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June 1st
Arrived at Farina – checked in, (registered with security for insurance cover etc.) – all in time for our very first campfire “happy hour” where new friends are made, old acquaintances renewed and the daily problems on site are sorted. New tasks are allocated and discussed, and when the food and drinks have run out, everyone retires to their own accomodation.

(Sorry Rosalie, had to introduce you! … Ed)

June 2nd
Today’s big project was erecting the frames for the second half of the Patterson house. The team put in a massive effort worked and worked solidly all day to get the walls up ready for the next stage of the project.

Bakery trade has been strong, with most visitors taking the time to have a good look around while they’re here.

Work is also underway on the Transcontinental, with the current focus points being one of the back walls and part of the facade.

The crazy time lapse show below is the action on the Patterson site on the morning that the wall framing went up. Don’t you wish we could all build this fast?

June 3rd 
Today was a quiet day – (being Sunday), for other than for those on in the bakery. A couple of options were offered for those who wished – a tag along tour of Farina Station with Anne Dawes, and lunch at Marree.

The property tour was taken up by several carfuls and highlighted the amazing diversity of this environment. Anne’s commentary covered a broad range of topics and helped give an understanding of operating a pastoral business and maintaining stock. She also covered some of the native plants & wildlife, as well as the amazing geological features we saw.

June 4th
The main project on progressing at the moment is the Patterson house, but there are still several other smaller jobs on the go. Some of the maintenance tasks underway are on the cattle trucks, repainting the wooden signs around Farina, (the red lettering was fading, and against a dark background was difficult to read) – completing the first aid room, making some of the merchandise sold in the bakery, installing a new generator, and improvements in Tom’s Shed.

There are plenty of busy volunteers spread around the site working away at these tasks, as well as keeping their eyes open for jobs that need to be added to the list.

The bakery continues to be a major drawcard, with peak times leaving car parking at a premium. The phone signal has also been a huge hit, with volunteers and visitors alike making the most of it.

June 6th – Patterson House
Stage 2 of the Patterson House is the main project this season. Work has been progressing really well, with lots of action from the ground up on a whole range of trades and skill levels. With builders on site, some minor adjustments have been made to the framing ahead of starting the task of putting roof trusses in place.

Other work around the house has included the jigsaw puzzle that is the slate paving under the verandah. Ron is in charge of this job and the progress shows he’s training his volunteer helpers well.

The Patterson House is on track to becoming an exceptional facility for showcasing Farina, its history, and the future it has thanks to the Restoration Group.

June 7th – The underground Bakery
Today I thought I’d feature the bakery, a real drawcard for Farina. Its reputation for exceptional baked goods is well deserved, and the daily takings are increasing each day. These funds, along with the generous donations received, are vital to the work of the group and get put straight back in towards the restoration work.

In addition to the team’s bakers, this year a baker from Burra visited for a couple of days and helped out, as well as turning some sour dough starter into the best ciabatta (and pizza) I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat.

The underground bakery isn’t just popular for what it produces, most visitors jump at the chance to see inside and hear a bit about its history, design and operation.

June 8th – Stonemasonry from Jeanette Arnold
A day as a volunteer stone mason at Farina is back breaking work with very slow results for your labour. Therefore it is surprising that every morning it was a pleasure to go to work to search for the perfect rock to fit into the perfect hole. One rock at a time the wall of the Transcontinental Hotel was raised, the shape of the fallen window replaced and the room’s walls capped to save from future erosion. Photo evidence taken on iPhones shows the pride taken in restoring a small part of Farina for future generations.

Reflections on Farina

Home again, after a truly fantastic week. Farina is reasonably familiar territory to me, I have been visiting the area since I was a child and I have been following the work of the Restoration Group online for some time. Only one of my visits to the area has fallen within a restoration season previously (and the bakery was the first point of call when that happened!), so while I have seen the fruits of their labour, it took a while before I saw the volunteers in action.

When I saw the call go out for photographers to help record this year’s season, it was a chance too good to miss out on. The timing was right and it was something good to look forward to during my recovery from cancer treatment. It was a real privilege to be involved, even if only as an observer. The work achieved each year is phenomenal, but it is all done with good humour, friendship and generosity.

The volunteers I was there with were an amazing group of people. Wide ranging in ages and skills, this diverse group from all over the country shared a common passion in Farina. There was a strong, shared drive to stabilise the remains of buildings, to restore and renew where possible, and to bring the history of the town back to life. For a small town, Farina was a vital community in its day. The number of visitors who had a connection with Farina, or who had read about its importance and wanted to visit was incredible.

Yes, they were quick to take advantage of the delicious bakery produce, but the history was also a massive drawcard.

Since arriving home I have been going through the photos I took. Mostly they are of the volunteer work, but Farina is a beautiful place and has many great locations when you’re armed with a camera. For my last submission, I thought I’d choose some of the photos that focus on the people and on the beauty of Farina, rather than the work taking place.