Llewellyn Schilling always wanted his old grain silo to be turned into something special — he just didn’t expect it to happen during his lifetime.
- Unique new silo art in the pipeline for the southern Mallee town of Rainbow
- Art to feature inside the silo instead of outside, with hopes it will bring more tourism to the town
- Land owner Llewellyn Schilling, who grew up near the silos, hopes to see the project come to life
The 85-year-old returned to his hometown of Rainbow in retirement eight years ago and now lives in a caravan alongside the large, disused grain silo in town.
“The time came to retire and I thought the silo was a good place to put all my junk that I’ve acquired over the years,” he said.
“I had already bought the silo about 50 years ago. It was quite a big area of land behind where we used to live [growing up], and it was our playground.
“Then, of course, it sat there for many years unused, and it looked a bit rejected and dejected, and every time I came up to the town … I always thought, ‘One day I’d like to see if I could make it look a bit better’.”
Mr Schilling never thought he’d see this dream come to fruition, but the wheels are now in motion to turn his property into a “game-changing” addition to the silo art trail.
“I’m getting on a bit nowadays … so I had in mind to leave the silo itself to the town in my will,” he said.
“But my sons said that’s the wrong way to go about it.
In 2016, silos at the Wimmera town of Brim were transformed with an iconic mural featuring several local identities, kick-starting what is now known as the Silo Art Trail.
‘Game-changing’ twist on silo art
It sparked dozens of similar artworks across the Wimmera and Mallee, but the new art planned for Mr Schilling’s silos are for the first time trying a “game-changing” new concept.
The Hindmarsh Shire Council wants the silos to involve an internal twist — showcasing art inside the silo, rather than painting the outside.
There are also plans for a staircase and a lift, leading to a viewing platform atop the silo, allowing visitors a spectacular view of the southern Mallee.
“We wanted something different that hasn’t been done anywhere in the region before,” Hindmarsh Shire Council mayor Ron Ismay said.
“I think it will be a game-changer.
“Hopefully, this will encourage people to stick around for a bit longer.”
The Hindmarsh Shire Council recently committed the majority of $2.1 million toward the project, part of the $4.9 million they received as part of the state government’s $510 million spend to restart Victoria’s visitor economy.
Cr Ismay said council was now searching for an engineering consultant and expected the project to take “at least 12 to 18 months”.
Council and Mr Schilling are also negotiating how the land will be transferred to council, but Mr Schilling suggested a long-term lease is the most likely outcome.
“It doesn’t worry me, as long as they’ve got it — in 99 years, nobody is going to care who’s got it or how,” he said.
Helping a small town thrive
Mr Schilling hopes the unique concept can encourage people to take the 30-minute detour off the main highway to visit Rainbow.
He said it could contribute to what he sees as a resurgence in the town of 683 people.
“People like to stay on the main routes but, if we can attract them … there are some interesting parts out here to look at,” he said.
“We do have some really interesting businesses here. The bakery here … is fairly well known for its good produce. There’s a first-class supermarket, a first-class butcher and we have a new brewery opening up here, too.
“It seems to me as if the town is going ahead rather than declining, as most of the little towns are experiencing. So it could be all good.”