Midland Grain Silo
Look. Every now and then, you’ll find somewhere that captures you. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Like falling for a Tony Abbott voter who despises Adam Goodes as much as you do Andrew Bolt, you might have no idea why you like it so much.
One of these spots is the old grain silo in Midland. In my younger days I would go there and wonder about the lives of the artists who painted the walls. Their talent struck me. Often their work would seem too good to be on a wall of a disused warehouse where the only passing eyes would be kids like us, people like them, or the train drivers leaving Midland on their way to the Eastern or Northern Hinterlands.
But the main attraction of this place was the unknown of the inside. The outside was trashed and easy access, but getting in seemed impossible. There were Immovable slide doors. Bolted swing gates. Immovable garage style runners. There wasn’t even a window to sate my curiosity. Perhaps that’s why it held so long. We even contemplated trying to swim under and in through a flooded tunnel that seemed to run underneath the place.
One day as we were driving past, we noticed a piece of the roof was missing. I thought it must have flown off in a storm. Not so. When we got to the spot, we saw that a huge chunk of the wall and roof had simply been torn down. As if captured by the same need of knowing, someone had simply smashed in the wall rather than try and open the doors. Inside stood the culprits, two big earth movers.
There was no hint at who or why this had happened. At first I thought it might mean the building was going to be razed, but a year on it still stands. When I go there now, I am still awestruck by the sheer size of the place. Somewhere near 200 metres long, 70 metres across, and 30 metres high at the top of the half cylinder roof. It's a rare structure. But the place now has a new attraction. Inside is now one of the East’s finest unofficial galleries. A myriad of artists have covered every accessible part of the inner walls. A rich collection of styles impress themselves on you.
Often my friends and I go there just to look at the work, eating the HJ’s that has become a religious rite for us. Recently we found one of the garage style doors had been opened, and an access gate had been opened. We drove in. We had a huge indoor road where we could do whatever we wanted without fear of being seen. What this place once was for me it is no more. What was a huge symbol of agricultural history of Midland, is now a hotspot for street art.
There are some adjoining sheds that will hopefully get a similar treatment soon. An application has been made to demolish the buildings, and one hopes that sense will prevail and this icon can continue to reinvent itself. It would be a shame to see it become just another casualty of the mindset of demolition over redevelopment.
Thanks to Levi Neeson and Louis Hooper for some of the choice snaps.