On the eve of Anzac Day, war mural steals a town's heart

During World War I, the small town of Devenish and district had a population of around 300, but 50 of its citizens - one in six - signed up to serve.

Seven diggers died and never came home.

The war’s impact still resonates today. Many people in the wheat farming community, near Benalla in northern Victoria, have family ties to those 50 who served.

Art from the heart: the mural the people of Devenish, in northern Victoria funded on its old silos depicts two service women, 100 years apart: a WWI nurse and a modern day army medic. Photo: p1xels

Art from the heart: the mural the people of Devenish, in northern Victoria funded on its old silos depicts two service women, 100 years apart: a WWI nurse and a modern day army medic. Photo: p1xels

Farmer Kevin Mitchell said locals were keen to mark the centenary of the end of the war, but also to bring visitors to the town ‘‘and make it a bit more vibrant’’.

More than 100 local people raised $20,000 to fund a striking 20-metre-high mural on disused grain silos, opposite the Railway Hotel.

Painted by Melbourne artist Cam Scale over 11 days, it depicts two women, 100 years apart - a WWI nurse and a modern-day army medic.

The modern soldier was to be male, but Scale said he thought a woman medic "would show the changing role of nursing and of women’s role in society and the military".

It doesn’t depict a particular person, but two Devenish women were World War I nurses.

Mr Mitchell, chairman of the Devenish Silo Art Committee said the mural, which Benalla Rural City mayor Don Firth will launch on Tuesday, the eve of Anzac Day, was the biggest thing to happen in the town ‘‘for quite a while’’ and widely admired.

‘‘It’s very respectful and beautifully painted. It makes you think. It’s an excellent tribute to those who went away from our district," Mr Mitchell said.

Cam Scale spent 11 days painting a 20m high mural on silos overlooking the tiny town of Devenish, near Benalla. Photo: p1xels

Cam Scale spent 11 days painting a 20m high mural on silos overlooking the tiny town of Devenish, near Benalla. Photo: p1xels

‘‘It’s a tribute to those who put the country ahead of themselves, both in the early days and currently.’’

It will be part of a new ‘‘silo art trail’’ that already includes the towns of Goorambat and Tungamah.

‘‘I think it will create a heck of a lot of interest,’’ Mr Mitchell said. ‘‘It’s certainly going to make everyone aware in Victoria, and wider, where Devenish is.’’

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