This Unique Road Trip Of Australia's Largest Gallery Shows Silos Transformed Into Art

Humans have been painting on walls since we were living in caves and dodging Saber-toothed tigers, but it only started gaining wider recognition as a legitimate art form in the 1960s and 1970s. In the decades since, superstars of the street art scene like Jean Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, and Banksy have further propelled it into the cultural mainstream. Nowadays, taking a street murals walk has become a hip tourist activity and many cities around the world boast a vibrant scene. Yet, while we usually think of street art as an urban phenomenon, artists in Australia have taken their spray cans out of the city and started working on a grander scale across the Outback. Welcome to the country-wide Silo Art Trail, and you'll definitely need a car for this one.

Like a lot of street art, the Silo Art Trail is motivated by social concerns, albeit ones that affect residents in rural communities rather than the traditional urban backdrop. By 2015 when the project began, many small towns in the Australian Outback were at risk of dying out due to drought and people leaving for a life elsewhere. The goal is ambitious but simple: to get people into their cars to enjoy some art, driving much-needed tourist dollars into ailing communities in the process. Since British muralist Phlegm teamed up with American artist Hense to paint four huge grain silos in Northam, Western Australia, the vast outdoor gallery has spread across four other states, covering around 5,000 miles.

Where to begin with the Silo Art Trail

Promoted as "Australia's Ultimate Road Trip," completing the full Silo Art Trail is a daunting prospect. Should you decide to go the whole hog, the natural starting point is Northam, Western Australia, since it was the town that helped kick off the entire project. It's also one of the less remote destinations on the trail, situated just over an hour's drive from Perth. The end of the trail is in Three Moon, Queensland, some 2,693 miles away on the other side of the nation-continent, where artists The Zookeeper and DRAPL have paid homage to the local indigenous legend that gave the town its name. 

That's a lot of driving, so, understandably, many visitors choose to concentrate on one particular section of the Silo Art Trail. One of the most popular is located in the Wimmera Mallee region in northwest Victoria with 23 huge murals to seek out and enjoy in small towns that otherwise might never have crossed your radar. The general consensus is that the best place to start your road trip is in Rupanyup, a little over a three-hour drive from central Melbourne. There you will find portraits of two young local sports stars painted by Russian artist Julia Volchkova and takeaway eats at Boydy's Cafe if you want to put a little cash into the community.

Other highlights on Victoria's Silo Art Trail

With so many murals to visit on the Victoria leg of the Silo Art Trail, it is worth highlighting a few in particular. The tiny town of Brim has lost hotels and its school since the turn of the century but now attracts visitors thanks to Brisbane artist Guido van Helten's tribute to the local farming community. In Walpeup, Julian Clavijo and Camilo Delgado beautifully commemorate local lad Harold Thomas Bell who lied about his age to join the Light Horse Regiment in WWI and was killed in action. Sheep Hills, which only has a population of 27, features stunning artwork by Adnate depicting the faces of young and old Indigenous people set against starry skies. 

Which silos you choose to visit depends very much on your personal preferences and itinerary. If you are having trouble deciding on individual artworks, you can download a helpful map that provides a route to take in all the silos on the Victoria trail. The entire trip covers around 120 miles and can be comfortably achieved in one day, allowing for enough time to contemplate the art, take some snaps, and get some refreshments along the way at local businesses. A visit to the Outback is a trip you should plan at least a year in advance, but if you are based in the United States and can't wait that long, a similar American Silo Art movement on home soil to check out.