2. Why The Stick Shed was Built

The story of Murtoa and of the Stick Shed is one inextricably linked to grain.

There was a wheat glut in Australia beginning in the late 1930s. The main overseas wheat export market was Great Britain and Western Europe, which rapidly decreased due to a shift in their trading partners and restricted shipping with the commencement of World War II in 1939. Asia became the new target market in the interim as part of the Colombo Plan. With trade restricted due to the War, grain excess was rapidly stockpiling.

In 1939-40, a good wheat crop and a heavily reduced export trade due to World War II led to grain stockpiling and a shortage of storage facilities. This prompted the Australian Wheat Board to design and build the first large bulk storages in Western Australia. They were referred to as ‘bulkheads’ originally, then commonly known as Emergency Wheat Storage Sheds.

Victorian wheat storages, including the many concrete bulk silos built in the 1930s filled up. Countless railway sidings around Australia began to overflow with bagged wheat brought in directly from farms.

Finally, the potentially large 1941-2 Victorian crop was looming, so it became critical that an immediate solution to this massive problem was found in Victoria. The Victorian Grain Elevators Board decided, despite much opposition from many quarters involved in bag-handling, to construct the first Victorian Shed at the important railway site of Murtoa.