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Rupanyup, VIC

Small wheatbelt town which describes itself as 'A Town With A Pulse'

Rupanyup is a small wheatbelt town in an area that now specialises in growing lentils, chickpeas and beans. In 1998 it became famous as the town to challenge the quartet of big banks by opening the first branch of the Bendigo Bank Community bank. Today it is a quiet service town with a pub, a supermarket, a takeaway, bank, post office and newsagency, surrounded by bushland. Its fame attaches to it being the first (when you travel from Melbourne) of the silo art works. The Silo Art Trail is one of those inspired ideas which started as a one-off project and has grown into six (and possibly more) impressive and huge works of public art on a series of disused grain silos in the Wimmera Mallee area of Victoria. It is a journey of 190 km from Rupanyup in the south (it is a small town which lies to the east of Horsham) through Sheep Hills, Brim, Rosebery and Lascalles to Patchewollock in the north. The trip can be done in any direction. Each work of art stands by itself.

Location

Rupanyup is located 294 km north-west of Melbourne via Ballarat and Stawell. It is 139 metres above sea level.

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Origin of Name

No one is sure what Rupanyup means. It is believed that it was possibly a local Aboriginal word describing a tree near a place where locals camped beside a swamp. Other sources claim it meant 'a branch hanging over water'. It also may have come from the name of one of the local properties.

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Things to See and Do

Silo Art Trail
Some Tips:
* the entire journey can be done in a day. There is no reason, apart from personal pleasure, to linger longer than half an hour at any site. What you are looking at is basically huge images of faces and people which have been painted on the sides of concrete grain silos.
* it is sensible to do the journey starting in the morning. Most of the paintings are best lit during the day. This will never be perfect. The images at Rupanyup are at a different angle to the rest of the silos and the images at Lascelles (of local farming couple – Geoff and Merrilyn Horman) can never be photographed together because they are on opposite sides of two of the grain silos.
* they are all ideal for photographers – impressive large grain silos on a flat landscape. Only tips: a wide angle lens is helpful (particularly if you want to avoid power lines at Rupanyup) and some Photoshop “transform” to correct the inevitable “lean” produced by photographing huge objects from ground level.
* There is a really excellent publication – Silo Art Trail Visitor Map – which can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centres either in Horsham or Warracknabeal. The following information has been taken from that publication.

Rupanyup Silo Art
Located on Gibson Street (easily seen to the east of the Wimmera Highway at the northern end of the main street) this is one of the simplest of the murals. It was created by Russian mural artist, Julia Volchkova, and depicts two local sporting team members – Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann. It was completed in 2017 and is located on two Australian Grain Export steel grain silos. A singular difference - all the other art works are on cement silos which date from 1938-1939.

Woods Farming and Heritage Museum
Located at 109 Wimmera Highway the Woods' Farming and Heritage Museum is open by appointment. Tel: 0427 159 154. It has an extensive display of farming and household memorabilia as well as displays of tractors and tools. The display of sewing machines is particularly impressive.

Street Art
To complement the impressive Silo Art, the town employed Melbourne street artist Georgia Goodie and the results can be seen in the Beer Garden of the Rup Pub and on the corner of Cromie and Wood Street where there is an amusing image of a fireman.

Jack's Track
A pleasant 3.4 km walk through the landscape surrounding the town, Jack's Track starts near the Silo Art and heads north between Frayne Avenue and the Stawell-Warracknabeal Road.

Rupanyup Memorial Park
Located on the Wimmera Highway just north of the Silo Art, the Memorial Park edges the Jack Emmett Billabong and has powered caravan sites as well as pleasant picnic locations and an unusual Battle of Beersheba memorial.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Sheep Hills
There is a sign off the Stawell-Warracknabeal Road to what is the most photographed and most admired of all the murals. It was painted by Melbourne-based artist Adnate’s (that’s his name) and I suspect that part of its appeal is that it is striking - it is in brilliant and bright colours. Historically Adnate has often painted indigenous people and when commissioned to paint these silos, which were built in 1939, he developed a relationship with the local Barengi Gadjin Land Council and, in 2016, he painted these huge images of Wergaia Elder (Uncle Ron Marks), a Wotjobaluk Elder (Aunty Regina Hood) and two children – Savannah Marks and Curtly McDonald. In the photographs I have added some people to give an idea of the scale of the work which took only four weeks to complete.

Brim
In 2015 van Helten painted 30-metre high portraits of four farmers on the disused Brim silos. They were the first and started the trend which led to the others being painted. The disused silos had been built in 1939 by GrainCorp. 
Van Helten, a Brisbane artist, used a super cherrypicker for three weeks in 2016 to create the work using spray paint and acrylic house paint. He has worked for up to 10 hours a day in temperatures which reached 40°C and strong winds to produce the mural. 
Upon seeing the result, the Brim Active Community Group president Shane Wardle, whose family has farmed in the town since 1894, reckoned it was the biggest thing to ever happen in the town of about 100 people and a welcome boost at a time of drought and shrinking population. 
The project came to Brim by accident. Van Helten has done similar giant portraits in Ukraine, Norway, Italy, Denmark and Iceland, and he asked street artist management company Juddy Roller to find him silos in Victoria.
GrainCorp came up with a disused silos at Brim, which dominate the town facing west over the highway. Funds were provided by Regional Arts Victoria and the Yarriambiack Shire Council, paint was donated by Taubmans and Loop Paints, and the local caravan park and pub provided free accommodation and meals.
Van Helten took photos of locals and mapped the work on computer, but a challenge was to accommodate the silos' curves.
Shane Wardle said the identities of the three men and one woman depicted were known but had not been publicised. "It's about the art," he said. "It's trying to capture the spirit of the local area. And he's done a great job." The amusing thing was that it started a trend. 

Rosebery
Located beside the Henty Highway in this tiny settlement, the Rosebery mural was painted by Melbourne artist, Kaff-eine (a woman), who came to the Wimmera Mallee with fellow artist Rone who was painting the silos at Lascelles. There are two images – one of a young female farmer in a work shirt, jeans and cowboy boots and one of a horseman in an Akubra hat, Bogs boots and an oilskin vest, with his horse. The two images are symbols of the local people who work on the farms in the surrounding area.

Lascelles
Located off Sunraysia Highway, and easily seen from the road, are these two images of local farming couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman. Painted by Melbourne artist, Rone (a man), it was completed in 2017 using the GrainCorp silos which had been built in 1939. They are intentionally low key (which is typical of Rone’s work). He added water to the paint to give both images a ghostly, slightly transparent and monochrome effect.

Patchewollock
Completed in late 2016 I worry about this mural. It appears to be peeling and chipping but this was intentional. It was painted by Fintan Magee, a Brisbane artist, who, after meeting a number of locals, decided that he wanted to paint a local sheep and grain farmer, Nick ‘Noodle’ Hulland. Magee chose Hulland not only because he saw him as a symbol of the local farmer (sun-bleached hair, flannelette shirt) but, very conveniently, because he was tall and lean, a frame that would easily fit on the 35-metre grain silo.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was home to people from the Wergaia and Wotjobaluk Aboriginal groups.

* The first European settlers in the district established the Warranooke pastoral run in 1845.

* Closer settlement began in the 1870s.

* In 1873 the Rupanyup townsite was surveyed. It was called Karkarooc. About a mile north of the settlement a flour mill was built.

* A Presbyterian church was consecrated in 1874.

* In 1875 the settlement was changed to Lallat. That year saw a school open and a post office open as Karkarooc.

* In 1876 the government finally settled on Rupanyup.

* By 1877 the area was administered by the Dunmunkle Shire. The shire offices were in Rupanyup.

* A local newspaper was published in 1878.

* A railway from Lubeck was completed to Rupanyup in 1887. That year saw a second flour mill open.

* By the mid-1880s the town had three hotels.

* In 1909 John Monash, the famous World War I soldier, designed three concrete silos for the town.

* A private hospital was built in the town in 1927.

* The flour mill was closed in 1961.

* The railway line was closed in 1983.

* A swimming pool was built in 1986.

* The hospital became a nursing home in 1988.

* The first Bendigo Bank was opened in the town in 1999.

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Visitor Information

Warracknabeal Tourist Information Centre is located at 119 Scott Street, Warracknabeal. It is open seven days from 9.00am - 5.00pm, tel: (03) 5398 1632.
Horsham and Grampians Visitor Information Centre is located at 20 O'Callaghan's Parade, Horsham, tel: (03) 5382 1832 or 1800 633 218.

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Useful Websites

There is a detailed list of the town's services at https://yarriambiack.vic.gov.au/about-yarriambiack-council/community-directory/rupanyup. There is a simple local website. Check out http://www.rupanyup.com.au.

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