No. 35 – Weeks 1 and 2)

For the early weeks of May the first fortnight’s group of over 30 enthusiastic seniors enjoyed the physical and social activities associated with restoring the history, stabilizing the buildings and maintaining the town of Farina for us and other travellers to enjoy.  We had the most wonderful team and it was great meeting up again with old friends and getting to know the many new volunteers interested in the Farina project.

This year we had a magnificent, new, custom designed mobile bakery caravan – 30’ of state-of-the-art calorie making machine.

Fear not, we haven’t compromised the authenticity of baking in the 103 year old underground bakery and scotch oven, but to satisfy health regulations and enable the bakers to meet the unbelievable demand, we needed a more efficient preparation setup and facility for baking smaller delicacies.

We had a timely visit from a South Australian Health Officer the first week and got a big tick of approval.

Our bakers are volunteers who have retired from baking but love to come up and have ‘a play’.  Each baker comes for a week and bakes his own special preferences as well as the usual bread, buns, sausage rolls, pies and pasties.  Thus we are treated to croissants, custard tarts, hedgehog slice, bacon and egg pies, iced finger buns, muffins, scones etc.  Where else would you get a 15” fat pastie for $12?  The café and information desk was very busy in the two and a half weeks we were there.

Of equal importance was the wonderful effort put in by our construction team and maintenance people.  During this time, the construction crew renovated the toilet block in the campground with the station owner, Kevin Dawes.  More notice boards were erected near the walking trail and a large pergola and double notice board installed near the bakery.

The group is very fortunate to have the skills of volunteers who are welders, builders, electricians and plumbers just to mention a few trades.  The efforts of everyone who comes are put to good and varied uses and are very much valued.  The walking trail was cleared and 5 new sleeper seats and 2 picnic tables were installed along its path.  It is a very beautiful and easy walk.

The regular maintenance clearing around the police station and Transcontinental Hotel was also undertaken and much painting of notice boards was done.

The site was prepared in the rail precinct, for the positioning of a cattle truck which arrived on the first Monday of the second fortnight.  Also, an updated inventory and stocktake of the group’s equipment and supplies was undertaken.

During the first week we enjoyed the company and labours of 4 work experience students from the Leigh Creek Area School, who were brought up daily by their technical studies teacher, Colin.  The boys were involved in all areas of activity on the site and were a pleasure to have with us.

We were also visited by Ben Boothby, the Project Officer for Flinders Ranges and Outback South Australia Tourism Commission.  Ben stayed overnight and left the following day having been actively involved in the erection of the bakery information pergola.  He spoke to our group at happy hour. He was very enthusiastic and positive and keen to widely promote the Farina project.

Our stonemasons arrived week 2, so volunteers set about pointing for them.  Ron comes up daily from his home in Copley and Peter comes and stays in the shearers’ quarters.  Some of our volunteers love the stonework aspect of the project and try to time their stay for when the stonemasons are here.

Each Wednesday evening a camp roast was put on for the volunteers and the station owners, Kevin and Anne, join us.  They very kindly donated shoulders of lamb for our roast in the second week.  Apart from enjoying the eating, the smell of the cooking all afternoon wafting through the camp was wonderful.

All volunteers were rostered around the different domestic, camp maintenance and bakery café and information desk duties.  It is a pleasure to have such positive and enthusiastic people.  There were lots of laughs and joking around, sharing of stories and experiences.  Everyone had plenty of spare time to do their own sightseeing of the area and visit the metropolises of Leigh Creek and Marree.

Volunteers were able to view Kevin cattle mustering on one day and to join with him on a 4WD station tour the next.

A definite highlight of the stay was the emergence of some musicians among us. Newcomers, Noel and Virginia Robinson played the ukelele and lagerphone and accompanied Peter Cram playing his guitar.  We all sang along to old favourites during the daily 5pm happy hour around the fire.  Peter has been coming for some years and we didn’t know he was a closet entertainer.  He wrote the terrific song that is printed with this newsletter and which captures wonderfully what we are all about.

Bron and Barry Jacquier