Just 12 kilometres outside of Echuca (Echuca post here), is the town of Rochester, and I was delighted to discover two of the painted wheat silos that are part Victoria’s Silo Art Trail.
These two were painted by Jimmy Dvate. Educated at Monash University in Melbourne, he has painted in just about every state in Australia, as well as in Europe. His work highlights his passion for local flora and fauna, especially endangered species. He also painted, among others, the gorgeous depiction of draught horses at Goorambat, which I covered in a previous post.
There must have been a great thirst in Rochester in the early days, as the main street seems to be made up almost entirely of pubs.
I wandered around for a while, taking photos of the colonial buildings. Why can’t we have buildings like that now? We seem to be besotted with glass towers and concrete boxes, in Melbourne, anyway.
Dominating the far end of the main street is the Murray Goulburn dairy factory. Since 1978, it had been producing cheese from milk collected from surrounding farms. It was Australia’s largest dairy processor, but after severe, retrospective cuts to the farm gate milk price in 2016, many of its suppliers exited the industry. Sadly, the company had to close its doors in 2018, and the workers had to find jobs elsewhere in the district.
Rochester’s industry is now mainly based in primary agriculture: some dairy, tomatoes, cattle and sheep, along with some grain and seed farms.
Something the locals are pretty proud of is that Rochester was the birth place of Sir Hubert Opperman. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, ‘Oppy’ was the dominant figure in Australian cycling, winning the Australian road cycling championships in 1924, 1926, 1927 and 1929. A statue at the start of town has been modelled on his stunning victory at the Bol D’or in Paris in 1928. He went on to win many European races. In 1991, he returned to France and was honoured with the gold medal of the City of Paris.
He retired from cycling in 1940, and after war service with the air force, entered Federal politics. He was knighted in 1968.
Rochester’s a nice town, and very conveniently-placed, being only 12 kilometres from Echuca and the Murray.