjoyed vicariously traveling along! What a wonderful, meandering adventure. I love rocks, too. My favorite pattern weights are three beautifully cut Thunder Eggs, given to me by a generous fellow rock-lover. Thank you so much for this entertaining post with such lovely photos, Sue! ❤️ Kristen

  3. Another wonderful trip! Great photos and commentary. Especially appreciated by this reader from New England in the U.S. as I don’t expect to ever visit Australia . Thanks so much Sue.

    1. Thank you Ellen, Australia is such a long way from the US, which is such a shame as it’s a great place to visit! However, you have some gorgeous scenery and interesting historic places, which I would love to visit!

  4. Most of my family live in Horsham, so we followed the Winners Silo Trail on a visit to Victoria a few years ago. If you make it over to the east coast it is worth seeing. They are a great celebration of Australia’s rural areas.

    ‘The Silo Art Trail is Australia’s largest outdoor gallery. The trail stretches over 200 kilometres, linking Brim with neighbouring towns Lascelles, Patchewollock, Rosebery, Rupanyup and Sheep Hills.
    Providing an insight into the true spirit of the Wimmera Mallee, the trail recognises and celebrates the region’s people through a series of large-scale mural portraits painted onto grain silos, many of which date back to the 1930s.’

  5. Don’t apologise for your post as it was so interesting. So many beautiful photos and it is certainly a wonderful advert for folk to travel to WA. I will put it on my things to do when travel between states is not such a tricky thing to contemplate.

  6. Thank you for sharing all the incredible art and natural beauty. It is such a joy to see these things that I probably will never see in person. I even shared this with my husband as he came thru to get his morning coffee.

    1. Oh, you’ve made my day Gail, thank you so much. The world is such a big place, we can’t see it all, so it’s nice to show the bits I can visit.

  7. Thank you for sharing al the amazing art and sites, and allowing me to travel vicariously through your photos.

  8. Never too many photos for a road trip, loved seeing it all and more notes for our trip to Perth. Oh know all about zigging and zagging we did the same with the silos and art around Hayden, Portland areas.

  9. Thank you so much for the virtual tour. Living in the US (and not being so young anymore!), i will never visit these glorious places “in real life.” As an art major, I so enjoyed your pix. Australia seems to be such an interesting and amazing place. Never too many photos. Thanks for taking the time to do this for all of us.

    Love your sewing projects as well. The jumper is fabulous.

    1. Thank you so much! I have come to the conclusion that we can’t go everywhere, so it’s good if we can share our own environments for others to enjoy. I really appreciate your comment.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing Sue! All these weren’t there when I went to WA about 40 years ago, but its has always been on my list to go back- I have always been fascinated by wave rock, particularly. Love the Aussie humor 😂😂😂

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