The Australian Street Art Awards is aiming to transform destinations by recognising outdoor art around the country. The tourism awards for public art programs has 26 public art experiences. When I think of street art, I’m thinking inner city alleyways and factory walls. So, when I saw Western Australia won two gold medals and one silver medal for just one art experience, it must be a special one.
Drive south for 300km to a country town called Broomehill to begin the Horsepower Highway. The road to Gnowangerup is lined with an outdoor gallery of tricked up tractors. The idea came about when some positive community members formed a group called GNP360 in 2018. Their purpose, to kick-start new business and bring life and vitality to their region.
The big project was to attract tourists by creating the Horsepower Highway, a 75km drive trail from Broomehill, through Gnowangerup and ending at the Stirling Ranges. The ever-growing display currently has 22 tractors with stories to go with them. The community has created an interactive map with stories that visitors can read on site.
With all this horsepower and tractor stuff, you may be excused for thinking is all a bit too much machinery and engines. Sure, there are plenty of tractors. But, what we found so attractive about this trail is the stories and artistic flair we uncovered along the way as well as the dramatic backdrop of the Stirling Ranges. My favourites stories were:
Lucinda, a tractor painted pink and placed between two water tanks. Lucinda is a local supplier of everlasting flowers. One tank has a mural of those everlastings. The other tank features portraits of nine local women who have greatly contributed to the community in sport, volunteering and business. The murals are the work of WA artist, Jerome Davenport.
Another favourite is Mad Max, a tractor that was pimped up by John Byrne and a friend from nearby Mt Trio. They have used farmyard bits and pieces to create something that would not be out of place in the next Mad Max movie.
Snowy is now a white tractor mounted on a frame and represents the Bluff Knoll ski club. Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges is the only location in WA that gets a smattering of snow once or twice a year in winter. Bluff Knoll Ski Club is an example of local humour. Stand in the right spot and the tractor looks like it’s skiing down Bluff Knoll.
Diesel, a tired old tractor, rests in shadow of the Stirling Ranges. You may have seen him on the big screen in Disney’s Cars as a Tractor.
So back to the awards. With all the work, the GNP360 committee have done has landed them with the Best Sculpture Park or Trail and Best Rural Art gold medals, plus runner-up in the Best Street Art Trail section.
We look forward to the four new installations coming in 2022.
In addition, WA’s other award was second Best Street Art Festival or Event for Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe
Find out more about the Horsepower Highway here!