Forest Hill Community Development Association president Fred Wilks with secretary Melinda Brimblecombe at the Forest Hill silos. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Forest Hill Community Development Association president Fred Wilks with secretary Melinda Brimblecombe at the Forest Hill silos. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

Revealed: Plans to bring giant silo art to Lockyer Valley

A few thousand litres of paint could significantly boost the economy, create a new tourism drawcard and complete an already-expanding Lockyer Valley town.

The four silos in Forest Hill are the perfect blank canvas with painters lining up to tackle the project.

But painting four silos isn’t as easy as whipping out a bucket of Dulux and a brush, with the proposed Inland Rail project, different landholders and the need for a perfect design all contributing to the puzzle.

The local silo project has been in the pipeline for several years, with the Forest Hill Community Development Association pushing the plan.

Secretary Melinda Brimblecombe said it was a project that would benefit the whole valley, not just Forest Hill.

“Forest Hill is becoming a destination now, so to be able to give tourist another point of interest while they are here would be really exciting,” she said.

“The drawcard for the town would be amazing to help the businesses and help the town.”

If the Forest Hill silo project was given approval, they would become the first painted silos closest to Brisbane.

The group has joined with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council, who are working with landholders – including GrainCorp and Queensland Rail.

LVRC: Silo art community consultation plan in development

Forest Hill silos. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Forest Hill silos. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

A plan is unfolding to start community consultation in Forest Hill about the silos.

LVRC’s senior community activation officer Neil Williamson said although there had been overwhelming support by the wider community, it was the locals who had to live with the final decision.

“We want to make sure the Forest Hill community has a strong say in artwork designs and the project itself,” Mr Williamson said.

“We haven’t done broad community consultation yet, but we have a plan set up for that.”

Mr Williamson said GrainCorp, who own the silos, had given in-principal support to the project, but council was required to deliver a detailed project plan to gain full authorisation.

In addition, some of the surrounding land that would be required for the project is owned by Queensland Rail.

“It’s taking a long time because there are a lot of processes to do to ensure the project it right, and it’s a project that will be somewhat expensive,” Mr Williamson said.

He said a major attraction with painting the Forest Hill silos was the “day trip distance” to Forest Hill, which no other painted silos in Queensland offered.

“Other silos require overnight stays due to their location, but for Forest Hill and the Lockyer, we are predominantly a day trip destination for South East Queensland,” Mr Williamson said.

“Visitors would be able to have a look and visit cafes, restaurants, then do some farmgate shopping, we see so many economical benefits in this project if we can pull it off.”

The next step includes community consultation, which Mr Williamson said could happen in the next couple of months.

The consultation would then determine a design brief that artists then respond to.

CAFE OWNER: ‘We want people talking about our town when they leave’

Caffe Sorella owner Luciana Conte. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Caffe Sorella owner Luciana Conte. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

When tourists leave Forest Hill, business owner Luciana Conte wants visitors to talk about the town.

And by painting the silos, Mrs Conte believes that will happen.

While visitors wouldn’t physically pay to see the silos, they’d stop by her shop Caffe Sorella, for a cuppa and bite to eat.

“We are really lucky in that the few small business owners in our town are very passionate about what they do,” Mrs Conte said.

“It’s not going to make us money, but it might keep people here, make them return or tell others about us – to me that’s the best thing.”

Mrs Conte, a Forest Hill local, has operated her shop in town for the past 18 years, and said painting the silos would “tidy and finish” the town.

As for designs, Mrs Conte suggested a rural design, but she didn’t want to see local faces painted on the silos.

“We have very much been the produce centre of the Valley in the past … Because we are a food bowl, it needs to be a reflection of that.”

She also suggested a caravan or camping park that would allow silo trail users to stay the night.

“If it’s a destination they might not just want to come here for a day but stay overnight and go to a B&B – they’ll come off the highway and might make this the detour because there’s plenty to see or do,” she said.

PUBLICAN: Caravan, camping ground would add to tourism boost

Kylie and Don Shepherd, owners of the Lockyer Hotel and Forest Hill Hotel. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel
Kylie and Don Shepherd, owners of the Lockyer Hotel and Forest Hill Hotel. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel

Although not quite local, Don Shepherd is regularly questioned by visitors about what they can see or do when they stop by one of his two Forest Hill pubs.

Don and his wife Kylie own both watering holes in Forest Hill, the Lockyer Hotel and Forest Hill Hotel, and the duo are eager to see the silos painted.

“I think it would be a big drawcard,” Mr Shepherd said.

He was also in support of constructing a camping or caravan park area to encourage overnight visits.

“There’s a lot of caravaners around these days, and that’s the push at the moment – getting everyone to travel around Australia,” he said.

“Visitors are looking for something to do, they are out here now asking what else they can see or do.”

Mr Shepherd bought the Forest Hill hotel in 2011, and the Lockyer Hotel across the road three years ago.

He said if tourism increased with the silo art project, it would pave the way for opening both hotels during the week, instead of part-time open hours for the Lockyer.

ARTIST: Mural painter has eyes on silo project

Brisbane artist Daniel Krause, in front of one of his murals. PHOTO: Supplied
Brisbane artist Daniel Krause, in front of one of his murals. PHOTO: Supplied

There is already an artist eager to use the silos as his canvas, and his previous artwork is no stranger to the Lockyer Valley.

Brisbane-based artist Daniel Krause has already painted murals at Wet Dreams Aquatics on the Warrego Highway, and said it’s his dream to paint a silo.

As a professional painter of 11 years, Mr Krause said he would like to leave his mark on a local landmark.

“It’s a tourism drawcard. The whole silo art thing has taken off and nomads are cruising around taking photos of their caravans in front of them,” he said.

“It’s boosting towns a lot.”

As for designs, Mr Krause said that would be up to the community.

“You’re not going to please everyone, but at the same time you want a drawcard for people to come and visit,” he said.

“If it all went ahead, everyone would throw in their ideas. I’d really have to talk to everyone and look up the local area.”

Originally published as Revealed: Plans to bring giant silo art to Lockyer Valley