William and Francis Humphreys
Water was discovered in the “Farina Creek” by early pioneers in the 1850’s and became the “Gums” stock watering hole on the major Beltana to Marree stock routes. In July of 1859 this land was taken up by G H Davenport and W Fowler and by 1876 the town land adjacent was leased by Mr A M Woolridge and renamed “Government Gums”. To maintain the water supply Mr Woolridge sent William and Francis Humphries and their daughter Sarah in March the same year to maintain the water holes. The town of Government Gums was later declared on 21st March 1878 and renamed Farina by the Governor of South Australia.
Demands for a railway started to emerge in the city, around the 1870’s to fulfil the carting of ore from the many new mines that were being brought into work and the first stages of this was to be known as the Transcontinental Railway linking Port Augusta to Darwin via Palmerston. The then assistant engineer for the Public works Department a Mr Robert C Paterson declared that the 200 miles of this proposed route into the stony desert would not be satisfactory and decided that Government Gums with its own water supply, could support a railway on this route. This railway was later to be called the “Great Northern Railway”. A tender was later awarded to Barry, Brookes & Fraser during 1877 to construct the railway at a total cost of 533,000 pounds.
At the time it was a great responsibility placed on the Humphreys family to maintain the wells and water holes for the early town and railway.