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Published: September 16th 2021
Today we head home.
First stop this morning is the Murtoa Stick Shed. We read that until the outbreak of World War 2 Australia typically exported around sixty percent of its wheat to Great Britain and Western Europe. The War thus caused a glut, and the Stick Shed was thrown up in only four months in late 1941 and early 1942 to store some of the excess.
We watch a short video presentation before entering the structure. It’s jaw-droppingly massive - 265 metres long, 60 metres wide, and nearly twenty metres high at its highest point. The roof is supported entirely by 560 slender mountain ash poles, which are thought to have been salvaged from Victoria's infamous 1939 bushfires. According to the ever reliable Wikipedia it’s often claimed to be the largest “rustically built” structure on the planet. There was apparently no shortage of workers willing to help in its construction – mainly farmers and itinerants still wandering rural areas looking for work after the depression. The holes that the poles sit in were all hand dug. They were only about a metre deep and the poles weren’t weren’t concreted in, so when the wind blew strongly some of
them came clean out of the ground. The structure’s so flexible that it’s sometimes referred to as a “stick tent”. It was only supposed to last for ten years, but here it is 80 years on still looking extremely solid; well flexibly solid. It was eventually taken out of service in 1989 when it became too expensive to maintain. It was National Heritage Listed in 2014, and is the only one of 22 such structures that were built across the country’s wheat belts around the same time that’s still standing.
Next stop is more silo art work at the small town of Rupanyup. Most of the other silos we’ve seen have been the tallest structures in town, but this one’s proving a bit harder to spot. Eventually we track it down next to the town’s seemingly long since abandoned railway station. We hadn’t suddenly gone blind; these silos really are much shorter than any of the others we’ve come across. They also look suspiciously like they’re made out of steel rather than the customary concrete. We read that they were painted by a Russian mural artist and depict two local sporting team members – a netballer and an AFL
We continue on down the Highway. We slow down a few times for some short stretches of roadworks. We’re glad we’re not still in South Australia. If we were the whole Highway would be a slow go zone all the way from the border to Melbourne, and we’d be getting home in about a week’s time, or at least that’s how it would feel. It seems however that the South Australians might have at least one thing up on us Vics. Issy was having a lot of trouble getting her phone to charge while we were still in Victoria at the start of the trip. It then worked fine while we were in Crow Eater land, but now that we’re back in our home state it’s started playing up again. Her phone’s Chinese - a Huawei. She got it because it’s got a good camera, but we’re both now convinced that it’s got a microchip in it that the Chinese Government’s using to monitor our every move and thought. I hope her charging issues can’t be explained by the Chinese having managed to invade SA while we weren’t looking. I don’t remember us having to show our passports
at the border….…..
We hit the Melbourne suburbs at peak hour, and traffic comes to a standstill. We certainly haven‘t missed that.....
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