Massive silo mural could help put Monto on map for tourists
IN 2015, the tiny west Victorian town of Brim, population 100, was put on the map when Brisbane artist Guido van Helten painted an enormous mural on defunct silos.
Since then, silo art has become an important driver of tourism for regional towns, given a boost in 2018 when two travellers, Eric and Annette Green, started the Australian Silo Art Trail Facebook page, which has nearly 29,000 likes, and website.
Now, Monto wants a slice of the action.
While Monto is already on the website, courtesy of its water tank art on Burke St painted by artists Karen Gross and Debbie Waite, the Monto Magic Tourism Action Group wants to make the biggest statement possible, by commissioning an artist to paint a mural on the Monto Grains Co-operative Association silos at Three Moon.
Monto's Mary Sharp has been commissioned by the group to write a grant application to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to get the project off the ground.
Ms Sharp said the application was "90 per cent complete”.
She said the idea originally came from group members who had seen silo murals while travelling.
"We want this to be the catalyst that brings people here and makes us a must-see destination,” Ms Sharp said.
"The Burnett Highway is a major highway, a preferred highway for many travellers.
"It's much more leisurely than the Bruce Highway - you meander through little towns and we're trying to get them to stop for a few days, so we can show off more that we have to offer.
"Tourism is something that doesn't seem to rely on commodity prices or weather.
"It's the cream on the cake that allows communities to survive.”
Ms Sharp said the group wanted to particularly tap into the grey nomad market of travellers and the "revival” of younger families who "look to go off the beaten track” in caravans, rather than staying in motels.
The idea has been stewing for about 12 months, Ms Sharp said, but it has been in the past two-three months the project has started to gain momentum.
As part of her fact-finding for the application, Ms Sharp said she has been in touch with shires right across Australia which host a silo mural and said they had been "very enthusiastic (and) thrilled by the outcomes”.
"Communities which have been devastated by fires and droughts have found that tourists are making the effort to go there for a few days,” she said.
"Little businesses on the main street have been coming back, remaining or even growing.”
The group envisages a miniature trail within the Monto district: starting at the bunyip statue at Mulgildie, tourists would pass the silo mural, arrive at the Lister St Art Walk, where there would be information about the silo mural at the information centre, and finish at the water tank artwork on Bourke St.
Ms Sharp said a survey distributed through the Monto district on the project received "overwhelming support”.
What the mural would depict is still up in the air, with mixed responses from the survey.
Agricultural scenes and the Three Moon legend are favoured, although Ms Sharp emphasised that Monto's silo mural needed to be "something different” and that agricultural scenes were already popular among the trail.
"Why would you come all the way to see the silos if they're not unique? You want them to say, 'Wow, we haven't seen that before',” Ms Sharp said.
She has been in close contact with an artist experienced in painting large-scale murals to discuss the finer points of the project.
"The artist might come up with a concept bringing it all together - agriculture, Cania Gorge and the Three Moon legend,” she said.
Ms Sharp said the grains association had given provisional approval, subject to finance and design.