Farina is located within the Lake Eyre Basin, on the old alignment of the Ghan railway, 600 km north of Adelaide. It is 26 km north of Lyndhurst and 55 km south of Marree.
No longer inhabited, it was originally surveyed and proclaimed a town on 21 March 1878. It was first known as ‘Government Gums’ because of the mature River Red Gums in the creek to the north of the town but later its name was changed to “Farina” (Latin for wheat or flour) by farmers who optimistically hoped to turn the vast flat lands here into fields of grain.
432 quarter acre blocks were laid out during the 1880s with a population of about 100 adults and 50 children which tripled by the end of the decade. With the introduction of the northern railway known as the Ghan, it became the railhead from Port Augusta in 1882 until the line was extended to Marree two years later (eventually making Oodnadatta in 1891 and Alice Springs in 1929).
With good rains, Farina flourished and the population rose to about 600 at its peak with a bakery, grain store, two breweries, two hotels, a general store, post office, an Anglican church, cemetery, five blacksmiths, a school and even a brothel. However, years of drought and dust storms, the closing of the gold and silver mines nearby in 1927 and re-alignment of the Ghan railway line during the 1980s forced the eventual abandonment of the town.
The restoration project group was formed in 2008 by Victorian Tom Harding with support from Farina Station owners Kevin and Anne Dawes and the South Australian Outback Development Trust in Port Augusta. The group is financed by fundraisers and various grants including those from History SA.
The volunteers generally meet once a year at Farina in May to run fundraising events and work on the various restoration projects. With the help of a professional stonemason they are working on preserving the original buildings, marking roads, researching and creating interpretive signage. They have restored the unique underground bakery which is used at fundraising events; restored the cemetery, built a commemorative cairn for the Farina men that were lost during WWI and II. They have received funding to develop interpretive signage and story boards from History SA, through their one off SA175 grant (2010/11) and SA History Fund (2011/12).
The Project Coordinator in South Australia is Peter Harris: 08 8431 6030
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