The North East Victoria Silo Art trail is a series of public artworks located north of Benalla in north east Victoria. There are currently six pieces spread across five different locations. The trail itself spans approximately 132 kilometres and takes around two and a half hours to drive.
Silo Art in Australia is becoming ever more popular. Across the country some of the biggest artworks in the world have been appearing. Giant silos and water towers are often used as the canvasses. They are big, bold and increasingly becoming a part of the landscape. We’ve previously written about another Victorian trail, that of the Wimmera Mallee here.
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Silo Art in Australia
Benalla is also home to the wall to wall festival which was first established in 2015. It’s since become the largest regional mural festival in Australia. Over 70 street artists having taken part over the years. Many of the artworks created are within Benalla itself. The result is one of the most densely packed street art galleries in Australia. Some key pieces however are further afield and can be visited as part of the north east victoria silo art trail.
North East Victoria Silo Art Trail
The following order is the best way to see the trail. Starting in Benalla head north towards Goorambat. Here there are two pieces to see. Keep heading north towards Devenish, St James and Tungamah, the most northern artwork. Head back south towards the Winton Wetlands for the sixth and then back to Benalla to complete the circuit.
Goorambat Silo – Jimmy Dvate (2018 & 2019)
Jimmy Dvate is well known for his depictions of the natural world. Based in Melbourne the artist will often take time to research the local area paying specific attention to its ecology. The endangered Barking Owl was first painted on the taller silo in 2018. Wanting to depict the birds connection to the local landscape, Dvate painted that onto a second smaller silo. According to Jimmy Dvate less than 50 breeding pairs are left in the Victorian bush. The Barking Owl used on the silo was called Millibai and lent by the Healesville Sanctuary.
Returning in 2019, Jimmy Dvate added a third silo to his work as part of the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail. This time depicting three Clydesdale pack horses called Sam, Banjo and Clem. They are shown in formation presumably towing the ploughs with which they would have been put to work. The area around Goorambat is farming country and so the sight of these animals working the land would have been a familiar one. Clydesdales horses have been described as the backbone of the Goorambat farming community.
Sophia of Goorambat – Adnate (2017)
One of the most spectacular pieces of street art on the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail can be seen inside the tiny Uniting Church. Created by Matt Adnate in 2017 it depicts Sophia the ‘female aspect of the holy spirit’. According to ‘Visit Melbourne‘ it is a tradition which draws on the spirit of God as it manifested in the Old Testament times and the post Pentecostal period. The portrait in the church kick started Goorambat’s love affair with the street art scene. Immediately drawing visitors to the town, the portrait of Sophia would follow in the subsequent two years with silo art from Jimmy Dvate.
Devenish Silo – Cam Scale (2018 & 2019)
The Devenish silos from Melbourne based street artist Cam Scale are very much tributes to the Australian armed forces. Painted in two parts the two larger silos were completed in 2018 and show two women from across the ages. The first a modern army medic stands next to the image of a nurse from world war 1. Poppies join the two paintings together. The piece shows the changing role of women in the military. The murals were unveiled on Anzac day in 2018
The next stage of the Devenish silos painted was unveiled the year after in 2019, also on Anzac Day. This time the artist Cam Scale chose to pay tribute to the Australian Light Horse. These were mounted troops who served in both the boer war and in world war 1.
St James Silo – Tim Bowtell (2019)
Local artist Tim Bowtell painted the graincorp silos at St James. From Benalla himself, the artist is well known for his work in the local area. More of his large scale silo art can also be seen at Colbinabbin. His mural in St James as part of the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail spans four different silos. They are painted in a kind of sepia tone representing the historical nature of his subject, that of the entrepreneur George Coles
Coles is the name behind the now famous brand of Coles superstores. He had a strong connection with St James and the local area. In 1892 he bought North Eastern Stores which had two branches in St James and nearby Lake Rowan. Later he would build a 10 bedroom house in the township, living there for a number of years. In 1903 he sold the St James store to his eldest son (also called George). George would sell the store in 1913 and afterwards in 1914 launched the first of what is now known as Coles Stores in Melbourne.
Tungamah Silo – Sobrane Simcock (2018 & 2019)
Nature features heavily in the Tungamah silos from West Australian artist Sobrane Simcock. Painted in two parts over two years, Sobrane first depicted a Kookaburra and two dancing Brolgas. Both birds can be found in the local area. Kookaburras are quite common in the country but the Brolgas can really only be found in low lying swamp such as the nearby Tungamah Swamp. A member of the crane family, they are shown dancing together.
The following year in 2019 Sobrane Simcock returned to Tungamah. Adding to her work on the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail with some cockatoos, a kingfisher and some local flora and fauna. Part 2 of her silo painting actually took longer than part 1 due to the added complexity and detail.
Winton Wetlands Tank – Guido van Helten (2016)
Created as part of the wall to wall festival in 2016. Guido van Helten took inspiration from members of the Country Fire Authority (CFA). In total he painted three local volunteers. These were Colin Hooke from Chesney Vale Brigade, Robert Green of Taminick Brigade and Danielle Spokes of Winton Brigade. All were painted onto the concrete water tank. It’s a unique feature in what is a unique landscape. In addition to being a part of the North East Victoria Silo Art Trail, the work by van Helten also forms part of another more local art trail in the wetlands.
The North East Victoria Silo Art Trail is a street art trail located north of Benalla in Victoria, Australia. This post was researched during February 2021. All photos in this post are via ‘Enjoy Benalla’ unless otherwise credited. The cover image is by Rene Martens