We stopped in the tiny town of Picola to view the Silo Art. The work is by Melbourne artist Jimmy DVate and depicts the flora and fauna of the nearby Barmah State Forest. The painting includes a Superb Parrot, brumbies, a Peregrine Falcon, a kangaroo & joey, a Freckled Duck, and Emu, an Eastern Great Egret and contains a hidden fishing hook. The artist included this because Picola was once known as ‘The Hook’ as it was the ‘end of the line’ when the railways were being built. It took a while to find the hook hidden on a branch in a tree.
We stopped a little further along the road in the little town of Barmah to check out the River Punt that has been lovingly restored and put on display. The Barmah Punt is the earliest remaining example of a cable punt ferry crossing the Murray River. Punt ferries were once the most common form of deep river crossing.
The majority of the punt is made from red gum timber and put together with forged nails and spikes. It has a loading ramp on each end that was raised and lowered using steel cables and pulleys. Prior to 1953 the punt was manually hand winched across the river by the ferryman however the punt was motorised in 1953.
In 1929 the NSW Department of Main roads took over operations and commissioned the construction of this punt. The punt was in continuous use until the new bridge was built in 1966.
In 2017 a $200,000 grant was given for the conservation of the Barmah Punt and it has been lovingly restored and displayed next to the river where it used to make its regular crossings.
Interestingly the Ned Kelly Gang once used the punt to cross the river. They played a game of cards at the Barmah Hotel and Ned bought a horse for 50 pounds before continuing on their way to Jerilderee.
We crossed the new bridge over the Murray River that replaced the punt in 1966 and we were once again in NSW for a short time. It was even more windy than earlier in the day as we made our way to Moama. It was so dry that the wind was whipping up the sandy soil and blowing it around creating a hazy day.