Silo Art Trail: Patchewollock's 32-metre farmer

Farmer Nick Hulland​ has been teased mercilessly this week as his portrait has been painted on to the 35 metre high wheat silos of his home town, Patchewollock.

Mates are calling him "silo man" instead of his nickname Noodle, and joke that he paid big bucks to be immortalised on these sentinels overlooking the tiny Mallee town, population 250, which is 420km north-west of Melbourne.

In fact Mr Hulland, 42, a reserved wheat and sheep farmer, is embarrassed. He says he told artist Fintan​ Magee​ "that I hoped he was using water paint so it would wash off".

No luck. It could be there for centuries. But he'll suck it up. He allowed himself to be talked into it, because street art might be a life saver for his beloved 'Patche', by drawing in tourists.

"Our little town is slowly dying so we've got to do what we can to keep it going," he says.

The school closed in 2006 and the population has shrunk.

Its two shops closed, although one re-opened and is community-run. The wheat silos have been decommissioned.

Mr Hulland said the last two or three farming seasons had been tough due to drought, although they had been "terrible" for farms 100km to the south.

The mural is part of a new Silo Art Trail in which six small towns in Yarriambiack​ shire will have locals' images painted on silos.

The first, at Brim, 90km south of Patchewollock, was completed by artist Guido van Helten​ in January, depicting four locals who were not publicly named.

The four other proposed towns are: Sheep Hills, Rosebery, Lascelles and Rupanyup. Yarriambiack mayor Ray Kingston said the the silos will be linked on a 200km tourist drive.

The Brim mural had been "staggeringly successful", with businesses reporting increased trade. Visitors posting photos on social media had put the shire on the tourist map.

Mr Magee says Mr Hulland was judged slim enough to fit the two narrow silos, and had "that classic farmer look", embodying the locals' spirit.

The mural also depicts a tree dying and new growth to represent the bush life cycle. He said the silos project was about making art more accessible; "bringing art out of the galleries and making it part of people's everyday lives".

Mr Hulland, whose grandfather settled in 'Patche' under the post World War I soldier settlement scheme, said if the Patchewollock mural "promotes our little town in any way, that's good".

As he spoke, a bus of 12 Ouyen pensioners and visitors in several cars arrived to take photos.

Stephen May,  26, of Tempy, said he drove over after seeing the mural on Facebook.

"I like it a lot," Mr May said. "It describes living in the bush, the chequered shirt, country way of living very well. I reckon it is a good idea to have it. Silos rarely get used these days, so instead of demolishing them you can turn them into art."