7 things to pop on your winter meander ‘to do’ list in the Wimmera

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Getting out and about, whether on foot, bicycle, the family car, or a caravan, is the great Aussie pasttime. 

With a bit of homework before you leave home, you will be able to work out where you’re going, how long it should take and … not get lost!

The best place to start is with the Wimmera Mail Times Out & About magazine, with its map, information centres, and general stories of some of the terrific places geared up for tourists to come visit here.

From alpacas to meerkats, arty silos to machinery field days, it's all happening this winter.

On the silo art trail

Join in the celebration of the rich heritage of Victoria's Wimmera/Mallee region with a journey along the 200km Silo Art Trail, soon to become the country's biggest outdoor gallery.

Horsham in the west of the Grampians is the perfect gateway to cruise from town to town and witness this innovative art project that sees renowned street artists from Australia and across the globe transform wheat silos into giant works of art.

For more than 100 years Victoria's towering wheat silos have defined the state's rural landscape. And when Brisbane street artist Guido Van Helten created his famous 'Farmer Quartet' on the Brim silos in 2015, it captured the imagination of the town and inspired The Silo Art Trail project.

Now, with the lighting up of the Brim Silos, you won’t have to miss seeing them if you are travelling at night. Be a tourist at any time, and stop to marvel at these beautiful artworks.

The trail brings together internationally recognised street artists – Julia Volchkova, Guido van Helten, Fintan Magee, Matt Adnate, Kaff-eine and Rone – and takes in six of Victoria's smallest towns. Murals are in Sheep Hills, Brim, Patchewollock, Lascelles, Rosebery and Rupanyup.

A unique art project that is still evolving, the Silo Art Trail has already revitalised many of these towns and brought thousands of new visitors to the region.

Hop. Skip. Waddle. It’s time to walk with the animals!

Take the kids to the Halls Gap Zoo this winter for a grand day out. Set in in the foothills of the majestic Grampians mountain ranges, this amazing place is home to 160 species of native and exotic mammals, reptiles and birds.

Halls Gap is known for being at one with nature; there’s always a kangaroo or too within cooee of your picnic.

Then there are wallabies, alligators, giraffes, reptiles, birds and more who call the zoo home.

But when you need a closer look and a friendly ‘getting to know you’ visit, whether it is spending some time with the gentle and stately giraffes, or reacquainting yourself with the awesomeness of Aussie favourites like our kangaroos, then the Halls Gap Zoo is the place to go.

Off-road Enduro thrills and the inevitable spills

Don’t miss the thrills and spills of off-road motor racing at the Rainbow Desert Enduro on August 10 to 12th.

This is the second year Rainbow has hosted the third round of the BFGoodrich CAMS Australian Off-road Championships.

Hindmarsh Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Greg Wood said: “The inaugural event was a huge success and a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our wonderful wide open spaces and friendly communities.

“We look forward to the Enduro continuing to grow in stature and becoming a “must visit” event for off road racers and off road fans!”

The track lap length is 80kms and is located in the township of Rainbow and the surrounding areas, some 400kms North-West of Melbourne.

Friends of Aradale help shine on a light on its past 

A sprawling complex of buildings with a rich past, Aradale offers a wealth of opportunities to explore, and a unique insight into the history of psychiatric care in Australia, and is now open for tours.

Ararat’s former psychiatric hospital, Aradale opened for patient care in 1867.

It was built to house Victoria’s ‘lunatic’ population, alongside the Kew and Beechworth centres.

At its peak of operations Aradale housed up to 1000 patients. It changed its names several times, ultimately becoming Aradale in the late 1950s, before closing as a psychiatric centre in 1998.

Featuring 63 buildings in a large complex, Aradale is imposing. Tours offer a two-hour immersion in the history of the site. As part of a tour, you can walk through the wards and see the areas used to house mentally ill patients during the life of Aradale. You will hear stories of the lives of some of the inmates and the staff and see where and how they lived, from the kitchens, tasked with feeding hundreds of inmates, to the administration offices, chapel, school rooms and nurses’ hostel.

Friends of J Ward, the volunteer organisation that runs the Aradale tours, was pleased to have tours resume earlier this year, after Aradale was closed for several months.

It’s all on deck at the Mallee Machinery Field Days

The latest and greatest in broad acre farming technology will be on show at this year’s Mallee Machinery Field Days.

There are over 8,500 people and over 350 exhibitors, plus over $25,000,000 worth of equipment and machinery, all heading north for this unique collection of exhibits.

Hosted by the Speed Lions Club, the event has grown since the first field days were held in 1979 in a local paddock, with 39 dealers exhibiting their products.

Speed Lions Club secretary Andrew McLean said today companies used the field day event to make announcements about innovations or new products.

“There’s generally a good crowd. We draw in people from every state to come along and have a look,” he said. “It’s got everything there that farmers need.”

Mark the Mallee Machinery Field Days in your diary for August 1 and 2, 2018. Gates open 8.30am-5pm.

Visit Woomelang

Located on the Sunraysia Highway, Woomelang was originally known as “Cronomby” after the natural waterhole that first attracted the early settlers to this area.

When the railway line arrived, the Government constructed earthen dams or “Tanks” (as they became known) to hold the water. These “tanks” are still there today, but have been cleaned out and linked together to create a popular free camping, fishing spot and picnic area. The Tough As Iron community project located at Cronomby Tanks has seen the installation of eight large iron artworks that explore the history and contemporary life of the Mallee people. Take the time to meander around the walking track and view the artworks created by Phil Rigg who is celebrated as one of the best iron sculptors in Australia. You can see more of Phil’s work at the Drovers Hut Gallery in the neighbouring township of Lascelles.

A good example for local ingenuity can be seen on the southern approach to the town where a shearing shed, constructed using compressed kerosene tins, stands as a monument to war time shortages. 

All in all, a wonderful round up of just some of the treasures The Wimmera has to offer.

Find something to surprise you

YOU never know what will be waiting in the wonderland of pre-loved goods on show at the Pickers Market Stawell.

From the outside, it is easy to underestimate the store. A shopfront on the Western Highway suggests a modest collection of quirky goods.

Like all good things, the Pickers Market Stawell is bigger on the inside. Once inside the store, there is a huge collection that just keeps drawing you deeper and deeper, opening out into two big sheds that have been converted into showrooms.

Owned by Peter and Anthea Perry, this September will mark three years since it opened its doors.

Peter, a keen collector for the last 13 years and a licenced secondhand dealer, decided to go a step further and open a store. As part of the business, floor space is rented out to other traders.

The collection, which draws bus loads of visitors from around the region, is constantly  changing and is always presented in ways to surprise and delight.

“Many of the items in store have unique and interesting stories attached to them,” Mrs Perry said.

“People bring things in that they know are valuable to someone, and they pass on the wonderful stories, allowing them to keep that story going, moving it forward with someone else.”

Among the items to have been on display were a fire truck (sold to a new home in Sydney), a 1926 Chevrolet, a WWII army field telephone and shop counters from a old country store north of Nhill.

This story 7 things to pop on your winter meander ‘to do’ list in the Wimmera first appeared on The Wimmera Mail-Times.