News

Silos are still a drawcard

By Alana Christensen

In the main street of Tungamah, a kookaburra and two brolgas overlook the town.

Painted on silos one year ago, they have played a key role in putting the town of more than 400 people, 25km south-west of Yarrawonga, on the map.

But for the residents of Tungamah, the increase in visitors is not just a tale of their own silos, but also of the many other towns that have helped to create northern Victoria’s silo art trail.

Owned by the Cooper family, the operational silos tower above the rest of the town and are visible from its heart.

The first silo to be painted in northern Victoria, the artwork by Broome artist Sobrane Simcock completed in February last year was quickly joined by artworks in nearby Goorambat and Devenish, and later Rochester.

Tungamah local Di Ford said it had been incredible to see the support the town had received.

‘‘It’s the silos right through that have driven it, from Tungamah to Goorambat and Devenish, they’ve brought a lot of people to town and at the end of the day that’s more money spent here in the pub and in the local shop,’’ she said.

‘‘I think naturally tourism is helping the town — because the drought sure isn’t.’’

The silos have even helped draw into town the most regular of visitors to the region.

Ms Ford said one gentleman she’d met had been travelling between Yarrawonga and Melbourne for many years, but had never stopped in Tungamuh until he heard about the silos.

It’s a common story around town according to Monica Brewer, who lives in nearby Wilby.

She said the silos had brought life to small communities, with car after car of visitors continually arriving to view the silos.

‘‘It’s just been fabulous for the small towns ... There’s people there all the time and each of the silos have got a story behind them, which is really fitting.’’

Kickstart Committee secretary Mandy Williams said it had been encouraging to see the effect the silo art had had on the town.

‘‘There’s people stopping daily for photos and there’s bus loads coming every week,’’ she said.

With the support from other communities and organisations around the region, the visitor numbers have also translated into donations to the town’s Kickstarter fund which gets reinvested in projects to improve the community.

The increase in visitors has seen the pub open in the mornings to offer coffee and cakes to visitors passing through, and an increase of people camping in the town.

Local Mark Brewer said the silo art was not just bringing people to their own town, but also encouraging them to visit other nearby towns.

‘‘We’ve even gone on a drive ourselves to see the silos,’’ he said.