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A new season long festival of food, wine, art and adventure is launching in the Pyrenees

Words by Richard Cornish 
Images Supplied

It stands almost 20 metres high, has razor-sharp talons, a flesh piercing beak and has eyes that glow in the dark. The Barking Owl mural by renowned artist Jimmi Buscombe covers the north side of a steel grain silo at the historic Avoca Train Station and will be officially opened to the public at a stunning outdoor concert held onsite on Saturday, April 2.

Called ‘Silobration Under the Stars’ it will be one of the biggest outdoor events in regional Victoria this season.

“We have this outdoor celebration of this magnificent piece of silo art,” says organiser Hugh Forster.

‘Silobration Under the Stars’ starts at 4pm with local acts followed by headline acts featuring the powerful vocals of Jimmy Cupples and his band, the bad boys of 90s rock The Badloves and then the sultry and soulful sound of Kate Ceberano.

Silobration Under the Stars sees this historic site turned into a one-night celebration with food trucks and Pyrenees wineries pouring their wines at popup bars.

This is part of a raft of outdoor events and adventures called Play in the Pyrenees.

The Pyrenees is a stunning region west of Ballarat and covers forest, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, historic towns, rolling farmland and scores of small and medium wineries.

One of the big events is the end of vintage winemakers’ celebrations held on Saturday, April 9 on the banks of the Avoca River at Avoca from 11am-5pm. Called ‘Pyrenees Unearthed’, this wine and food festival sees the best of the region’s winemakers pouring their latest and favourite wines all day long with plenty of great plates from a curated collection of food trucks. Together with bands, children’s activities and non-alcoholic drinks this is a popular day for families. Held all day under the shade of the ancient river gums in the middle of this beautiful historic town, ‘Pyrenees Unearthed’ has become a regional icon.

On Friday 18 March, ‘Beaufort by Twilight’ will see the whole town brought to life with music and circus performances, kids’ activities and late-night trading. Come along and see what Beaufort has to offer from its main street to an art gallery at the old railway station, and a pop-up venue in a 1950s service station.

The region’s wineries are also celebrating the season and outdoor lifestyle with a series of music and art events. Taltarni in the hills outside historic Moonambel has artist Dawn Lim teaching painting in their vineyards on Sat March 5, vocalist Riley Mason singing on Sat March 26 and cabaret performer Aimee Brulee performing renditions of classics and her own compositions on Sat April 23. Meanwhile at Dalwhinnie Wines in Avoca, singer Laura Fitzgibbon will be performing her hauntingly beautiful music on the deck overlooking the ranges on Sun April 3, and Pyrenees legends Cal & Pickles will have you swaying on Easter Saturday, April 16.

In Beaufort at the southern end of the Pyrenees Ranges, a little old 1950s servo is being transformed into a shrine to the inventor of Australia’s black breakfast spread. The ‘Cyril Callister Pop Up Museum’ celebrates the ingenuity of this locally born man who not only invented Vegemite, but who changed the way we see nutrition in Australia. It is held on the fourth weekend of every month.

Another great adventure in The Pyrenees this autumn is ‘Bob Jenyns on the Lawn’ at Mrs Baker’s Still House at Glennpatrick. Three of the late artist and sculptor Bon Jenyns’ oversized ‘Meccano’ sculptures have been loaned to Mrs Baker’s Still House for several weeks for visitors to enjoy their beauty, ingenuity and artful, almost cheeky playfulness including a ‘Meccano’ jet and ship. That art of playfulness continues in the cosy cellar door where Mrs Baker serves up a $15 tasting tray of small serves of her five gins, three liqueurs and her vodka along with a range of garnishes from her garden and mixers.

Then there are the 4WD tracks of the Pyrenees to explore. Consider doing it within an exciting two-day self-guided navigation event in the Pyrenees Range and Mount Cole State Forests for a driver and navigator (more if you like) who love the environment, history, culture and the places a well-equipped 4WD can get them. Check out the ‘Harrison’s Navrun 4WD Challenge’ on March 18-19.

Or else just pack a picnic and head to the beautiful Pyrenees this Autumn. Unfurl your rug by the banks of the Avoca River or sit in the shade of the Chinese Pavilion in the stunning Avoca Chinese Gardens. Lunch under an ancient elm and enjoy the tranquil waters of Lake Beaufort. Take the scenic Ferntree Gully Road in Mount Buangor State Park to the aptly named Ferntree Falls Picnic ground. There are scores of beautiful places to picnic in the Pyrenees, the most popular listed on the Visit Pyrenees website. Bring your own picnic or order a picnic from local businesses listed on the website below.

WHAT: Play in the Pyrenees

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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