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The Exchange Hotel in 1900/1910

Article supplied by Greg Sadler

Its only in recent times when going through a list of SA publicans I realised the family significance of the town to Grandmother’s earlier story.

There was also some reminiscing by both my mother and grandmother around camel trains and the Afghans, I think there are a couple of photos of them but could have been taken anywhere.

My grandmother (Lena Green) would talk about the Ghan: when the train came in, all the men would hop off and head for a “quick beer” whilst it was loading/unloading.

Three toots and the train would take off with the slow drinkers from the bar running after it – glass in hand.

John Green the publican died there suddenly in 1907 and he is buried in the town cemetery.

I was in Farina about 1977; there was an education Department government school still in use on the outskirts, and the town was still very much complete. A couple of the houses had squatters in them. I called again in 1981 and it had deteriorated substantially by then.

In 1977 the school was a collection of Atco style huts servicing the railway gang families still based there plus local landowners. It was probably several hundred metres along from the old township. I guess it would have closed by 1981 with the re-routing of the Alice Springs line. I can’t remember it being there that year when we called in as we headed up to the Birdsville Track.

The town back then look like it had been dropped straight out of a Hollywood western movie ghost town set, including tumbleweed blowing along the street. There was one major building, I think it must have been the Trans Continental which was still un-vandalised, the front doors were locked, I rubbed the dust off the glass and looked in, and although empty there was one of those magnificent leadlight kitchen cabinets sitting inside on the wooden floorboards.