It’s no secret that living in the Australian Outback is a challenge in itself. Despite this, in 1878 a group of optimistic farmers prepared plans to build Farina. Their hopes and chances of success hinged on there being enough rainfall to sustain their crops, sadly, they were wrong. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, their attempt has at least left a lasting legacy, baking beneath the outback sun.
The township itself doesn’t lie all that far from the Ghan, which is a railway route that runs the length of Australia, stopping in various places such as Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Coober Pedy.
Taking a look around Farina reveals a whole bunch of derelict buildings. Most of them are already at ground level, but a few are still standing. Some even have signposts at various points to mark out what each room would’ve been while they were still inhabited. The signs also warn of how fragile the buildings are now, too much weight and you’d risk knocking them down further. In the next picture you’ll notice both the stables and a toilet. Great!
If you think about it, the reason that this whole venture didn’t make it to become a lasting township, was because of the heavy droughts and lack of rainfall in the area. This remains true, despite all the greenery that crops up in these pictures. The vegetation is adapted to these harsh conditions, which allows trees such as the gum to prosper irrespective of the amount of water that is consistently available. On the other hand, crops such as wheat and barley still require water to grow, which explains why this whole operation went “tits up”.
The place itself is actually rather beautiful. Between the bright colours of the desert sand, and the greenery of the trees and shrubs growing nearby you have quite the contrast going on. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere such as this provides an amazing place to just walk around, explore a bit and relax. Don’t stay outside too long though, the houses lack roofing and that means you’ll only have trees for shade.
It isn’t just the shrubs and gum trees surviving out in the desert though, even with the harsh sun there remains quite a wide variety of plants. Granted there’s also a huge variety of different shaped rocks lying around, but that’s got something to do with the farmsteads that once stood here.
Getting to Farina means that you have to travel along the Oodnadatta track, which itself takes you past some pretty amazing landscapes. You can’t imagine how overwhelmingly barren the place feels on a warm day. It helps put our individual significance into perspective to say the least, even more so when you consider that the closest inhabitants now live at Farina Station, itself lying between Marree and Lyndhurst, and over a days drive from Adelaide.
Despite the neglect, there is actually a group aiming to restore Farina, with the aim of preserving some pretty significant outback history. Now, I’m no expert on construction, but I’d say this next photo showcases a restored building. I can’t tell you exactly which building it is (because I don’t know) but it’s looking pretty good. It seems we also owe the ability to identify different buildings to this group, and from what I can see having been there, they’re doing a great job!
Who knows, maybe next time I’m passing by the place will be completely rebuilt. Or maybe someone will have invented much better, more modern irrigation systems to make the place inhabitable once again?