About Silos on the Air (SiOTA)

Don’t enjoy hiking to the top of a cold and wind-swept summit? Don’t enjoy hacking your way through the undergrowth to get to a remote park? Then we have a new program for you – Silos On The Air.

The idea of Megan Woods (VK3TIN), the new program offers excellent opportunities for an interesting day trip taking in some relics of Australia’s agricultural heritage. Easy travel by road is involved, and most have a nearby café.

Silo’s have a prominent place in the agricultural development of Australia. Situated throughout the wheatbelt stretching from Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, Tas and to WA, they are a reminder of an age when the only way to get grain to market was to deliver to the local silo in town and have it transported to port. This grain collection network still exists, but often grain is stored in bags or trenches and transported by road. The figure below shows the distribution of silos throughout the wheatbelt.

We have focussed on the traditional cylindrical concrete (tower) silo as these are probably worth a visit and a photo. Modern bulkhead, bag and trench silos are not included as they lack any visual interest. Many of the tower silos are still in use, and in city areas many have been converted into hotels or apartments. As you are no doubt aware, 44 silos, at last count, have had giant murals painted on them. There is a map at the SiOTA site identifying all qualifying silos, and those with murals are indicated by a different coloured pin.

Many of the silos are worthy of a visit in their own right, but the town they are in often has other attractions on offer. Murtoa, Vic is home to the famous stick shed. This is not a silo, but a ‘temporary’ structure built in 1941 for grain storage. It is an amazing cathedral of timber poles and is open 10am-2pm each day. Each town has similar interesting features other than their silo.

Over 800 silos have been identified, but we don’t claim to have them all.

To qualify a silo, you need 3 contacts, at least one of which must be on HF. You must also be within 1km of the silo and not encroach on private land without permission. There are no awards, but a list of top activators and chasers will be shown. Like the parks program, only activators need to submit a log.

The silo data has been extracted from many sources. Marc Hillman (VK3OHM) extracted silos from OpenStreetMap. There are a few silo photo collections, and a lot of Googling was also involved. There has also been a lot of following current and abandoned railway lines from space.

The silo program is designed to encourage leisurely road trips passing through many beautiful areas of the wheatbelt.

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