Wherever you go in the wheat belt areas of Australia (mostly towards the south) then you will see grain silos towering over the surrounding landscapes. These concrete behemoths were forever present in my childhood. They were always the first thing we would see of our destination or hometown when travelling, and excited chants of “I can see the silos” rang through the car. But while we might have been excited to see them as kids, in reality they really are a bit ugly. That’s all changing now though, as towns realise they are a huge blank canvas just waiting to become a magnet to the passing traffic on the highway. Now they are the backbone of the silo art trail South Australia.
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- 1 Silo Art Trail South Australia
- 2 Water Tower Art in South Australia
- 3 Other Silo Attractions
- 4 South Australia Silo Art Trail Map
Silo Art Trail South Australia
At the time of writing there are currently ten sets of painted silos in South Australia. I know of one more currently in the planning stages – Kingscote. I am not sure of the time frame, but it was hopefully to be done before the end of 2021. I am sure more will pop up in the next few years though. I will keep you updated on the SA silo art locations as soon as I can get to them to visit.
The silos at Coonalpyn were the first set of painted silos SA had. Brisbane artist Guido van Helten painted five of the local children onto the silos in 2017. They took 200 cans of spray paint and about a month to paint. Located on the Dukes Highway, the direct route between Adelaide and Melbourne, the silos are now a great drawcard. If you are leaving from Adelaide, it’s a perfect stopping place to stretch the legs, grab a coffee and admire the artwork, two hours into the journey. To see all of the children, take a walk around the silos, but take care, as they are still operational and at certain times of the year will have a lot of truck traffic as they drop off grain.
This one is probably my favourite of all the silo art in South Australia, and it’s definitely the one I visit the most as I pass through Wirrabara regularly. It’s not easy to see though, you will have to look out for it and drive off the main street to find it.
This great painting of a woodcutter and a red-capped robin is by a prolific street artist called Smug. It was completed in October 2018. The 28m high mural was the first Smug had done on a silo, and took him about three weeks to complete. The trees in the background depict the nearby Wirrabara Forest, where the woodcutters used to work and the native birds live.
The Waikerie silos are the first to have been painted on both sides. There are two distinct structures and they can be viewed not only from the town, but also from the nearby Murray River. The silo art is themed “Healthy River, Healthy Community” to show how essential the river is to the lives of everyone in this area.
Two artists were chosen for this project, Jimmy Dvate and Garry Duncan, who did a silo each, with Jimmy’s silo focussing on the local plants and animals while Garry has created a quirky river landscape. Painting the silos took 16 weeks and 500 litres of paint were used, and they were finally completed in March 2019.
Love street art? How about silo art? Here are all the locations in South Australia to see this beautiful artwork #siloart #southaustralia #siloarttrail
Kimba claims to be the halfway point across Australia on Highway One, and I have to admit, while I’ve driven through it many times I don’t remember ever stopping – until I stopped to look at the silo art. We then had a bit more of a look around the town, and there are a few things here in Kimba worth seeing. I would even suggest using Kimba as a place to overnight when travelling in the area. This is what having a huge piece of artwork on the silos, and a place on silo art trail SA, is doing for these country towns that are just another stop on the highway.
The Kimba silos were painted in late 2017 by Melbourne artist Cam Scale. This amazing piece of artwork is 60 metres long and 25 metres wide, making it one of the biggest silo art projects in Australia. It’s depicting a young girl in a wheat field, like so many surrounding the town, and took three weeks to paint.
The Kimba silos are also great to view if you are passing through at night time as they are permanently lit up for travellers to enjoy at any time of the day.
Tumby Bay started its foray into becoming an art town in 2018. The Tumby Bay silo art were painted by Argentinian artist Martin Ron, who spent some time in the town taking photos of locals, activities and attractions before deciding on these two local boys jumping off the Tumby Bay jetty into the sea.
At the same time the silos were being painted, the first Colour Tumby Street Art Festival was taking place. Eight walls across the town were decorated with murals. The festival has become an annual event, with many more walls now festooned with amazing street art murals that make driving into Tumby Bay as essential part of a road trip in the area.
The Cowell silo art features local legend Lionel Deer, pictured with his camel Diamantina, who have been regulars at the local Christmas parade for over thirty years. Also on the silos is one of the ringneck parrots that are found in the area.
Painted by Byron Bay artist Austin “Nitsua” Moncrieff, the silos were completed in September 2019. Nitsua was assisted by Michael ‘Schmick’ Motteram-Smith, who has also done a mural of his own at the nearby sporting complex.
The Karoonda silos feature the local mallee trees that this area is known for, combined with sheep and a working kelpie, perfect representations of the industry in the area. Painted my Heesco, these silos took a little over a month to paint and were completed in July 2019. These were Heesco’s third set of silos, with previous work done interstate at Grenfell and Weethalle.
In an Australian first, as the sun sets these silos turn into another type of canvas. An ever-changing light show is projected onto them. With local photographs, Australian artworks and other exhibitions, each time a traveller passes through there will be something different.
Farrell Flat is one of those tiny, blink-and-you-miss-it towns. Even though I have lived in South Australia pretty much my whole life, for a little while less than 100km away, I had never heard of Farrell Flat until I saw that it had some new silo art. Co-incidentally I was in the area the day after it was completed so made a point to stop in. According to the local publican, we were the first visitors to come into the town to check it out, aside from those people who were promoting it! Little did they know…
Completed in November 2020, the Farrell Flat silo art was painted by Jarrod Soden, and the artwork reflects the history as a stop on the former Peterborough rail line.
The Paringa silos were added to the SA silo trail in February 2021. Paringa is located just minutes away from Renmark, and these silos sit right beside the main highway from Adelaide to Sydney. Painted by Jack Fran, the silos have four profiles of local people who have had an impact on the community. The profiles are filled with images that exemplify more of the local area – mostly focused on life on the Murray River that flows through the town.
Floodlights have now been added lighting up the silos after dark, so they stand out to anyone driving along the highway.
The town of Owen is another silo art SA location. The small town on the Adelaide Plains completed their silo art just in time for the Anzac Day celebrations in 2021, the end of a process that began in 2018 when the town voted to paint they silos. Owen is only 85km from the Adelaide City centre, so this silo art is the closest yet.
The artwork on the silos is a tribute to life in around the time of Gallipoli. One scene is of farming life at Owen, the other is a scene at Gallipoli, featuring the same farmer. Robert Hannaford, a local artist from the nearby town of Riverton came up with the design, and Cam Scale spent six weeks bringing that artwork to life on the silos. The Owen silo art has been given the name of “Wheat Bags to Sand Bags”.
The silo art in Eudunda was completed in September 2021. This was a huge undertaking, with artwork done by Sam Brooks. The silos show two different children sharing stories. On the left is a book from Colin Thiele, a local author well known for books such as Sun on the Stubble. (Storm Boy is another well known book). on the right is an Aboriginal boy telling a local Ngadjeri story. A local Ngadjeri elder, Quentin Aegius, helped ensure the imagery and message was accurate. You can see a really great explanation from the artist here.
While it wasn’t finished during my visit, there are plans to create a picnic/BBQ area that doubles as the viewing area, and the nearby railway station is also being restored, so there could be some good things coming to Eudunda.
Water Tower Art in South Australia
Some towns don’t have silos, or perhaps they just prefer to paint something slightly smaller, so water towers are becoming another popular town canvas for some amazing artworks.
The Kadina water tower has a lovely mural of a young girl holding a piece of copper and a sheaf of wheat, both in recognition of the industry in the area. The reverse side of the tower is decorated with a train, since it is located opposite to the former train station. The mural was painted by Resio and completed in 2018.
The Snowtown water tower is a tribute to John Hansen, a local who has been a CFS volunteer for the last 25 years. The reverse side of the tower includes more local volunteers and twon sports stars. It was painted by artist Vans the Omega in 2018 in the hopes of starting a more positive reputation for the town. Snowtown has been unfairly tarnished through no fault of it’s own by what became known as the Bodies in the Barrels murders. Call past to see the water tower and the nearby “Big Blade” – a blade from one of the nearby windmills – and grab a coffee and a snack to help get this town back on it’s feet.
This is the first water tower you will come to on the SYP Water Tower/Tank Mural Trail if visiting the Yorke Peninsula from Adelaide. It’s also the hardest one to view as it sits out in the middle of a paddock with no access for the public. It was completed in May 2021 after 24 days of painting by Refuz, assisted by Jasmine Crisp.
Water tower number two is located in Stansbury. The good thing about these towers is that they are visible from the main highway so they are all easy to find. Stansbury’s water tower was painted by Mike Makatron and assisted by Conrad Bizjak in just 13 days. It was completed in May 2021.
This tower has a fabulous pelican on the back of it, but to photograph it you will need a drone. It was just too windy during my visit to attempt it.
Coobowie does not have a water tower, but they didn’t want to be left out (I’m presuming!) so they nominated a water tank to be painted instead. Since it doesn’t stick up above the landscape it’s a little harder to spot. You will find it on Gumbowie Road. The tank features many native birds, and was painted by Creature Creature (Chanel Tang & Ambrose Rehorek) and Jason Parker. It was completed in 16 days in February 2021. The connecting shed is also painted with a rodeo theme.
The Edithburgh water tower seems to be the “poster child” for this project as this is the one I often see popping up on social media. I have to admit it is particularly pretty with it’s leafy sea dragon and other marine critters. It was the first tower painted by Mike Makatron, this time assisted by Conrad Bizjak and Dylan Butler. It was completed in March 2021 after 15 days of painting.
The final water tower in Yorketown has more of an agricultural theme, with wheat and canola along with a RFDS plane. This one took the longest to complete, 37 days, but it was done by a single artist, Jasmine Crisp and painted entirely by brush. The mural was completed in March 2021.
Other Silo Attractions
The country towns in South Australia are nothing if not resilient and inventive. When times are hard – as they invariably are in small farming communities now – they come up with some great ideas to attract visitors. I couldn’t leave this post without mentioning another great way to use what they have.
Instead of painting the silos, the township of Quorn has taken a leave out of Karoonda’s book and in April 2020 started a nightly light show. As the sun goes down the silos come to light. While the displays are intended to change over time, during my visit they consisted of photos of some of the local trains of the Pichi Richi Railway, photos of the Flinders Ranges and surrounding area, photos of native flora and fauna, local events, and artwork done by local artists. The show lasts for about three hours after sunset.
After a successful temporary show in 2019, Wallaroo have made their light show a permanent feature of the town. Each evening, just as the sun goes down, the light show begins. It’s a thirty minute show, consisting of a welcome from the local Narungga people, some Copper Coast tourism information, and art and photos from the local community. Even some of the local school children are involved and have their art displayed.
The light show is expected to change every few months to keep things fresh, and it is best watched in conjunction with music to be streamed from the website here. If you miss the beginning, don’t worry, the show does loop around and continues for a few hours each evening.
South Australia Silo Art Trail Map
The below map shows all the locations discussed above. While there is not an official South Australian silo art trail, it is easy to put together a road trip to see them all – and many other great things from this silo art South Australia map.
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.