MILDURA’S development board is seeking funding for a $1.1 million silo art project aimed at turning the Mallee Track into a national tourist attraction.
The 129km trail would feature artwork painted on 10 silos along the Mallee Highway from Ouyen to the South Australian border commemorating the nation’s military history.
Each silo would be accompanied by an interactive component explaining the significance of the artwork.
Underbool-based Mildura councillor Greg Brown said the project would boost struggling towns in the northern Mallee.
It has been designed to tap into the growing tourism market in nearby Sea Lake, where Lake Tyrrell has attracted Chinese visitors, as well as traffic along the Adelaide-Sydney route.
Tourism and economic development portfolio holder Simon Clemence said the project could help the region retain visitors for an extra day, generating an economic boost.
Military artist Ian Coate has already contributed design work for the project and could join a committee of both veterans and civilian artists that will be formed to shape the final project.
Afghanistan veteran Tyson Matheson described the project as an “honour” and said veterans from across Australia would visit the region to see the silo trail.
Mildura Regional Development chief executive Daryl Buckingham said it would take about two years for the Mallee Highway silo trail to be set up.
“One silo is not too hard to do and usually they’re in a site that isn’t used anymore, so you can pretty much organise something in six months and get it done,” he said.
“We have a couple of sites that are still being used so we’ve got some workarounds with how we access those and that may take some time.”
Mildura Council and Member for Mildura Peter Crisp have backed the project, with Mr Crisp seeking a meeting with state Veterans’ Affairs and Tourism Minister John Eren.
“In our smaller towns, little things matter a lot and if someone stops for a lunch of a cup of coffee, that keeps a job,” Mr Crisp said.
There are plans to approach the Federal Government for support, while Mildura Regional Development would welcome private sponsorships and community contributions.
Silo art has helped small farming towns elsewhere in the state with declining populations attract visitors.
The most notable example is at Brim, on the Henty Highway, where artist Guido van Helten painted his famous “farmer quartet” in 2015, inspiring further silo art across the country.
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