November 11, 2019

Western Australia's Silo Art Trail

Michael Osborne explores the Public Silo Trail in WA

Australian’s are amazing when it comes to creativity, in particular when times are tough in the bush. One only has to see some of the great inventions our forebears created to help them survive our climate.

As we are aware, our country is enduring one of the worst drought and dry spell for many a year. The people on the land are suffering and are looking at tourism dollars to earn some money to see them over until the next wet.

So along comes FORM.

FORM is an independent, non-profit cultural organisation that develops and advocates for excellence in creativity and artistic practice in Western Australia.

They come up with a concept - The Public Silo Trail – which is a partnership between FORM and Co-operative Bulk Handling Group (CBH Group).

One can imagine the conversation, ‘Look, we have all these giant white grain silos, so why don’t we get together with the local communities and check-out some artists and get a few murals painted on them.’ Might look pretty good!

The end result a 1,000km self-drive art trail that you can start in Perth, and head east and travel through Northam – Merredin – Ravensthorpe - Newdegate – Pingrup – Katanning – and down south to Albany.

One of the largest outdoor art galleries in the world.

At Northam we were taken to the Bilya Koort Boodja Aboriginal Centre. This is the best audio/visual presentation on indigenous people I have ever seen. I kept walking back and rechecking the exhibits as there was so much to try and absorb in the short period we had.

There are other attractions along the way, including a Yabby farm, at Kukerin where local yabbies are readied for transporting to the finest restaurants in Australian and around the world

At Newdegate you must visit the Hainsworth Museum, originally a corner store and tea room built in 1933 and now restored by the locals to a time-warp history piece.

Near Lake Grace we enjoyed a wine tasting at Walkers Hill Vineyard. A Chardonnay very dry and crisp with fruit tones. Their Shiraz is big and peppery. But the pick for me was their Drought Rose, plenty of fruit and a little tingle on the tongue.

On to Denmark. Next on our journey was Singlefile Wines, apparently named after the resident geese who would parade around the lake in s single file!

They gather fruit from across The Great Southern and create many award winning wines, including a very special Chardonnay.

Heading west along the cost we arrive at Walpole. This area is highly rated as a tourist destination, with so much to see and do.

We opted for a very special dinner cruise around the lake.

VERY Special: Why? Well in more than 45-years of travel, I have seen countless tour guides and presenters, but here we had Gary Muir! This man is a living legend; I have never experienced anyone with so much passion for his area. He had our group almost rolling around the deck with his comments and antics. I could fill this whole article with asides from his routine. But to do him and this wonderful lake and cruise justice you must not miss his daily cruise.

A short drive has us at The Valley of the Giants at Tingledale.

See giant ancient trees, learn about nature and then take the aerial adventure – The Tree Top Walk – A wheel chair accessible walk that slopes into the canopy of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park and Walpole Wilderness, offering spectacular views over densely forested hills. Descending to the boardwalks below to explore the Ancient Empire Walk, you’ll enter a grove of towering veteran tingle trees. /

All of the towns along the trail have their own uniqueness and you will find that the locals are fully supportive of the visiting travellers, many of them arriving with caravans and others in campervans.

Most towns have a free parking area with facilities for the visitors to overnight and freshen up. Also caravan parks, motels and hotels of good to high-end levels.

We tried a variety of accommodation – from farm stay style at Mary Farm Cottages – which were modern fully equipped cottages in a beautiful setting.

At Katanning we were spoilt with staying at the Premier Mill Hotel, which because of its uniqueness really has to be seen and experienced. A former flour mill that was almost due to be demolished has been restored to an intriguing perfection by Nigel Oakey.

Heading then To Walpole we Glamped at the Coalmine Caravan Park. Modern fully contained tents which although compact, have everything you would need for an overnighted of a week or two. During the night there was a heavy downpour and the sound of the rain on the canvas was the best sleeping tonic.

Last on our adventure was Albany, where the grain is sent to sea. It is also the home of the National Anzac Centre honouring the memory of our incredible Anzac’s as over 41,000 departed from Albany’s harbour, the last time most ever laid eyes on their home country.

Food and Beverage. One thing I did see often was the sign “The Best Coffee in Town” and I will have to admit all we tried were excellent.

Food wise we found that many locals have formed a type of co-op to source fresh produce which they then created some extremely delicious presentations, in quaint country restaurants.

Words and images: Michael Osborne

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