Peter Ferry About Wartime Aircraft at Farina
I would like to tell you about an aircraft refuelling stop at Farina in 1944. At the time I was attached to “Test and Ferry Squadron” at Bankstown in NSW.
Our main task was to ferry aircraft all over Australia and New Guinea. I had just returned from a trip to Darwin taking Spitfires there. The next task was to ferry 3 De Haviland Dragons (look them up on the net) to be used in the Darwin area as Air Ambulance aircraft in support of pilots who may have been shot down or forced to land in remote areas, to bring them back for medical treatment.
I selected two RAF spitfire pilots to come with me on the journey. We collected the aircraft in Deniliquin NSW and first flew to Mildura, then on to Broken Hill. After ascertain there was fuel at Farina I decided to land there on the way to Oodnadatta.
On checking my Flying Log book, the date was the 7th September, 1944. We landed on a clay pan alongside the railway line. (I can remember seeing some clay tennis courts on one side. Unfortunately I have no record of the names of the husband and wife who greeted us from a large S.A. stone house.
The husband located the fuel in 44 gal drums which were partly covered by drift sand. We manhandled them onto and old buckboard and took them down to the aircraft where we them onto and old buckboard and took them down to the aircraft where we hand pumped the fuel into the Dragons, taking care with filtering and later bleeding the aircraft tanks for possible water contamination.
While this was going the, gracious lady of the house had made a big batch of scones which she served up with home made jam and several cups of tea.
After take off, we showed our appreciation by a bit of low flying. Unfortunately, the exuberant Clarrie Harker (who came from Newcastle on Tyne) took away the telephone line between the overland line and the house.
We then proceeded on to Oodnadatta, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and then Darwin. The whole journey gave these English pilots an opportunity to see the real outback. We had many other adventures along the way. Shortly after this I was posted to No 21 Squadron, heavy bombers (Liberators).
On our return to Sydney, we purchased a handbag and sent it to the gracious lady of Farina, partly in thanks for the scones, and partly to make up for destroying their telephone line. I hope she received the parcel.