FARINA NOTES - NEIGHBOURS

Week 5 stage 3

Volunteering at Farina offers much more than the opportunity to share an important reconstruction of history with an enthusiastic bunch of people: occasional tours around the station and nearby helps to situate the project in the environment that the original settlers might have encountered and perhaps get a sense of the challenges still faced today.

In the words of the quintessential Australian TV soapie “….everybody needs good neighbours…” well the far north of SA those neighbours might not be as close as suburbia but you still need to get to know who they are in case you need to call on someone, sometime. During these weeks our group has been afforded a trip around Farina and a visit to its next door neighbor - 24km along a dirt track to Witchelina.

FARINA STATION:
Anne and Kevin Dawes initially managed, and then, when the opportunity arose some 25 years ago, purchased the Farina station spreading over 900+ square kilometres. They operate a sheep station, run a tourist campground, 4WD tours and offer strong support for the restoration. Their generosity extends to organising a 4WD tour of the station that enables Farina volunteers to develop an appreciation of the country. Participants are exposed to a fascinating array of features the stretch out well past the shearers quarters where vast rusty gibber plain undulates with smatterings of scrubby salt bush as far as the eye can see. We were shown remains of a shepherd’s hut constructed from slate that must have once been a lonely or perhaps peaceful place to bed down while working the sheep.

Once atop a ridgeline the views across into the creamy white vastness of Farina Lake - flat, dry, salt, marked with unusual dark rock mounds - are surprising. Trevor Dawes tells the group that trailers for a Mad Max film and Toyota advertising footage had been shot in the area. We then drive through a narrow gorge that opens into an arena surrounded by shale hills and discovering a heavily salt encrusted, barely flowing creek lined with red samphire and hiding tiny fish. The extreme dry conditions had enticed several kangaroos to the creek where they unfortunately died from drinking the saline water. After a morning break for coffee and snacks that allowed us to appreciate the silence, we drove across the salt lake and out to a string of rocks where diverse colours of ochre were on display; the expected red-orange sits alongside pale creams and green possibly tinged by algae.

The 2 hour tour barely scratched the surface of the station area yet provided an insight into the sheer beauty and attraction of the landscape that must often call people to return.

FARINA NOTES - NEIGHBOURS

Week 5 stage 3

Volunteering at Farina offers much more than the opportunity to share an important reconstruction of history with an enthusiastic bunch of people: occasional tours around the station and nearby helps to situate the project in the environment that the original settlers might have encountered and perhaps get a sense of the challenges still faced today.

In the words of the quintessential Australian TV soapie “….everybody needs good neighbours…” well the far north of SA those neighbours might not be as close as suburbia but you still need to get to know who they are in case you need to call on someone, sometime. During these weeks our group has been afforded a trip around Farina and a visit to its next door neighbor - 24km along a dirt track to Witchelina.

FARINA STATION:
Anne and Kevin Dawes initially managed, and then, when the opportunity arose some 25 years ago, purchased the Farina station spreading over 900+ square kilometres. They operate a sheep station, run a tourist campground, 4WD tours and offer strong support for the restoration. Their generosity extends to organising a 4WD tour of the station that enables Farina volunteers to develop an appreciation of the country. Participants are exposed to a fascinating array of features the stretch out well past the shearers quarters where vast rusty gibber plain undulates with smatterings of scrubby salt bush as far as the eye can see. We were shown remains of a shepherd’s hut constructed from slate that must have once been a lonely or perhaps peaceful place to bed down while working the sheep.

Once atop a ridgeline the views across into the creamy white vastness of Farina Lake - flat, dry, salt, marked with unusual dark rock mounds - are surprising. Trevor Dawes tells the group that trailers for a Mad Max film and Toyota advertising footage had been shot in the area. We then drive through a narrow gorge that opens into an arena surrounded by shale hills and discovering a heavily salt encrusted, barely flowing creek lined with red samphire and hiding tiny fish. The extreme dry conditions had enticed several kangaroos to the creek where they unfortunately died from drinking the saline water. After a morning break for coffee and snacks that allowed us to appreciate the silence, we drove across the salt lake and out to a string of rocks where diverse colours of ochre were on display; the expected red-orange sits alongside pale creams and green possibly tinged by algae.

The 2 hour tour barely scratched the surface of the station area yet provided an insight into the sheer beauty and attraction of the landscape that must often call people to return.

June 2nd
Today's big project was erecting the frames for the second half of the Patterson house. The team put in a massive effort worked and worked solidly all day to get the walls up ready for the next stage of the project.
Bakery trade has been strong, with most visitors taking the time to have a good look around while they're here.
Work is also underway on the Transcontinental, with the current focus points being one of the back walls and part of the facade.
The crazy time lapse show below is the action on the Patterson site on the morning that the wall framing went up. Don't you wish we could all build this fast?

WITCHELINA:
Next door to Farina, Nature Foundation SA purchased this 4200 square kilometre property in 2010, taking over from famed farming families like Kidman and Ragless. We were all thankful for the offer from the resident manager to guide a group of Farina volunteers around the carefully renovated homestead, harking back to the late 1800s, old shearing sheds and other worker cottages. Phil the manager explained that the Foundation has a focus on revegetation to encourage native plants, birds and small mammals and with a view to provide facilities to enable scientific study. The Foundation hosts many groups including Birds SA, Flinders University science studies, geological and associated research. Birds SA has reported finding 100s of species reappearing amidst the renewed vegetation.

Like Farina, much of the work is undertaken by volunteers. The main homestead and old shearers’ quarters have been refurbished so that accommodation is available for its volunteers, researchers and also hire to visitors. We wandered through a creek lined with healthy eucalypts and up to a specific group of rocks, found in recent years, that mark the place where Goyder established a baseline to survey a triangle looking from Temptation Hill in a line to 20-mile hill and across to North-West hill. Witchelina has also been the subject of an intense study into habits of the rare thick-billed grass wren and a volunteer group rambling through a distant gorge found pre-fossil remains that will be investigated further. A small group of us decided to drive the long way back to Farina via the “wet track”, meaning it is passable when it rains. This allowed us to take in some remarkable hills covered in vigorous saltbush, vivid green nitrebush and eremophila; as well as identifying eucalypts and acacia along creek lines in the distance. One ridge top afforded 360 degree views, all of which formed part of Witchelina and capturing the almost overwhelming expanse of the property.

Not only did volunteers appreciate the tours but it seems there may be opportunities for collaboration between the Farina restoration project and Witchelina; reflecting the mutuality that often grows among neighbours in isolated situations and that may have parallels with the original town development.

Please note:- Our reporters this year were selected from volunteers who responded to our request for capable people who were willing to report our activities during a one or two week period within the eight weeks that restoration operations were in progress.
Their images and text record many of our activities - whether triumphs or disasters - and all are reported from the current reporter's point of view.

Please note:- Our reporters this year were selected from volunteers who responded to our request for capable people who were willing to report our activities during a one or two week period within the eight weeks that restoration operations were in progress.
Their images and text record many of our activities - whether triumphs or disasters - and all are reported from the current reporter's point of view.