July 18, 2009

The Postie Challenge - Part Two

Fresh vegetables. I have a craving for fresh vegetables. The Australian desert is not a place that is kind to accessing fresh veggies. Oh how I desired something colourful, crisp and cooked after eating in the outback. I recall one particular stop at a servo where everyone bought a sausage roll or a pie. I spotted some capsicum in a window and bought one. I looked a funny site with everyone eating their pastries around me while I tucked into a whole red capsicum. It wasn't bad actually although I was aware that it had most likely travelled half the continent to get to that servo shelf. Oh well someone had to eat it, so it may as well be me. Unfortunately that was pretty much the extent of fresh veggies for me. So now I am making up for it. Bigtime.

Throw into a frypan whatever you like. I sliced a whole red capsicum, a handful of sugar snap peas, 2 shallots, 1/2 red onion, 1/2 golden zucchini and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute this for about 2 minutes or till done to your liking. Mix together 3 eggs and 1/2 cup cream. Swirl on top of the veggies. Cook till almost done. Scatter with some tasty cheese and grill till just melted. Eat while hot, either straight from the pan or cut into slices. Hook in. No table manners required today.

The Postie Ride - Part Two

With Nikka heading out in front of us we followed her down the road, only realising until it was too late we had actually passed the turnoff we should of taken. With my two kids riding on obliviously, Hubby lost the plot and began roaring down the road behind them beeeeeeeping incessantly. With two loose kids on the road and a loose cannon behind them I was too stressed to take a picture. Thankfully they heard us and pulled over. After a rant, Hubby ordered Mitch to be the lead rider so back we went to the "proper" turnoff. Phew!

I took pictures out of the car window and although bumpy, I managed to capture some nice shots along the Flinders Ranges.

Twenty kilometres into the drive the gravel became very loose and treacherous. About ten vehicles had passed us at this stage and I began to worry about the kids maintaining their control. My worst fears were confirmed when we entered a sharp bend and I literally saw Nikka skid infront of us and lose control. The bike swayed and veered onto the wrong side of the road and she ploughed into the embankment. I literally saw her head bounce onto the ground. She sat up and stayed put for a while, then steadily stood up. Thank goodness. She had gravel rash and scratches on her hip and thigh but fortunately she said she felt okay. She said she really felt like the helmet supported her head well so that was a relief.

Damage to the bike was a pushed in head light and a broken brake light. A quick repair job ensured the brake light worked again but the headlight was kaput. Fortunately it was daytime. The damage was also evened up a bit because Dee had come off his bike on day one and had sustained damage on the left hand side of the bike. Gosh these little posties are tough. They have to be!!

Nikka was feeling a little shaky so Dee reclaimed his jacket, put on his helmet and rode this last little bit. Such a shame. Nikka was doing really well. We gave her lots of praise and encouragement but I think she did feel disappointed for not reaching the next town. She certainly wasn't the first to come off and she certainly would not be the last. Well done Boo Boo!

Crikey! I think the Borb thought he was going to remain lead rider and in his eagerness to head off the tricky gravel almost claimed him too.

Not so fast buddy! I think Dee can lead this last little bit. There. I can breathe again now.

The last few kilometres before reaching Parachilna where we hoped we'd arrive before the postie group.

Go Mitchy!

Keep it up!

Nearly there mate!

We were mortified to reach Parachilna to find everyone there, refreshed and rested and ready to begin the next leg. Dee raced into the pub, bought drinks for us, jumped on his bike and off he went. The organisers of the group were very relieved to see us because we had taken so long to get there. Those little hiccups along the way together with a very late start ate more into our time than we had realised. Hubby grabbed his jacket and helmet off Mitch and took off. We jumped into the car hardly feeling rested. Oh well. Them the breaks.

I gave my camera a rest at the next stop which was a place called Leigh Creek. We didn't really like it. It was a strange place; like a village with cars in driveways, signs of people and yet we saw absolutely no one. Mitch and I went for a walk and there was total silence. Not a car on the roads, a person in sight or a dog barking. No television noises. Nothing. All the houses appeared the same and it felt very sterile. I was glad to leave. Nikka was sitting down feeling a bit nauseous. She was getting sorer as the day went on. She managed a sleep in the car while we drove onto the next place called The Farina Ruins. At least this place had an interesting name.

The road was as dusty as ever and we had to travel with the windows up. A couple of hours into the drive and we turned off the main road. There was nothing but rocks and gravel and dirt ahead. Where the hell were we going? This was going to be our camp for the night and I was filled with dread. All of sudden the remains of buildings were dotted on the landscape as we drove closer to the campsite. Just before we reached our destination we passed what appeared to be the remains of a whole town. Gosh. This was fascinating. I couldn't wait to reach camp and then come back to explore all these ruins. I was really excited.

This place was amazing. I have inserted an article on the Farina Story. It is an interesting read and I am really glad we had this experience.

Farina: In the Outback region of South Australia

"The old ghost town of Farina is 26 kilometres north of Lyndhurst and it’s a reminder that nothing remains the same. The remains of the old houses hark back to the days when families gathered around the fireplace on winter nights while the cold winds blew down from the Stzelecki and Simpson Deserts.

It was just one of many homes established following the proclamation of the town in 1878. Originally known as Government Gums the name was later changed to Farina. Until 1884 it was the last stop on the Great Northern Railway Line. Kevin Dawes, the current manager of Farina Station explains:

“The early pioneers had this notion that the rain followed the plough and they thought, according to that logic, that if they got a railway here bringing wheat farmers to the district this could become the great granary of the north. Hence the name Farina - it's Latin for flour. But, there's not a wheat crop in sight.”

With the benefit of hindsight, it all seems rather absurd. But anyone who visited area following the big wet of 1974 would understand how the explorers and settlers overestimated its potential.

“I suppose those early explorers didn't know what the rainfall was like in this country and if they come up here in 74 or something like that (they would think) you could grow anything. They had the notion that the rain would follow the plough - but no rain followed.”

While the wheat and barley crops failed, Farina flourished as the railhead for The Great Northern Railway until the line pushed through to Maree and then Alice Springs. Stockman would bring cattle from Innamincka and Birdsville and Oodnadatta and Afghan cameleers would bring a new name to one of Australia's great railway lines.

Soon passengers on the Afhan Express or Ghan as it became known, would stop for a beer and a night's accommodation at the Transcontinental.

“The old pub had quite a few rooms in its day and each had it's own fireplace. In later years this apparently it was turned into a hostel offering accommodation for people coming off the trains and that.”

Kevin Dawes stood and admired an old tank stand which is a vital part of the Farina story:

“All the trains in those days were steam trains so they needed water so there are tanks like this all the way from here to Oodnadatta - up along the old Ghan line.”

The sign at the main intersection of the old town tells another tale of high hopes. At one point there were plans to establish 432 quarter acre house blocks on the salt bush and rocky plains of Farina.

But the plan failed due to the lack of water. The underground supply proved too salty and better water was found at Maree. By the 1930s Farina was on its last legs and by the early 60s the Post Office was closed. But as you wander around the ruins there are still one or two gems to be found. Kevin pointed out what was once an underground bakery:

“This is the old oven where they used to bake the bread and buns. Someone's pinched the door but you can still see where the baker had his long pole and dragged the bread out. That's the fire box where they stoked the fire up for it.. There's the old flue - it still works.

“This bakery supplied the town with bread and buns back in the 1890s. In later years they stopped using the bakery they found it to be a nice cool spot in the summer. So they put flywire and they used to hang the meat up on rails. They’d store meat here right through summer.”

For Kevin, it's just another reminder of a place that went from boom town to ghost town.

“I reckon it's the forgotten town of the outback. When they first settled here they had big ideas about making this the granary of the north and it was going to be as big as Hawker or something like that and it never happened. A lot of people lived here and lot have moved on and a lot died here.”

And at the back of town, with Termination Hill in the distance, is the last resting place for the pioneers and Afghan cameleers and their families who helped make Farina an important staging post and railway town - for a while at least. "

This place oozed with history and awe. Being an avid foodie that I am I particularly enjoyed checking out the bakery. If I had lived here at that time, the bakery was definitely a place I would have come to regularly.

Nikka took heaps of photos of sleepers and the remains of the Old Ghan rail line so I'm hoping she has taken some good shots.

We had a long day filled with highs and lows. I was looking forward to a good sleep but a very cold night lay in store and some fellas that had too much to drink were yahooing and singing into the wee hours of the morning. Well I guess that is all part of this outback adventure. I wondered what the day ahead would bring. Would it be as eventful as the day before? No drama? Yes, no drama would be great. Just who did I think I was kidding.



  1. Again the photos are stunning. What a trip! Read on Mc duff!!!!!!

  2. Seriously entertaining writing, Mama.
    I couldn't help but laugh at Mitch riding on the postie. He's such a clown.

    My favourite photo is the one of "Twelfth St". I can't imagine it'd have looked too different from "Thirteenth St".

    I am once again, eager for part three.

  3. Haha, well Riss likes 12th st aswell,
    I think it's a hit ma!
    Nicka xx

  4. Hello,
    Really enjoyed the photos and stories. The landscape has an erie magic of it's own. It's amazing how the buildings of the ghost town are intact. I would of though that mother nature and time would be obliged to obliterate any sign of human existence.

    I would like to locate (on a map) the area where you were travelling. For reference points, what were some of the larger communites that you travelled through?


  5. Oh you a such a confidence booster for me Linda; thanks for your remarks about the photos.

    Well you would of laughed even harder in 'real' life Issy. I think he was fairly cautious, with his eyes fixed on the road ahead the whole time. Apart from the near spill above he did really well. I can't believe you like that photo best - because I was very fond of it too. Yes it does conjure up lots of possibilities doesn't it. I really enjoyed the old bakery though. It was still pretty much intact. I loved it. I loved it all.

    Hurray. I nailed an image that you decided to overlook. You are teaching me lots Nikka and you don't even realise it.

    Hello Diane. Glad you are enjoying our trip. Gee, "eerie" is an excellent word. Yes, spot on. Considering the harshness of the Australian outback, yes you are right - amazing any of it is still standing.
    I looked up a fairly basic world map of Australia and found 'Marree' as the closest major town near the Farina Ruins. We visit Marree in my next post. The community there now is miniscule compared to the community that existed 100 years ago. I guess I am trying to say there are no 'major' communities anywhere out here. I don't think many people today want to live that isolated and do it that tough unlike our pioneers.