So after leaving the always beautiful area of Merty Merty, we headed south down the iconic Strzelecki track. Gone are the days when it was narrow and rough, these days roads trains constantly use the ‘track’ ( really its as wide as a freeway and just as smooth ).
With the magical Flinders Ranges in view we skirted across the northern side ( as we’ve spent time there already ) across to the Outback Highway and headed northward.
Along the way the old ruins begin to show and the huge coal mines north of Copley. Coal was found here back in 1888 and it was continually mined till around 2005 where hundreds of people were employed and massive amounts of both black and brown ( low grade ) coal was mined. The mines are a sight to see as for miles and the waste can be seen in huge piles.
Stopping up the road at the Ochre Cliffs the colours are truely beautiful. The local Kuyani Aboriginal people used this quarry to mine the Ochre for their ceremonial body painting and for other decorations. They traded Ochre here with other groups all around the district.
One place I’ve always wanted to wander is Farina not far further north. This place is mind-blowing with the amount of ruins both as relics and others being restored to some degree.
There once was a town with a population of around 600 people but it collapsed when the copper and silver mine closed in 1927. Today its located on Farina Station, and every year volunteers spend several weeks piecing back together the old town.
Camping is allowed nearby at the Farina Campgrounds with great facilities and accommodation in the Shearer's Quarters. The sign at the ruins explains: "Farina was proclaimed a town on 21-3-1878. Originally called 'Government Gums", but later called Farina by Governor Jervois.
The name comes from the Latin word for "flour" and original plans were to grow wheat, but the climate proved unsuitable with the unstable climate and lack of water.
Between 1882 and1884 Farina was the railhead from Port Augusta to Marree and then to Alice Springs. The line closed in the 1980s and removed in 1993. Within Farina’s town limits theres an array or railways buildings with platforms, goods sheds, sheep and cattle yards, station master's residences, workman's cottages and a 5 million gallon reservoir.
Afghan camel drivers lived on Afghan Hill on the eastern side of the town and brought in wool from the stations and delivered supplies to them. Chinese also came to Farina as construction workers on the railway and some stayed on as gardeners.
Other ruins include the school built in 1979, several hotels "Transcontinental" and “Exchange”,the post office, banks, all important telegraph station, police station, churches, general stores, bakery ( currently near full restoration to bake bread underground ), brewery, blacksmith, saddlery, hospital and butchery.
The Farina cemetery was used last in 1960. The town was finally deserted in the 1980s but in its heyday the population reached approximately 300 residents in the township.
If you do drop in make sure you head to the campground to either stay or walk to the top of Anzac Hill where a memorial gives homage to those who have served from the area.