Portland’s old cement works, now known as The Foundations, which are in the midst of being painted by world renowned artist, Guido Van Helten, have created a new sense of excitement in Portland.
The painting of the silos has had a major impact on Portland with over 700 people coming to visit the site in one weekend alone.
But it isn’t the only attraction causing hype. Portland has recently seen the opening of The Glen Museum, which includes a collection of historical artifacts from Portland.
Every Saturday and Sunday in April local architect Graham Johnson has given tours of the main buildings and iconic structures around the Portland cement works.
The tours have been popular with residents and tourists, with every weekend completely booked out.
Portland markets have also been a popular attraction, for locals and tourists alike. On Saturday, April 28 a 70’s vintage car group drove up to visit the cement works and markets.
“There has obviously been an instant impact in Portland, with tours of the site being booked out and last weekend was the busiest weekend Portland has seen,” Councillor Maree Statham said.
The on-flow of tourism into the local coffee shops and stores has been seen by business owners with shops packed out over the April weekends.
“There’s a vibe in the town, everyone is excited,” she said.
Councillor Statham said when she came into town on the weekend she couldn’t get a park due to the amount of people visiting.
“I think people are starting to realise its not that far to drive to Portland and that we have lots on offer,” she said.
“These are the biggest works that he has ever done, you will be able to see all the pictures 360 degrees around them, when normally his artworks are more one sided,” she said.
Councillor Statham has met people from all over New South Wales who have come out to visit the silos.
“I’ve met people from Leura, Gulgong, Parkes and Wollongong, they are coming from all over the State which is just wonderful for Portland,” she said.
Councillor Cass Coleman said that it’s not just tourism that Portland will benefit from, but also the lasting legacy that this will provide the families of the men on the silos.
“It’s going to put Portland on the map,” she said.
Councillor Coleman said she has seen the community put their differences aside and come together to support the project.
“There is a sense of pride among the people talking about it, it really is an exciting time to be living here and being part of history being created,” she said.
“My children are forth generation Portland so for them this is exciting, because they can talk about it with their children and tell them the story of the silos.”
Residents have been going down to the silos daily to check the progress of the artwork and to take guesses about who is being painted.
“I’ll ask the kids ‘Where’s your dad?’ and they’ll be like ‘at the silos again’ so it just shows the interest they are creating around town,” Councillor Coleman said.
“It’s just an exciting and emotional time to be in Portland and I can’t wait to see the final product.”
Portland markets will be held at The Foundations on Saturday, May 5.