EVER since Brim’s decommissioned grain silos were painted with larger-than-life murals, the Wimmera community has continued to benefit from the region’s famous Silo Art Trail.
The trail currently comprises of six sites across the Yarriambiack shire, at Brim, Sheep Hills, Rupanyup, Patchewollock, Rosebery and Lascelles.
Wimmera Mallee Tourism chairwoman Helen Ballentine said tourist numbers had grown steadily in the region since the trail’s genesis.
“There are reliable shire caravan park statistics, visitor books and numbers from road counters, and records of other tourism products all recording significant increases,” Ms Ballentine said.
“If you look at the Grampians region statistics from 2015 until now, there has been a huge increase in visitors since the silos commenced. I believe the whole region is benefiting in a collaborated effort.
“The artwork on the silos is idolised by many; we’ve had so many rave reviews.”
The Silo Art Trail Facebook page has more than 25,000 likes.
The Silo Art Trail Part Two plan suggested an expansion into the West Wimmera and Hindmarsh shires, with Albacultya earmarked as the next possible site.
A Pick My Project application was submitted by Hindmarsh Shire Council to fund the project, with an estimated cost of $120,000. Applications were also made to bring silo art to Goroke, Serviceton and Kaniva.
“Adding more silos would be great for our neighbouring shires as it would also slow down the express type viewing of the silos,” Ms Ballentine said.
“It would make people think about staying overnight to see the next group of silos and there could be other interacting tours to connect as well and would encourage more development.
“The goal is to expand our international attraction here in the Wimmera Mallee. More accommodation is developing through bed and breakfast options as well as cabins.”
Ms Ballentine said the Silo Art Trail was only one reason why tourists should visit the region.
“The extra numbers on our roads are obvious, but we need more promotion for the specific Wimmera Mallee to ensure it is on the map,” she said.
“Our other strengths – camping facilities, big skies, wide open land and water attractions – need to be acknowledged along with some interesting architecture and museums.”
Related: Brim silos a must see attraction
As the first town to get a taste of the Silo Art Trail, Brim’s tourism numbers are continuing to grow.
Brim Lions Club runs the town’s caravan park at Redda’s Park, which has a number of powered and non-powered sites.
Club secretary and park co-ordinator Mat Crisp said it was great to see tourist interest in the region grow thanks to the trail.
“Ever since the silo trail started, the park has seen a steady number of campers. We would average about three campers per night,” he said.
“Then in the busy times, during holidays, there’s no powered sites left at all.
“It’s been fantastic and the town is very supportive of the trail. We were the first one, so that does make us unique and it’s something to be proud of.”
Following an influx of tourists to the town, Brim’s Commercial Hotel shut down for the second time in less than a decade.
“It was a big blow for the community. It’s what the town really didn’t need at that stage,” he said.
“Because the hotel did close a few years ago and then reopen, everything got back to normal. To see it shut down again in the middle of this tourism boom was a bit disappointing. As far as I know, the owners will take a genuine offer for it.”
He said proposed plans to expand the project would benefit all the towns already on the trail route.
“It’s a good thing, but then there’s a risk that there’s too much of a good thing,” he said.
“I give credit to our guys who did the groundwork to get it up-and-running for Brim to be the first one.”
Upgrades are planned for Redda’s Park to keep up with demand.
“Unfortunately we are a very small town and we can’t man it 24/7,” he said.
“At the moment we are in the process of applying for grants. We need a whole new septic system because the old one is too small for the number of campers we have. We have to make everything bigger.
“We’re also getting some solar panels put on because our last power bill was $3500. So it’s getting very well used.”
Rupanyup’s silo art was completed by street artist Julia Volchkova in April 2017. The mural features images of Rupanyup netballer Ebony Baker and footballer Jordan Weidemann.
In July, the Rupanyup community got one step closer to establishing a retail hub on its main street when the state government announced it would allocated $500,000 worth of funding towards the project.
Enterprise Rupanyup has worked on the project to create a plaza on Cromie Street since 2013 – five years before the town received its now famous silo art.
Chairman Malcolm Uhe said the town had seen a significant increase in visitor numbers since then.
“The tourism numbers have increased dramatically; it has been a real boom for the town,” he said.
“E-Rup’s main focus is revitalising the town’s retail precinct for the residents of the area, but the popularity of the Silo Art Trail will just be another opportunity for our shops to receive patronage.”
Mr Uhe said the project was still in the early planning stages, with the group consulting with council.
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