Art Trail: Discovering Australia’s Biggest Outdoor Gallery

Travelling to Australia generally means one of three things: beach, outback, or barbeque. And while any of these can make for a fine trip overseas, isn’t it time to change the tune, just a little? Road trips are no mean feat in Australia, and with miles and miles of open terrain to cover, there’s a whole lot to be said for hitting the road. Beach paths are all well and good, but if you really want to get up close and personal with the locals, it’s worth abandoning the old tourist favourites. Victoria’s wheatbelt is one of the country’s hidden treasures, home to some of the region’s most spectacular sights.

On The Art Trail

Located on Australia’s South East coast, Victoria’s wheatbelt is practically a hop, skip, and a jump away from buzzing Melbourne. Taking in the Murray river, the Wimmera Mallee, and the region’s feted pink lakes, the road tracks an Australia a whole lot less travelled. There’s even more to the region than natural beauty, however, and if you look a little closer, you might just be in for a surprise.

Diamond in the Rough

Rural decay and railway wastage have created an utterly unique landscape along this stretch of road, and over the years, artists have taken to the concrete backdrops like moths to a flame. Started by pioneering artist Guido van Helten, the Victoria wheatbelt has been transformed into a sort of contemporary art trail. Van Helten’s 2015 sculptural megalith was what started it all and, rising out of the sun-beaten skyline, it inspired artists from all over the world to make their mark on the trail.

A Family Affair

When word hit, it hit fast. Before long, international street artist agency Juddy Roller was involved, creating a street art initiative with the local government. Using the huge silos that dot the mammoth route, artists set out to create a series of giant portraits, each capturing their own take on the local region. As of the end of 2017, six silos have been completed. Today, the Silo Art Trail has been touted as the largest outdoor gallery in the country.

The Cream of the Crop

Stretching roughly two hundred kilometres, the Silo Art Trail is the perfect place for a little cultural contemplation. Following a straight line, the route invites even the most geographically shy to fling themselves into adventure; there’s very little chance of getting lost! Starting off with Fintan Magee’s artwork, located at Patchewollock, and completing the trip with Julia Vochkova’s work at Rupanyup is the tried and tested route, but nothing says you can’t mix it up a little!

A Route Less Travelled 

Entering the route in Halls Gap will take you directly into the magnificent Grampians National Park, a natural sight well worth seeing. Follow the route (after a pit stop or two) and you’ll hit Lascelles, the site of the first silo on this stretch of road. Melbourne artist Rone is responsible for the work on display; towering towards the sky, it’s well worth taking in, especially at sundown. From this point, you will find your way through the towns of Patchewollock, Hopetoun, Brim, and Sheep Hills, where four of the six completed works stand tall. Finally, make your way to the small town of Rupanyup and the work of Vochkova. A series of black and white portraits take pride of place on the Russian artist’s silos, representing the importance of sport in the local area.

The Silo Art Trail is a concept based entirely on the importance of community, and the closeness of seemingly disparate cultures. Taking in some of the most forgotten road space in Australia, the trail shines a light on the lesser-known areas of the world, proving that there is beauty to behold absolutely everywhere.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.