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Excavations And Repair of The “Old” Police Station

In view of the perilous state of the remaining Eastern wall of the “Old” police station, it was decided to excavate and stabilise that site this year as a matter of urgency. Incidentally, the first police station in Farina (1874) consisted of a tent, located on a rocky hill near the creek. (possibly near the now ANZAC memorial site) with this being replace by the above “Old” station in 1894, which was itself replaced by the “new” station located near the Cricket ground to the North East.

The “New” station was built in 1935 and has since also had more restoration work done on it this year. In 1950 the Leigh Creek flooded the building under 3 feet of water and 3 months later the building was abandoned because of damage to it’s foundations.

Excavation of the “Old” station proved to be a most interesting task, as a number of artefacts were uncovered. The biggest find was a cast iron stove (or heater) that was set into a normal chimneyed fireplace. The stove had been built by A. Simpson and Son of Adelaide.

A number of the side panels appeared to be broken, although the door appeared to be in one piece. We understand that Mike Witcher had taken it off site and is hoping to restore it to it’s former whole self before replacing it into the building.

One rather interesting find was a cylindrical void in the covering deep clay/sand that housed a significant number of bottle corks (that were in quite reasonable condition). It looks as if they had originally been in a tin can which with time had completely rusted away.

At the far Western end of the building we found a wooden door lying under the sand. The door appears to be a cell door, since it features a hole the size of a tennis ball at eye level (an observation hole). At the end of work for the year, the door still remains on there ground as found by volunteers.

Large mounds of rocks, originally par of the building walls have been left stacked on the Northern side as a reminder of what was.

Maintenance on the Railway Cottages

Some work had previously been done on the settlers cottage, but is currently incomplete. More work to stabilise walls is now required, so this small party visited the building in January 2016 to enable plans to be formulated for further work in the 2016 program. Aerial images kindly supplied by Paul Coombes.

The three images relating to stormy weather were by noted photographer Lydia Strutton. These are the sort of storms that made the first couple of weeks of the 2016 season so interesting.

During weeks 3 and 4 (June 12 – 25), following the inspection in January, volunteers moved in to work on the external pointing of the lower wall areas. Obviously there were days when work was very slow because of rain (at one stage Farina was cut off from the outside world for 5 days), but the externals now look like new!

Work has begun on the internal walls, and is expected to be completed within the next couple of weeks.

(Images by Martin MacLennan)

The Bakery And Surrounds

(Images by Martin MacLennan)

Revegetation Trials

Last year we began a trial to see if we could re-generate some of the (very) sparse vegetation that originally existed around the town.
Old photographs showed that during the life of the original settlement, virtually all vegetation had either been removed, or eaten by goats, rabbits, or ‘roos etc.

A small number of (mainly) acacias were planted, mulched with found rocks and protected by wire mesh – both above ground and below. A small water maximisation scheme was used, with underground PVC pipes fed from the adjacent information pergola.

So far all of the plants appear to be doing well, and we now expect that we’ll be able to begin removing guards next year. By then the plants should be well and truly capable of fending for themselves!

Cemetery And Camp Grounds

Heavy rain softened the ground for Jo MacLennan and Gwenda Viaina when they tackled weeding the cemetery plots. The result is (until the sun comes out and new weeds rapidly germinate) impressive. (Ladies – there’s a job in the garden here waiting for you! – ed.)

As can be seen in the images below, the camp ground is looking lovely and green in the early morning light (photographed from the ANZAC memorial hill).

Kevin Dawes has built a new park, a little to the North East of the existing park (just downstream, and also on the banks of the Leigh Creek). During the annual works period this new park will be reserved for the volunteer workers, however at other times it will be available for hire as with the existing park.

More info and images will follow by mid July. Images by Martin MacLennan

Tom’s shed – the celebration and fit-out

It’s been a long time coming, the shed we’re all admiring –
Two years of planning meetings, then submissions for the drawings.
Financial grants and budgets, meant quite a few to thank,
So Tom and Steve shelved their plans to try and rob a bank.

The green light came at last and materials were sorted
The committee could relax for once – everything’s in order!
The ship was steady, straight on course – what could possibly go wrong?
In terms of modern parlance all the parts were right “on song.”

Foundations, steel and concrete, were duly set in place
And the floor did gleam and shine from lavish coats of paint.
String lines were strictly followed: no sloppy workmen here – then walls and roof
Were finished and they all let out a cheer.

The fit-out’s right on schedule – Tom’s Shed’s nigh full with gear
Plus baker’s store and cold-room; who thought we’d ever have them, especially way up here?
Dimensions were discussed, measurements then gauged, and as the toil increased, men began to age.
Lex was 6 feet 9 when he first started here, now he’s 6 feet 3 and sobbing in his beer.

Kaniva Bob the Sparky yelling orders from on high;
Way up on the scaffold to some poor, scared little guy.
Yet, Bob still had the cheek to stick a sign on overalls,
That claimed his back could fire 1,000 volts clean through a wall.

Steve Harding disappeared one sunny afternoon, but located sound asleep inside the storage room.
Stretched out across three bags of flour, pastry at his feet,
Head resting on the coconut like an innocent abroad – he almost got away with it
But bad luck Steve, you snored!!

They hunted down a hacksaw cur (dastardly cunning thief) who tried to spin a yarn about how it
cleaned his teeth! A likely story said the boss, you’ve blown your reputation, and that of every
chippy who’s at Farina Station.

Lastly but not least, the baker Laurie Gray who kept his team of slaves from running far away.
Maybe now they’ve proved themselves, he’ll let them up the stairs
To breathe clean air and see the sky, if only Laurie cared!!

(Above words by Lorraine Short)

Images below…Tom and Joan cut the cake to officially open the new shed. (photographs by Laurie Gray)

End of works 2016

Well, all good things must come to an end it seems, and so after a most successful season (even the rain and partial flooding added interest without causing too much hardship), we needed to decide where to halt unfinished projects, pack up our tools, and say goodbye to fellow travellers. And so to the final gathering in front of the Transcontinental to share drinks and front up for photographs prior to packing personal belongings ready for the long trip home.

Tom’s new shed has been a real boon insofar as the shutdown procedure is concerned. All machinery and “rolling stock” is now secure and under cover. The marque is packed up and in storage, and Kevin and Anne don’t have it all cramming their homestead sheds.

The images below cover the dismantling and stowage of the marque, and moving the catering van into storage. Note that it’s a very tight squeeze for the van, with only about 15mm clearance between the van top and the shed door.