Farina 2018, Week 9 With Carol and Russell Monson

Our reporting for week 9 is from husband and wife team Russell and Carol. Russell produces and edits the photographs while Carol chats to the volunteers, produces these reports and also shoots many of the images.

Pack Up – Final Days and Achievements

Linda Haynes and Irene Hobley from Victoria both love outback Australia. Six years ago, en route for Lake Eyre they ‘rushed’ past Farina. It wasn’t until 3 years later, that they just ‘popped’ into Farina and heard Tom Harding talk about his dream. This was to inspire a love of history in young people by using Farina as a starting point with digital resources in a section of Patterson House. Linda, a former teacher, and Irene, a former nurse with compassion for others, were both inspired to come the following year, keeping Tom’s vision in mind.

Linda and Irene have been prepared to do anything and everything for this, their second year on the restoration project. Both were here to see a hessian-bagged wall completed in Patterson House that will be the space where children will use a range of resources to enhance their visit to Farina in the near future.

Steve Harding has been around in this final week to work on the last stages of Patterson House. This is particularly exciting for him and his wife, Patricia, who have been involved for the last six years after hearing the Landline report. They have been putting the final touches of hessian bagging in the second stage of Patterson House.

Steve became the project officer for the Patterson House project after a meeting in 2015. He oversaw research into the original Patterson House title, drew up plans true to the research, arranged for title searches, assisted in raising $162,000. None of this happened overnight because the project involved 6 to 8 months of title searching, development of a family tree, searching for descendants of Evelyn Matilda May Patterson and title transfer to a descendant, Malcolm Brice in Glenelg.

The project work is second nature to Steve who was a contract manager for 38 years working in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide on large projects. It is this project that has seen him come continually back and forwards during each eight week restoration session.

Six and a half weeks ago the second stage of Patterson House was merely a plot of bare soil, now it is at the lockable stage with the ceiling in stage 1 complete and fifty per cent of stage 2 ceiling installed. The project volunteers leave Patterson House for 2018 with Gabian walls installed, stunning slate paving under the verandah roof, pressed metal installed and painted, beading around these walls finished, V boards above the pressed metal complete and a beautiful cedar mantel around one of the fireplaces. Externally all nail holes have been meticulously filled and most walls painted.

Like Tom, Steve has a target that there will be space for young and old to discover more about Farina through information and digital enhancement in Patterson House. This learning centre will eventually contain a flat screen TV, video player and network for computers. The target is that schools will be able to visit. A visit by Emeritus Professor, John Halsey of Flinders University who is involved in rural education has further inspired volunteers to work towards this goal.

Peter Davis, electrical engineer, has worked tirelessly to install wiring that is now linked to an alarm system and video surveillance. This has been incredibly complex given the nature of the environment, working conditions and a tight time frame.

Perhaps a less glamorous part of the project is the huge storage shed and newly attached carport. Derek Sagnol has been a key driver of the work to do this. Derek, from Mortlake in Victoria, a former motor mechanic and general all round multi skilled handyman was on his way to Lake Eyre in 2012 when he was asked to be involved in the restoration project. Since then he has over seen the construction of the mezzanine floor in the shed, maintained generators, built porta toilets on trailers and this year and has been assisted in the last two weeks by Lex Silva.

Derek is committed to the point where he came up in what is called week minus 1, before the 2018 work started, stayed almost three weeks and then has been back in weeks 7,8 and 9. For him the whole project is about meeting new people, contributing to a remote community, and generally enjoying the work and achievements he sees.

Last, but definitely not least, are Janet Jones and husband Bill Brock, from Kingston on Murray. Formerly a fruit grower and vineyard manager for Kingston Estate Wines, Bill is multi talented. Both Janet and Bill have been the chief trouble shooters, roster organisers, go to people for an absolutely enormous range of information; they are the people who have smiled constantly, dealt with all manner of issues, small and large and worked tirelessly at maintaining everyone’s motivation, run the information sessions around an evening campfire and the list is almost endless.

Early in the season Bill and Janet brought along plumber, Jean Pierre Lereau and wife Jan. Bill and Jean Pierre completed the drainage under Patterson House, organised hot and cold water piping and Bill later had to trouble shoot a plumbing issue in the bakery.

Under Janet and Bill’s time the project has seen pointing, repairs and a general tidy up of the post office, repair work on the new police station, and a huge effort put into the Hotel Transcontinental. The hotel now has a steel beam stabilising the front walls; floors cleaned of rubble; slate uncovered in the dining room doorway; excavation done in the kitchen area with subsequent wall development from a rubble of single stones to four or five stones in height; wall in the kitchen now has a clearly defined corner and has been finished with a strong lime mix. The change is such that children could now be asked which room they would choose to sleep in if there was ever a roof on!!!

Much has been achieved during the 2018 restoration season. The personalities you have read about are only those present in the last 3 weeks so recognition for the work must go to all the volunteers over the 8 week period.

Tourists help make it work with their enthusiasm for the project, their purchase of bakery items and other merchandise and of course the generous donations.

Please note:- Our reporters this year were selected from volunteers who responded to our request for capable people who were willing to report our activities during a one or two week period within the eight weeks that restoration operations were in progress.
Their images and text record many of our activities – whether triumphs or disasters – and all are reported from the current reporter’s point of view.