The creativity in many of our regional and rural towns has opened up new attractions for road trippers. Here are a few to look out for the next time you go bush.
Patchewollock, Weethalle, Coonalpyn and Thallon are dots on the map you might have once blinked and missed, but now they’re becoming destinations in their own right thanks to art projects rejuvenating grain silos. Bringing a taste of street art to the country, the trend has been credited with bringing hope — and importantly, tourists — to rural communities around Australia. Victoria’s 200km Wimmera-Mallee Silo Art Trail features six art projects in six towns from Rupanyup to Patchewollock. Meanwhile, in Western Australia, the PUBLIC Silo Trail already includes four sites (Northam, Ravensthorpe, Merredin and Katanning). Similar silo artworks have also popped up in South Australia (Coonalpyn, Kimba), Queensland (Thallon) and NSW (Weethalle). Here are a few to visit.
This six metre Nyngan landmark wasn’t always popular with locals when it was first erected. But since the Shire of Bogan in western NSW decided to celebrate the mullet-loving, singlet-wearing Aussie character of the same name, the community — and passers-by — have come to embrace it. Not only is the town cashing in on sales of stubby holders and caps featuring the Big Bogan, there’s also plans to add to the family — two life-size sculptures, dubbed “baby bogans”, are set to be built at the town’s tourist information centre later this year.
For those who love their Uggs, a slight detour to Thornton in NSW to get a snap with the biggest of boots, is a must. The boots each weigh 600 kg and are 13 times the size of a women’s size eight boot. The fibreglass landmark is located at Mortels Sheepskin Factory at Thornton, inland from Newcastle and just off the Pacific Highway, M1 and New England Highway.
It’s obviously nowhere near as old as its ancient Egyptian relatives, but this modern masterpiece can be seen from the New England Highway at Ballandean in Queensland’s Granite Belt wine district. Unlike most of Australia’s Big Things, it wasn’t really intended to attract tourists. Instead, the incentive for building it was an excess of granite (about 7500 tonnes) that kept getting in the way as the owners were trying to plant their vineyard. It’s on private property, and while you can’t climb it and there’s no gift shop, the 17m-high structure has become a local landmark and popular subject for passing photographers.
The Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple is an unmistakable landmark for Fleurieu-bound passers-by. One reason is the 18m-tall statue of the goddess of mercy that stands out for all to see. It is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, complementing other temple buildings and gardens on the 60ha Buddhist retreat site. With its backdrop of incredible coastal views about 50 km from the Adelaide CBD, the site has become a popular tourist attraction, and hosts regular Sunday prayer sessions.