Published: 1 Feb 2022
Local business owner Bruce Agnew saw an opportunity when a small Victorian town’s silo art began to draw crowds.
Bruce noticed an influx of tourists stopping in Picola, a little town in northern Victoria, to view the painted silo located in the town centre.
However, there were no hospitality businesses in town to cater for their needs.
In November 2021, he delivered on his business idea and reopened the historic Picola Hotel as a café/bistro.
“There is always someone stopping to have a look at the silo art and people are coming a fair distance to see it,” he said.
“Before I opened the pub, you couldn’t get anything whatsoever in Picola.
“It’s a place people can come, meet, and have a yack, whereas before they probably weren’t doing that.”
Bruce has thought of it all, with large parking spaces for caravans and RVs for travellers to set up overnight camp behind the hotel, as well as bathrooms with showers available.
Picola and District Improvement Group president and silo art project organiser Jeanette Holland said it’s nice to see something that brings people to Picola.
“Because of the silo art, [Bruce] could see the benefit of having not just a hotel, but a café as well to cater for the tourists,” she said.
“The silo art and hotel are on a road that goes from Echuca to Cobram so any travellers going that way will go through Picola.
“There used to be a general store, garage and service station and the railway came through Picola, and I’ve seen all those things disappear over the years so it’s refreshing to see people in town again.”
Created by artist Jimmy D’Vate, Picola’s silo art mural features the Superb Parrot and scenes of local history and flora and fauna inspired by nearby Barmah National Park – home to the largest Red Gum forest in the world.
But there’s a twist to the artwork.
Years ago, Picola became known as ‘The Hook’ because it was the end of the line for the train from Nathalia.
Hidden in the artwork is a fishing hook which tourists are encouraged to spot when they visit.
The Picola silo art was funded through the Victorian Government’s Creative Activation Fund.