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What a fantastic weekend we have just completed!

We conducted our review of the Farina Project status, and determined what we should proceed with during the 2017 weeks program.
A significant number of members joined with the committee to carry out a joint inspection of the site, and then met together in Tom’s Shed to determine how we were going to proceed (see images below).

This meeting not only looked at projects, but volunteer resources, safety issues, supplies, allowances for inclement weather etc. – all necessary to ensure that our 8 weeks on site were as efficient and productive as possible, while still ensuring that all members were enjoying themselves and working within their capabilities.

The major project this year will be the replacement of the Patterson building (adjacent to the Bakery, and opposite the Transcontinental Hotel). The building is intended to be used for food preparation and sales, and as an information centre (a training area). Other uses will probably be found for it over time. This is our first new building to be erected in over 100 years, and funding is still required to complete it.

We made use of the people on site to do the initial cleaning up of the Patterson site. Old damaged equipment and household effects that remained after the building burned down were removed, and the broken slate paving (originally used across the front of the building) has now been lifted and stacked adjacent to the building for possible re-use.

Barriers have been erected to keep people off the construction site, and one of the information pergolas has been moved from the existing information area across the road, and placed adjacent to the construction area to describe the purpose of the works, and to request donations where appropriate.

Already in place, and worth checking out are the upgraded walking trails adjacent to the camping grounds. The Northern-most trail passes close to the first Farina settlement on the hillside overlooking the Leigh Creek.

New drone video has just been made available by Jax Kennedy. This is quite a lengthy flight and gives a great insight into the Farina story


The 2017 programme outcomes set new standards in many areas, including volunteer intake, bakery and merchandise sales, archaeological discoveries in structural areas and included technical knowhow in rebuilding Patterson’s house.

The successful completion of the Patterson House to stage 1 lock up was achieved to the satisfaction of the Grants Authorities and all participants. Record volunteer enrolment numbers occurred and thus maximum input hours work were achieved. No days were lost through closures this year.

Excellent financial management of the Patterson’s House grant of $126,000 was achieved with the last payment of $33,000 being received as late as November 2017. There were no cash flow restrictions to any programme activity such as bakery supplies and building materials, many of which require cash payment before delivery. Special contributors to Steve Harding’s Patterson House project need to be congratulated for a fantastic job well done. In particular, I refer to Tim, Leanne and Simon Paine (with his complete set of contracting equipment) who were onsite in excess of 5 weeks. Thanks and congratulations too, to Peter Davis for his project design contribution and his onsite technical supervision.

Stabilisation of buildings continued throughout the programme. Very significant work was done on the old Police Station, the Angels Rest (where a cellar was discovered), the Exchange Hotel where the rooms were excavated and defined by a great group of volunteers and where a second bakery oven was discovered.

The Bell celebration was a seminal event (with bagpipes) this year, as was the cricket match and church service. The cemetery and small cemetery were both cleaned up resulting in a peaceful and beautiful site. As usual a great group of volunteers worked on the streetscape and trails presenting the town in its best light.

Our construction team and the work that they do have allowed us to display the basis of life in our inland township to visitors, to their surprise and delight.

The introduction of high visibility jackets emphasised the extent of our work teams, making them significant to visitors. With the operations centre now at 90% efficiency it already shows the benefit of planned stock control of consumables and control of other equipment and the general workshop efficiency. Additional freezer capacity was installed to assist delivery timing.

Patterson’s House reception centre project is aimed for structural completion to lock upstage during the 2018 programme. The internal fit out will be assessed during the 2018 programme but will require grant funding for completion in 2019.

Over a decade of activity has produced outcomes far beyond expectations. The results are well and numerously expressed in our café visitors book.

Congratulations all.

Within two weeks of the start of the 2017 program, the Patterson site was transformed. In the images below, we can see the work progressing rapidly. These were sent from site on June 8th by Steve Harding (Project coordinator).

The Last Roundup 2017

When we arrived in Farina late on July 18th, we were greeted by Steve Harding and his crew still hard at work on the Patterson building.

As can be seen in the images below, the team has installed some really beautiful stained ceiling timbers inside. Steve tells me that although the matchboard ceiling and insulation won’t be up before the works period finishes, a small team is staying on to complete this the next week.

We’re assured that the ceiling will be installed ABOVE the lovely stained timber work!

The building will have progressed to “lockup” stage by then, and all being well, stage 2 will be erected behind stage 1. (Note the steelwork protruding in the image below, ready to be extended to the new concrete footings.) The existing second fireplace will be dismantled and rebuilt onto the Western wall of stage 2. (A small variation from the original design).

Steve assures me that he’ll provide final photographs on his return from Farina in a couple of weeks.

And finally…

Now, it’s August 3, and Steve has just got his feet on the ground at home in the Adelaide Hills. The man has been away from home for about 10 weeks, and only locked the front door to the Patterson house on August 1st – after nearly 9 weeks of non-stop work at Farina.

Steve has sent us a stack of images of the final progress on site, and over the next couple of weeks will hopefully find time to tell us a little about who helped him over the final couple of weeks of the build. In the meantime, we’re going to have to put our own captions to the images!

Transcontinental Hotel repairs

Although the Exchange Hotel was a major focus in 2017, it was recognised that the Transcontinental was crying out for attention.

One wall, near the front of the building, on the Northern side had developed a dangerous lean to the South. Our masons Peter and Ron advised that if nothing was done immediately, we were in grave danger of the wall collapsing before the 2018 works period.

Both men were asked to take immediate remedial action, (although some thought that this was too little too late), and after spending a full couple of days on it, the wall was proclaimed to be safe – at least until the 2018 session when it would be re-assessed.

Considerable time will be allocated to this building next year, and a large team, similar to the one that worked on the Exchange will be employed.

It’s not widely known that the original plans on which the Transcontinental is based were used to build a dozen or so almost identical Hotels in the North of South Australia. The nearby Craddock hotel (recently beautifully restored by the current owner) is one of them, and pictured below.

One last observation

During my last day on site (July 19th) I was wondering around checking up on the Information shelter plantation with Helen, when I strayed a bit far North (towards the Post Office), finishing up on the site of the original Napier store building. I noted that there were some stonework remains of the building visible on the far South East corner, whereas the other three corners had been replaced by Nitre bushes (Nitraria billardierei is a perennial salt tolerant shrub) that were growing on sand mounds.

It would appear that sand had blown against the remaining stonework, and the bushes had germinated in these (protected) sand piles, whereupon more sand had collected under the protection of the bushes. The bushes therefore would appear to now be marking the outer perimeter of the store building.

On further inspection, I noted some small holes (not unlike those found near the newly discovered Exchange oven), and in an effort to see into the dark shadows in the holes, I resorted to using my camera. The camera could see better than I in the dark! The resulting imagery seems to be pointing to stone footings of the rear wall of the building. Possibly some more investigation at a later date will confirm this!

T model Fords in Farina

Big excitement on Friday 26 June 2017 with the arrival of two vintage “T” model Fords which were on their way to West Australia from New South Wales. A black and cream 1923 delivery van carrying Bobbie and Colin McAuley, and a lovely red soft top 1915, driven by Brian Day from Parkes.

The two vehicles were originally to make the trip by themselves, however at the last minute, Jenny and Roger Moore offered to drive a backup vehicle.

Speeds on “good” roads varied on the way up to Farina from between 50 and 60kph, down to 15 open the rough stuff! Check out the tyres!