Country News

Town treasure is happy for Goorambat to be on the map

By Country News

Alan Saunders works four days a week but doesn't get paid.

He sits under a viewing shelter, looking up with admiration at the paintings that decorate the Goorambat silos.

People who drive past are surprised by the scale of the paintings.

Cars pull over to take a photograph and it's here where visitors meet Alan.

The paintings, created by Melbourne artist Jimmy Dvate, on the giant grain silos have kept his attention since the day they were painted.

Alan volunteers his time to give back to the community that raised him.

He always wears a smile on his face as he greets visitors who have stopped to see the silos.

“I meet a lot of people, that's what I'm here for,'' he says.

"I'm more like an information centre.”

His daily routine is to get up, open the public bathrooms in the town hall and set up his gift shop on a foldout table.

Alan gets a thrill out of meeting new people and the silo art gives him the perfect opportunity.

Raising funds to help his small town thrive, Alan sells a selection of gifts displaying the stunning artworks found on the Goorambat silos.

His favourite is the Clydesdales, painted in June this year.

From mugs, bags and magnets, to tea towels, aprons, photocards and even stubbie holders, Alan's covered all the bases.

A mug with the artwork printed on it sells for $10, and the tote bags at $17 are popular.

“I felt the need to raise funds; for instance, we don't have a public toilet,” Alan says.

He hopes to put Goorambat on the map, with all the proceeds directed straight back into the community for essential projects including signage and shelters.

Alan believes the future of small towns lays within the tourism industry.

“It's a fad that's just started and it's going to be here a long time,” he says.

With the Goorambat school closing two years ago, and businesses leaving, he says silo art has been a real boost for the small town.

Since the silo art emerged, a trail of tourists enter Goorambat every day.

“It's the best thing that's happened to this town in my lifetime,” he says.

Alan has lived in the town for 88 years and is full of facts about Goorambat.

He is carrying on the family tradition as the fourth generation at his sheep and wheat farm. His great-grandfather, William Saunders, bought the farm in 1874, his grandfather took over in 1900, the baton was passed to his father in 1926 and now it's Alan's turn.

Alan says many family-run farms have been sold over time.

“You can count the number of farms on one hand that haven't been sold,” he says.

Alan wants to continue to promote and protect the treasure of the small town he loves.

“As long as I live, I'll do it as long as I can without any health issues,” he says.