A drive through the Australian country side especially through the wheat belt areas, these mammoth structures are an imposing sight, unlikely to be missed. There are hundreds of them across Australia, dotted in country towns where grain is produced, symbolising an era of abundance in this farming nation. They are called ‘Silos’, constructed for storing grain. From the early 1900’s, silos have shaped the landscape of many rural towns across Australia.
The world ‘Silo’ is of Greek Origin. Siros meaning a pit or hole sunk in ground, for keeping corn in. Siros become Latinised into Sirus and in its turn Sirus in Spanish and French corrupted to Silos. A silo is a structure for storing bulk materials like grains or fermented feed known as silage. These mammoth structures you see in Australian country towns are called tower silos. These silos are built near the train line for easy transportation of stored grain. There are other types of silos too, namely bunker silos and bag silos.
Australia’s first upright wheat silo was constructed at Peak Hill, NSW in 1918. It was first of the concrete Silos and many more were constructed in Australia since then. Grain Corp owns majority of Silos in Australia now. Closure of railway lines, change of methods in grain storage and transportation has resulted in abandoning of these imposing structures across Australia.
Many potential new uses have been suggested for these abandoned Silos such as
Silo Art – Transforming the walls into giant work of art
Turning them into Cellular communication towers
Redesigning them as flats etc.
Many of these defunct grain towers are already transformed into giant work of art to attract tourists to dwindling farming towns. The wheat Silo in the above photo is at Coonalpyn, a farming town in South Australia with a population of 200. The mural is painted by Guido van Helten who has made a name for himself making large-scale public artworks in cities across Europe and the US.