Elaine also said that there was another family of Afghan heritage who lived in Farina during her years there and it seems that this was the Mustan family, earlier generations of whom shifted provisions and wool clips to and from the areas north of Farina, and including areas as far north as Queensland.
Elaine did have some little anecdotes to tell including a story about the ferocity of the sand and dust storms that would sweep into the township of Farina from the surrounding countryside from time to time and would pile up sand so high on buildings that some considerable time had to be spent shovelling the sand away from the garage/shed doors in order for her father to get his vehicle out and mobile again. Some other anecdotes involved the post office and the first of these was when Elaine, who was about to enter the premises, spotted a snake, (which were a constant threat), slither inside. She yelled out to ‘Chip’ and the snake was next seen leaving the store at a ‘frantic rate of knots’ followed by a broom. On another occasion Elaine was accompanied by the family dog for her visit to the Post Office. As she neared the premises there was a chap sitting leaning up against a veranda post and, as she walked past the chap, the pooch lifted his leg and pee’d on the shirt sleeve of the chap. Without even hesitating he exclaimed “Well isn’t that a coincidence, I was just thinking that my shirt was in need of a wash”! Nevertheless, Elaine has said she was ‘mortified’ when out of the corner of her eye she had seen the little rascal of a dog lift a hind leg.
The small population of Farina meant that there were restrictions as to just how much sporting facilities could be provided. There wasn’t a football team and besides if they could cobble a team together just who would they play against? And even if you did play you would be destined to have a hard landing if tackled. No, other than not having the chance to play a game of football, there was the opportunity to play a bit of tennis, go to a dance, (and that was probably only when it rained), and play cards, (bridge tournaments and other games were organised by Vi Field and proceeds went to charity). The major event that seems to have taken place in Farina was horse races (albeit on a track that would not resemble anything like the usual race courses that we have been accustomed to seeing). One such event that took place when Elaine and her parents lived at Farina was a Race Meeting, Gymkhana and Ball on the 15 July 1937 in order to raise funds for the Farina Hospital. In conjunction with the Ball a queen of sports competition was held with Miss Margan Mahomet winning from Miss Joan Newland and Phyllis Gourlay. Apart from horse racing several events such as sprinting, egg and spoon races etc were held. Several families from surrounding stations including Murnpeowie, Mount Lyndhurst, Witchelina, Wilpoorina, Avondale, Depot Springs, Beltana, Burr Well, Lyndhurst and Myrtle Springs also attended. It seems that another annual function was a Sports Day on each New Year’s Day attended by people from stations “far and near” in order to take part in displays of horsemanship, military sports and tent pegging (the latter of which the local Afghans excelled at).
Wes and Vi and Elaine were only at Farina for about 3 to 4 years but it seems those years were memorable. I often used to see my Uncle Wes (who had by then retired) and Aunt Vi throughout my younger years and I can recall how they would ‘wax lyrical’ about the good times that they had in Farina.
In addition to the above I have also added some thoughts/comments that Elaine provided me with some years ago relating to her father’s policeman days at Farina. They read as follows:
“He started in Adelaide and then transferred to Farina, a small town in the Far North. To take up his posting he purchased his first car to tackle the rough, rocky and hard roads and sand dunes and life was certainly different. The one teacher school, with about 25 attending, a hospital run by a nursing sister, and the one General Store was far removed from Goodwood Primary School where I had started. However, we had lots of fun and I learned to swear in about the first week! The men celebrated Test Matches against England in a very ‘wet’ manner, likewise the race meetings, and in fact there were a lot of good times. Even the dogs had ‘surnames’! We left Farina in 1939 when the war broke out and Dad was transferred to Sedan”
A little bit of background on the Mahomet family of Farina
Gool Mahomet came to Australia around 1895/6 and earned his living carting with camels on the goldfields of Western Australia. There he met Adrienne Lesire, a French woman said to be from Paris, and they married in 1907. Later they travelled across country by camel to South Australia where initially he joined Moosha Balooch’s camel train, and later was in charge of camel men at Maree. Gool was later employed on Wilgena Station for seven years in which time he earned enough money to buy his own string of camels. Their first born and eldest son Sherali (Sher Ali) was born on the journey that they had made from Western Australia. Gool Mahomet was living in Farina in the 1930’s and in conjunction with his sons used camel teams for sinking dams in the district. In a newspaper article, published in The News (Adelaide) Thursday 25 November 1937, he related how there were once “30 Afghans living in Farina. Now he is the only one. There are only 100 camels there now, compared with the 400 to 600 before. In those days it was a common sight to see caravans of 40 camels, attended by four men, setting out from town. The Afghan camel drivers helped open up Australia but now they don’t want us”, he said sadly. Gool and Adrienne had 6 children (thought to be 3 boys and three girls). Among the jobs and tasks that his camels were used for was the carting of wire netting, posts and supplies for the rabbit proof fence in the Lake Torrens West district. His carting business fell off when motor transport began plying the roads and he bought up a property of 378 square miles in virgin country which he developed with his two sons Sherali and Salloy. This property near Farina was called Mulgaria Station. His apparently very attractive daughters Marjan and Sayira both married and later lived in Whyalla. He died at age 85 in May 1950 while attending the Adelaide Mosque in Little Gilbert Street and he was survived by two sons and 2 married daughters. His wife Adrienne had died at Farina on 16/1/1939 age 57, and their youngest daughter also died that same year on the 16 June at the Royal Adelaide Hospital-‘A patient sufferer at rest’. Gool was regarded as one of the best known members of the Australian Afghan community and during the war he offered as part of his contribution towards the war effort 20 camels free to be used in the special Northern Territory camel corps.
Some students who were known to have attended the Farina School in the years 1933 and 1934:
1933: Brian Zbierski and Bruce Bell Grade 3, Jack Butler and Kathryn Rowland Grade 4 and 5, Muriel ‘Muzzy’ Chapman and Lorna Moffat Grades 6 & 7, Harold Moffat, Miriam Mustan, and Edna Singer Grades (?)
1934: M Mustan Grade 2, E Mustan and Lorna Johnston Grade 3, Evelyn Paterson Grade 4, Michael Johnston Grade (?),
Compiled by Neil Field 18/9/2015
Some of the newspaper articles I have located on TROVE (National Library of Australia) that have references useful for compiling the above articles are as follows:
‘Great Northern Juvenile Athletics and Exhibition-Quorn June 6’- The Advertiser Wednesday 7 June 1933, Page 7
‘Schools Exhibition at Quorn-Dust storm Affects Attendances’-The Advertiser Wednesday 26 September 1934, Page 8
‘The Country-Farina’- The Advertiser Monday 4 October 1909, Page 8
‘Governor at Inland Children’s Camp’ The Advertiser Thursday 14 January 1937, Page 16
‘Port Augusta Sport-Farina’ The Advertiser Wednesday 6 April 1938, Page 16
‘Teacher Appointments’- The Advertiser Saturday 26 December 1936, Page 12
‘Passing By-Mr Pym’- News (Adelaide) Tuesday 21 September 1937, Page 4
‘Races and Ball for Farina Hospital’- The Advertiser Thursday 22 July 1937, Page 9
‘Died Before Pilgrimage’ –News (Adelaide) Tuesday 23 May 1950, Page 2
‘Death of Gool Mahomet’- Chronicle (Adelaide) Thursday 1 June 1950, Page 6
‘Followers of Mahomet-Few now left in Adelaide’-News (Adelaide) Thursday 25 November 1937, Page 6
‘Did Well in the Far North’- The Mail (Adelaide) 3 May 1941, Page 19
‘The Vast, Fantastic, Rich Heart of Australia.-Experiences of Year’s Travel in a Land of Contradictions’ by Lex Noonan-Southern Cross, (Adelaide) Friday 7 April 1939, Page 13
‘Where Australians Bow to Allah-White Wives of Desert Sheiks’ by Ernestine Hill –Northern Standard (Darwin) Friday 7 October 1932, Page 10
‘Aunt Dorothy’s Letter’-Chronicle (Adelaide) Thursday 14 September 1933, Page 63
‘Aunt Dorothy’s Letter-My Letter Bag-Marjan Mahomet, Witchelina, Farina’-Chronicle (Adelaide) Thursday 5 September 1929, page 70