Tatong boasts own tank art

By Simon Ruppert

The small township of Tatong now has its own street art installation thanks to local tavern owner Pedro Schroder.

For several years residents have watched other townships jump on the street-art bandwagon — and witnessed the increased visitor numbers as a result.

With limited buildings in town, and no silos, Pedro decided to commission local artist Mike Larkin to decorate a water tank, which he is describing as a ‘‘small silo’’.

‘‘I used to own the Swanpool general store and with the local community I got a grant to put a mural on the fence showing the history of the town,’’ Mr Schroder said.

‘‘We also put in a big mural on the history of Ned Kelly and did a water tank there.

‘‘Then when I took over the Tatong Tavern I had a water tank that was pretty boring and I spoke to a local artist, Mike Larkin, about painting it — it took me a year, but I finally talked him into doing it.’’

Mr Larkin said he had done artwork for Mr Schroder in the past in Swanpool and was excited to be asked to do something similar in Tatong.

‘‘I was pretty happy with how it came out,’’ Mr Larkin said.

‘‘The black-and-white section was straight forward, but the one in the middle — the Ned Kelly scene — took a bit more time.

‘‘Pedro wanted the mural to show the Kelly Gang prospecting up in the local hills, and we’re told that is what they did do in their day.

‘‘So I did an initial sketch and I took it into the pub. I got some feedback from the locals, and based on that I did a second sketch.

‘‘That is the one I ended up with and I am so happy with it, I think it worked out really well.’’

The scenes on the water tank are actually just one of two murals on show on the grounds of Tatong Tavern.

‘‘I had a big mural of the Swanpool General Store which I had relocated here, that was painted by a local artist in Swanpool called Don — I forget his surname unfortunately,’’ Mr Schroder said.

‘‘I’m actually in this mural. I’m sat on the running boards of the car.

‘‘It’s from a genuine photograph of the Swanpool Post Office, which was taken in the 1920s and had the original owners, Edna and Ted, in it.

‘‘Don said he could also put me and my wife in. I said okay, so long as you make us look a bit younger. He did that with the missus — but not so much with me.’’

The artwork on the water tank took Mr Larkin under a month to complete, just in time for the start of Wall to Wall — and Mr Schroder said he was hoping to be an official part of the festival next year.

‘‘I would like Tatong to be part represented. I had tried to get involved for this year, but the committee said that we were a little bit too late,’’ Mr Schroder said.

‘‘So for next year’s festival we’re hoping to get the wall of the CFA done as well.

‘‘Ideally we would like to get a few murals around town. We’ve got the shelter shed on the school we’d like to get decorated, too.’’

Even without being an official part of the Wall to Wall festival, the art has been doing a good job increasing visitor numbers in Tatong.

Mr Schroder said since the water tank had been completed he had seen an increase in people camping on their three-acre site, and more people passing through in general.

‘‘We get anywhere from two to four people per day coming to take a look,’’ Mr Schroder said.

‘‘And they tend to come in for a drink, and some have meals, so it’s been good for business, too.

‘‘It’s good to see people visiting Tatong.’’