JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH ANDREW BROAD, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MALLEE
Today the Australian Government placed the ‘Cathedral of the Wimmera’ — The Murtoa
No. 1 Grain Store on the National Heritage List.
“I am delighted the Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store with its serene cathedral-like interior has been given Australia’s highest heritage honour,” Mr Hunt said.
“Standing in the Victorian wheat growing region of the Wimmera the grain store is not only a monument to Aussie bush ingenuity but also a symbol of the significance of Australia’s wheat industry.”
The unassuming exterior of this rare and remarkable building, also referred to as the Murtoa Stick Shed, belies its evocative interior and the story it tells of the impact of World War Two on the Australian home front, especially in the bush.
At 265 metres long, 60 metres wide and almost 20 metres high, the size and scale of the Murtoa Stick Shed store represents the massive growth of the wheat industry and the need for mass distribution, handling and storage facilities for Australia’s oldest agricultural crop.
In the late 1930s the wheat industry was producing between 150 and 160 million bushels per year, with 100 million for export. In the lead-up to World War Two it soon became apparent that exports could not continue.
As a result the Australian Wheat Board bought all the nation’s wheat and set-up a national system for its storage. The construction of emergency wheat stores commenced in 1939. Twenty-two emergency stores were built.
Designed to hold 3.5 million bushels or 92 500 tonnes of wheat, construction of the Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store began in late 1941 and is the only remaining emergency wheat store built during World War Two.
Federal Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad MP, said the survival of the Murtoa Stick Shed was a testament to the bush skills and ingenuity of the people of the Wimmera.
“Wartime restrictions meant the local builders had to rely on the use of raw, local and recycled materials,” Mr Broad said.
“The unavailability of steel meant 580 unmilled hardwood poles were used.
“To reduce the use of nails, galvanised hoop-iron was used in most of its structural joints. To do this, builders adapted the common bush technique for the bracing of end posts in fencing.”
The Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store is a rare and impressive example of Australian rural architecture and building technology used to solve a difficult and large scale engineering problem and continues to hold a special place in the Wimmera community.
National Heritage listing for the Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store means this place is given recognition as a significant part of Australia’s history associated with Australia’s wheat industry and the impact of World War Two on the home front. Entry on the National Heritage List also ensures that the place will be protected and celebrated for future generations.
The Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store is the 101st place on the National Heritage List.
For more information go to www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/murtoa