Do you know a Trailblazer?

by | Jun 6, 2019 | Bush Voices


Do you know a Trailblazer?


Applications are now open for the ABC Heywire’s Trailblazers program, which showcases the stories of regional Australia’s brightest new leaders.

Trailblazers is an opportunity for people, aged 18 – 28, who are implementing positive change in their region, to have their work celebrated nationally.

Successful applicants will have their story told on the ABC and also attend a Trailblazer Lab in Canberra next February.

The five-day lab aims to empower young, regional leaders and to give them an opportunity to share their stories and build their leadership capacity.


Former Trailblazer and CEP Rural Youth Ambassador, Joe Collins, from Woomelang in the Mallee, applied for the program with a project to help his small town get back on the map (see Joe’s project and video below).

Joe’s pitch was “Endangered Species of the Mallee” – a series of large-scale murals showcasing the local area’s endangered species, while also helping the town become part of the celebrated Victorian Silo Art Trail.

Joe says Trailblazers gave him the opportunity to make valuable connections and decide what the next steps were for his project.

“It’s a real game changer and I would highly recommend it to everyone,” he said.

“The workshops we did with the ABC and the people we met; that was an experience I’ll be forever grateful for.”


Who can apply to be a Trailblazer?

Individuals and groups of up to three, aged 18-28, who are initiating projects that create positive change in their communities.  From young community leaders to social entrepreneurs, advocates to event organisers – it’s all about young people with a commitment to making regional Australia even better.

What do Trailblazers receive?

  • A trip to the Trailblazers Lab in Canberra in February 2020
  • Their story told on ABC platforms
  • Extensive networking, mentoring and leadership opportunities

Applications close Friday, July 5, 2019. You can find more information at


Overcoming a fear of snakes to save a town & wildlife

Can art save a town and its animals?

When Joe proposed painting a huge mural of a snake on a wall in his home town of Woomelang, Vic, it caused some controversy. But that mural has turned into a long-term effort to raise awareness about the regional Australia's endangered species – including its small towns. ? ? ?

Posted by Heywire on Sunday, May 26, 2019

The 19-year-old vice president of the Woomelang and District Development Association hopes a mural project will have the dual advantage of raising awareness about local endangered species and attracting tourists to the sometimes-forgotten town.

Mr Collins was disappointed when his town’s privately-owned silo could not be included in the highly successful Silo Art Trail.

But determined not to miss out, he approached the street art network behind the silo phenomenon, Juddy Roller.

The town was put in touch with artist Andrew Bourke — known as Sirum — who painted a Victorian carpet python on the town’s general store.


Overcoming a fear of snakes

It took some effort by Mr Collins to convince the local community of the value of the work.

But when the artist sent the original draft idea of the python, Mr Collins had to call an emergency meeting to ask the community to make a very quick decision.

“It was the middle of harvest so everyone was pretty pissed off at the fact they had to come into town,” he said.

“Many locals didn’t like the python, they were really against painting a snake on the wall.

An idea born

After warming to the mural and seeing the flow-on effects in the form of visitors to the town, the local community were inspired to continue with the idea.

They paired with the Wimmerra Catchment Management Authority and picked eight new animals to have painted around the town.

“It’s interesting to see what animals are endangered — there’s animals I’ve never seen my entire lifetime in the Mallee region.”

He said he was confident the idea was distinctive enough to stand out from the silo project, but that it added value to the original trail.

“They don’t just have to do the 120-kilometre original route, they can do all sorts now.”

Director of Juddy Roller and founder of the Silo Art Trail, Shaun Hossack, said there was plenty of room for more art on the trail.

“The Silo Art Trail is hundreds of kilometres long,” Mr Hossack said.

Can art save animals?

Mr Hossack said he believed street art is one of the more impactful artforms, because it is accessible to so many people.

“The Silo Art Trail really changed everyone’s perspective on what street art was, and what it could do, it brought it to a mainstream audience,” he said.

“Some people want to bury their head, they don’t want to know about endangered species, [but] when it’s on a large wall and it’s quite aesthetically pleasing, then it’s palatable for those people.”

Beyond that, he said the economic impact of the silo murals had surprised even him.

“They’re bringing thousands of tourists to areas no tourist would ever have had any reason to go to,” he said.

“It really has an impact on all the small businesses, all the little community shops — 10 or 20 extra pots of beer and parmas really has an impact in towns like that.

More than a pretty picture

Mr Collins said he was amazed by the flow-on effects of the Silo Art trail in nearby towns.

“It’s mind blowing, it’s changed my perspective on the region,” he said.

“[In] towns that were completely dead, like Brim, the pub reopened, an information centre was built, the caravan park opened again — it’s nearly rebuilt towns.”

He said beyond bringing tourism to towns he believed it also gave them more lobbying power.

“Sea Lake, Hopeton and the whole Silo Art Trail has got full support from the Government.”

(Article from ABC Online — Written By Aimee Volkofsky and Leah White