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gibbers

Farina, South Australia

Farina a town in the far north of South Australia. The mean annual rainfall is 163.6 mm, although it is highly variable.

Originally called The Gums, Farina was settled in 1878 by optimistic farmers hoping that rain follows the plough. On the edge of the desert, it is situated on the old aligmnent of the Ghan railway, 26 km north of Lyndhurst and 55 km south of Marree where the Oodnadatta Track and the Birdsville Track commence. The town was the railhead for a time until 1884 before the railway was extended to Marree. During the wet years of the 1880s, plans were laid out for a town with 432 ¼-acre blocks. It was believed that it would be good for growing wheat and barley, however normal rainfall is nowhere near enough to grow these crops.

The town is no longer inhabited, with the closest residents now living at Farina station, visible to the west of the town. The post office closed in the 1960s. In its heyday, the town had two hotels (the Transcontinental and the Exchange) and a bakery. Today nothing but stone ruins and the elevated railway water tank remain of the township. A bush camping area is maintained by the owners of the present-day Farina station.

The town's cemetery is located a few kilometres away via a signposted track. Of interest is the Afghan corner of the cemetery which contains several headstones with both English and Arabic inscriptions, plus several headstones without inscriptions, marking the resting place of former Farina residents of Afghan origin who were involved in or connected to the Afghan camel trains which used to provide transport services before the railway was extended. All the gravestones face Mecca in the Islamic tradition.

A Ballarat Schoolteacher, Rob Olston, has written extensively of this town. His books "Farina.. from gibbers to ghost towns" and "Postmarked Farina" are available through 7 Burnbank street, Wendouree 3350

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