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Kathy Grant O’Brien with old articles from the Port Augusta Despatch

I have found a number of articles on Farina in old newspapers.

Ted Campbell was my Great Uncle, he and his brother and two older sisters were all born at Farina and lived there until about 1895. As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, one sister was named for the town – Mary Farina Campbell. Aunt Dorothy was an Adelaide journalist who wrote a children’s column. She encouraged her correspondents to raise money for the ‘home for weak-minded children’.

Port Augusta Dispatch June 1878
I am compelled, through humanity’s sake, to contradict your correspondent from Beltana—in paper, dated May 25th – in which he says there are families gathering here every week as fast as places can be erected, which is incorrect, as not one family has arrived here yet. Neither are there four or five hotels going up, besides stores, shops, houses, and cottages, He forgot a theatre. It is evident that the writer is looking out for a Government billet, or he must be interested in the land property there. My reasons for correcting the above-mentioned letter is to prevent families being led to come up here, where there is no employment for them, and where they will have to pay a high price for everything, including firewood, which is 200 per cent dearer than at Port Augusta. 

Evening Journal (Adelaide) August, 1887.
The Shearer’s Strike.
Excitement at Farina.
[By Telegraph.]
Farina, August 31
Some excitement was caused in the township to-day, about thirty shearers from Mount Lyndhurst having arrived on strike. They refused further work yesterday except for £1 per 100.

They were joined here by other Union men, and with flags flying marched through the township, giving cheers for each of the hotels. They have engaged two houses in town and seem to be determined on making a hard fight. It is rumoured that sixteen Beltana men have struck also. About fifty Union men are in the township at present. 

The Port Augusta Dispatch. 
Farina October 10. 1893
C. O’Brien, a shoemaker, residing here, ran amuck this morning. He made three attempts to jump through the window of Mr. Cobbin’s chemist shop, breaking the glass frames. Mr. John Doig, hearing the noise, ran to stop him from doing further damage, but he chased Mr. Doig, calling out, ‘Run if you have any respect for your life.’ Overtaking Mr. Doig he closed with him, and seriously maltreated him with his hands. Several residents came to Mr. Doig’a assistance, and O’Brien was secured and given in charge. He was brought up at the Police Court this afternoon before Messrs. Gray and Napier on two informations and fined 18 shillings, or two months’ imprisonment. The police further charged him with being; a lunatic. On this charge he was remanded to Port Augusta for medical examination.

Farina. Friday March 22 1895
St. Patrick’s day was celebrated here by sports in the afternoon, the trades people having generously granted a half holiday to their employees. A good muster appeared at the recreation ground, and a few interesting events were gone through. The 100 yards men’s race was won by G. Thornton; running high jump, J. Cowan 1, Kite 2; hop, step and jump, Dunn 1, Cowan 2; handicap for boys under 14, C. Telmouth 1, Hunt 2, and handicap for boys of 15 or under, F. Draper and T. Hunt tied, and the stakes were divided; in the 160 yards handicap men’s race ten started, the race being won easily by Jack Dowling, 6 yards. In the evening a concert and social was held. Miss Morris having conceived the idea of getting up an entertainment in which only children should take part, and in which all the items should be all or in part Irish, was ably assisted by Mr Moulds, (our new school master), and be it said to their great credit, the concert, &c., was an unqualified success.

The house was filled a few minutes after the doors were opened, and after a few words of apology from Mr M. C. Morris for the unavoidable absence of Mr. Manfield, who was to have been in the chair, the entertainment began with an overture, “Cead Mille Failte” by Miss Morris and Miss E. Dowling (piano) and Mr Mortomon (violin). This item, which was beautifully rendered, put the audience in the best of humour, which was maintained right through by the children’s pretty singing. “The Green Immortal Shamrock” by RoseChambers, E. Kollens, F. Draper Jessie Napier and Miller Gibson, assisted in the chorus by all the children was exceedingly good. Master Chris Tilmouth was also exceedingly good in ” McCarthy’s Runaway Mare”. Masters J. Campbell as the Irish schoolmaster and A. Draper as his best scholar was very good and amusing, as was also Master E. Campbell in character with “The Hat my Father Wore”. “The Bells of Shandon” was prettily sung by Miss Alice Bowe, as also was “Killarney”. “

The Wearing o’ the Green” by Miss K. Dowling, assisted in the chorus by the children was much liked. Miss Winnie Manfield sang “MollyAsthore” prettily. “Come back to Erin” was first-class by Miss Eva Dowling, whose voice is getting very powerful. Several other items were gone through in a most successful manner. At the conclusion Mr. H. J. McConville in a few well chosen words moved a vote of thanks to Miss Morris and Mr. Moulds which was carried by acclamation. Refreshments were then taken round, and the room cleared and dancing commenced, the hall being again crowded. Miss Morris played in her usual good style, frequently assisted by Mr Morton on the violin. Mr. W. Bowe was chosen M.C. Dancing was kept up until about 3 a.m., when the company separated after spending a most pleasant St. Patrick’s Day

Farina Wednesday, April 17.
Good Friday was spent quietly here except by a few who adjourned to the Racecourse and witnessed some amateur horse racing. Easter Sunday was a remarkably quiet day, but early on Easter Monday everyone was astir, and the demand for vehicles of all description was
great, to proceed to the ground on which it was to be decided whether the blue and white or the red and white were the better team of cricketers. This was only a local scratch match, but interest was imported into it by requesting our two bonit aces(?) to pick two teams already selected by the Committee. Mr Mappison, of the Transcontinental, won the choice and picked the team captained by Mr. A. Wilson, who choose red and white for their colours.

Play commenced soon after 11 o’clock, the red and whites batting first. The innings closed for 121 runs, of which Wilson made 59. The blue and whites in their first innings totaled about 50, of which Rowe made 11 and Roper 12. They followed their innings after lunch, when better stand was made, but they only topped the first innings of the red and whites by 17—leaving the red and whites 18 to win, this was done without the loss of any wickets by Wilson in a few minutes, Curn also carrying his bat with 3 to his credit.

Farina. Friday April 19th, 1895.
Easter Monday.
In the evening a concert was held in aid of the cricket funds, a very good programme being provided. The children opened with the “Song of Australia”, reflecting credit on themselves and their instructors. The singing throughout was very good. Mr. A. Thyer, with the song “The Frenchman,” created some fun, as also did Mr. W. Bowe’s ” Paying Respects to McGuinness”; Mr. Barrett’s “Let me like a Soldier fall” showed his wonderful range of voice; Mrs. Campbell sang “Barney O’Hea” very clearly, Alice Rowe sang “The Rose, Shamrock and Thistle” sweetly but her voice sounded as if she were suffering from a cold; Eva Dowling sang “Bring back my Fisher Boy” with a powerful voice;

Master Chris Titmouth created great fun among the juveniles with “McCarthy’s Runnaway Mate”; the Campbells were very amusing in “Clara Nolan’s Ball,” and “The Hat my Father Wore”, “The Irish Schoolmaster,’ and “Limerick Races” are also to their credit; Mr. Wilson sang ” The Little Hero,” with some feeling. Several other items were gone through by about 10 30 p.m , when the usual vote of thanks was moved by Mr. J. J. Doig, president of the clubA cricketer’s dance was given after the concert. The affair was well attended and kept up til about 1.30 a m.

Chronicle (Adelaide) June 1898
Leigh Creek
Dear Aunt Dorothy,
I intended to write to you a long time ago, but at last have made a start. I have 6 miles to go to school; sometimes I ride and sometimes I walk. I am in the third class and I like my teacher, Mr. Beavis. I have a nice black mare, her name is Daisy. Papa gave her to me when I was 6 years old. She is very quiet, but her foal, Brumby, well deserves his name, for he kicked my brother Jack in the top lip and cut it so badly he had to get three stitches put in. I also have a very good house dog,

Her name is Nell. When she hears Mumma sharpening the knife to cut up the meat she gets very busy all at once and drives the fowls down the creek and then comes back wagging her tail, and barking, as much as to say, ‘I’ve done my work and want my share’. I am very fond of singing. I have sung at several concerts; the last one was at Farina on Saint Patrick’s night. I have one brother and three sisters. The baby is my youngest sister; she is four months old. When she first noticed it was fun to see how she would look at Papa’s black face when he would come home from the coal pit. She would put on a big frown and then laugh and crow.
Dear Aunt, I am writing for a prize.
Your loving nephew,
Ted Campbell. (Aged 13 years)

The Chronicle July 25 1897
Leigh Creek Colliery
Dear Aunt Dorothy
As my brother Ted was so lucky in winning first prize (which we have sent to him, as he is away from home) I thought I would write to you. We came from Farina to here nearly two years ago. I was in the second class then. It is six miles to school and I made a start to go last week. I sing with my brother at the same concerts. I nearly always sing “The hat my father wore.” The audience like it well. But don’t I like the supper after the concert? Plenty of fruit, lollies, and cakes. I had a pet pigeon for two years. I found it dead one morning. It used to go for a fly every day and come home in the evening. I don’t like my pony Brumby since he kicked me, but he is a very pretty little horse. I am enclosing a list which I collected.
Best love to Uncle George.
your loving nephew.
Jack. Campbell.
Aged 11 years and 7 months

Country News Farina, April 30, 1905.
On Easter Monday—which, unfortunately, was the worst day we have had for the year, as dust blew all day—we had sports for the school children, and distributed about £4 in prize money to the winners of the different events. Afterwards the little ones were regaled in Green’s ‘Assembly Room with tea, provided by the ladies of the town.

The Express and Telegraph. Friday 28 July 1899 (One o’clock edition).
The Governor at Farina.
On Tuesday morning the usually quiet town of Farina presented quite a gay and excited appearance. From the south and east came Europeans in their Sunday attire. From the north picturesque aborigines dressed in all the glory of an advanced civilisation, accompanied by their gorgeously-attired gins, and from the east parties of Afghanis in their white-and-gold embroidered vestments hurried in a crooked and irregular line towards the railway-station. An uninterested observer might have concluded that a general exodus was taking place.
However, the importance of the event more than justified the interest displayed. For days before nothing was talked of in local circles but the coming visit of Lord and Lady Tennyson.

At 10 o’clock punctually, the vice regal train glided swiftly into the station. The school children, under the superintendence of Mr. Grewar, were drawn up in front of the waiting-room, while the aforementioned natives, marshalled by Mounted-Constable Gardner, stood erect in long lines. Directly the train drew up the National Anthem burst from the throats of the children, while the male spectators loyally removed their hats in honor of the representative of her Majesty.

A little time elapsed before Lord and Lady Tennyson, accompanied by the Railways Commissioner (Mr. Pendleton),and the General Traffic Manager Mr. McNeill, stepped, from the viceregal car. Three hearty cheers for his Excellency were given, after which Lord and Lady Tennyson thanked the children for their singing and were introduced and chatted pleasantly with various local celebrities.
Lady Tennyson was then presented to each of the regular line of awe stricken, gins and gallantly shook hands with them, while his Excellency conversed with the dusky warriors.

At this juncture the children struck up the “Song of Australia,” and rendered it excellently. Time was now up, and his Excellency, after thanking the children for their singing, and bidding good-bye to the townsfolk, entered the vice regal car.

In a few seconds the train was on its way towards Oodnadatta to the accompaniment of ringing-cheers. Our local correspondent informs us that “Lord and Lady Tennyson are now talked of with passionate regard, the natives, being just as enthusiastic as the whites.
One old warrior, “King Billy,” innocently enquired as the train was thundering over the bridges towards, its northern destination, “What for him put that lookin’ glass in him eye?”

The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide) 1910
Farina, January 4.
Great excitement was caused by the arrival of Mr. D. Brown’s team with a meteorite, weighing 33 cwt., aboard. The meteorite will be dispatched for Adelaide on Wednesday.

The Register Friday 29th April 1910
Our Farina correspondent wrote on Tueday:—’Few resident of this town had any idea on Sunday evening that anything unusual was occurring, some heard a faint rumbling noise, but did not attribute it to anything so serious as an earthshock until news afterwards came from Leigh Creek of a severe shock there. A curious incident occurred at that time, a few minutes before 8 p.m. all the birds— cockatoos, galas, crows— who had long settled down to roost in the gumtrees in the creek, rose suddenly en masse in the air with frightened shrieks, and appeared to be much agitated and excited.’ Our Second Valley correspondent wrote on Tuesday: ‘This morning, at about 6.30, the heavy rumbling of an earthshock was heard. The vibration was from north-east to south west, and its duration was about 35s. The shock was more pronounced than the one last year.

The Chronical
FARINA, January 26, 1906
Tuesday last was the hottest day on record in this district, the heat in the Observatory shelter box being 118 degrees.

In the business establishments and private dwellings it reached 128 degrees. A cool change arrived in the evening, with a strong south wind, and the weather has been fairly cool since.

There were over 200 camels watering at the Government well at Farina to-day. While at the well, two of the camels had a fight. One had its jaw broken and will have to be destroyed. Camels when fighting often kill one another before they can be separated.

Southern Cross. Adelaide. Friday 22 May 1936.
A Northern Landmark Disappears
A well-known landmark disappeared from the Far Northern landscape when the Church of St. Brigid at Farina was recently dismantled, and conveyed in motor lorries to Murraytown—a distance of about 220 miles —where it is now in course of re- erection. This Church had the distinction of being the most northern Catholic Church in the State, and its removal is an indication of the sad plight of the Far North, and its gradual de-population. The work of dismantling was carried out under the supervision of Father Clune of Hawker, who was accompanied by Father Conway of Booleroo Centre, in whose parish the Church will be re-erected.

The Church was visited by the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev .Dr. Gilroy, when he made his pastoral visitation of the parish of Hawker last October. His inspection coincided with a very severe sandstorm, and Farina itself, looked the picture of desolation where every home had its own private sand hill; and banks of sand, in some places three feet high, lay across the streets. His Lordship was very impressed with the little Church, and as there were only two Catholics left in the township, he promised to consider the scheme put forward by Father Clune for its removal to a more populous centre.

The recent transfer of the Church has been the outcome of this promise, and the parishioners of Murraytown are fortunate indeed, in being chosen by His Lordship, to give a home to the shrine of St. Brigid. We can only hope that they will prove worthy of the choice. The building was erected about thirty-nine years ago, and was a substantial structure of wood and iron, its dimensions being 35*x 25 x 12. It was designed by the late Dr Norton, Bishop of Port Augusta, when he was Vicar General of the Diocese and erected by Mr. Laragy, contractor, of Hawker A glance at the plans and specifications, in the hand writing of the late Bishop, is clear proof that he was well acquainted with the severe weather conditions of the North, and that he intended to build a Church that would stand up to those conditions.

No detail appears, to have been omitted from the specifications, which are contained in twelve pages of closely written foolscap. The Church was in a splendid state of repair. For thirty-nine years it has withstood the fierce winds and heat of the North, and the almost daily sand storms of recent years, while other buildings in the township have been unroofed at various times. It was a monument to the foresight and efficient workmanship of the contractor.

One does not, as a rule, associate beauty with a wood and iron structure, but the interior of St. Brigid’s was a revelation in this regard. It was lined and ceiled with great taste, and had nice appointments. When one gazes at Farina to-day, with its straggling houses, its dwindling population— fourteen people have left there during the last week—its sand and sandhills, one finds it hard to believe that it was an important place when the Church of St. Brigid was built.

Your correspondent interviewed Mr. Laragy who was the contractor, and who is still hale and hearty notwithstanding the passage of the years. He described Farina as being a ‘lively place” in those days. There were two halls to cater for the amusement of the inhabitants, and two hotels to dispense good cheer. Teamsters and drovers kept the place busy, money was plentiful, although wages were not at the high level of to-day, and everyone appeared to be happy.

What a change has come about!! Farina has certainly fallen on evil days! One wonders if the late Bishop, with his uncanny foresight, did not see such a change when he erected a wood and iron building at Farina? With the exception of Bendleby, it is the only structure of its kind in the Diocese. All the other Churches are of stone. And so passes an old landmark from the Far North. Our sorrow at its going is mitigated bv the knowledge that it will be of service to the parishioners at Murraytown, and that they will cherish it, because of its Patron, and its old associations. May we express the wish that they will remember in their prayers the grand old pioneers, Bishop, priests and people who helped to build and maintain it?. (See image below) Note: the building is now located in Goolwa SA, operating as a B&B – Ed.