Farina: Ruined Ghost Town – Oodnadatta Track, South Australia

28 km north of Lyndhurst is the ghost town of Farina, now nothing more than a fascinating collection of ruins with the surrounding countryside littered with old drays, wheels and rusting pieces of equipment.

ruined house farina ghost town south australia

It is strange, while wandering around the ruins, to think that people once made their homes here and hoped to grow wheat in the parched surrounding landscape.

The area was originally proclaimed a town on 21/03/1878 and called “Government Gums” because of the mature River Red Gums in the creek to the north of the town.

Later it’s name was changed to “Farina” (Latin for wheat or flour) by farmers who optimistically hoped to turn the vast flat lands here into fields of grain.

For a few years the rains were unusually good, and the farms and town flourished, reaching a population of about 600 before the copper and silver mine closed in 1927.

At its peak the town had a bakery, grain store, two breweries, two hotels, a general store, post office, Anglican church, five blacksmiths and a school.

ruins farina ghost town south australia

Then the normal climate returned … bringing years of drought and dust storms which eventually forcing the abandonment of the town.

Farina was the railhead from Port Augusta from 22/5/1882 until 1884 when the line was extended first to Marree and then Alice Springs. The line closed in the 1980′s and was removed in 1993.

Railway buildings included platforms, goods shed, sheep and cattle yards, station masters residence, workman’s cottage and a 5m gallon reservoir.

One of the more unusual cargoes embarked at Farina railway station was South Australia’s biggest meteorite. The 1.2 ton Murnpeowie iron Meteorite was dragged out of the desert north-east of here about a century ago; and can be seen today at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.

Afghan camel drivers lived on Afghan hill, on the eastern side of the town. They brought in wool from the stations and delivered supplies to them. Chinese came to Farina as construction workers on the railway and some stayed on as gardeners.

The Farina cometary was last used in 1960 and the town was finally abandoned in the 1980′s.

Photos – Adelaide to Alice Springs Road Trip

Tourist Information

A bush camp ground with facilities has been established adjacent to Farina creek by the owners of Farina station.

Lyndhurst is located 606 km north of Adelaide at the crossroads of the Strzelecki and Oodnadatta Tracks. For more information contact the South Australian Visitor & Travel Centre


58 comments on “Farina: Ruined Ghost Town – Oodnadatta Track, South Australia

  1. Tom Lee on said:

    You wonder what kind of life’s the people had that lived in the homes that now lay in ruins. Who their where and where did they go in the end, where they happy or sad?

  2. Dave Pearse on said:

    …and I thought Coober Pedy was a ghost town! Those are chilling pictures. Puts me in mind of Mad Max.

  3. Jo Anne Trigo on said:

    Interesting information. Thank you for sharing it with us. This really makes me thing how there’s so many other places in the world that was once populated and now it is deserted..Its great to have people out there to research these places and tell us the history.

  4. garry on said:

    I’ve visited Australia 5 times and had no idea it had places similar to the place you’ve reviewed in this post. There is a lot of interesting facts one can learn about different lands! Great site!

  5. Shane on said:

    Great post. There’s just something I love about ghost towns. In the states, I love visiting North Dakota for that reason – just stumble into some places where these tiny towns and churches have been abandoned for years. There’s something endlessly fascinating about that. Good post!

  6. Rita on said:

    Australia, and especially the Outback, is such a great place to visit ghost towns, lonesome bush towns that had an interesting history. I always imagine how it must have been in the early days without modern day’s transport. I am fascinated by the history of the old ghan railway line. Thanks again for sharing th photos and the stories. I’ll sure be back to your blog.

  7. Alex T on said:

    Thank you for interesting information, but most of all I liked placed photos. This place looks strange, especially with this bicycle :)

  8. Adam Keynes on said:

    That tricycle reminds me a little bit of The Shining. The place looks as dry as a bone. I don’t know why they thought they could grow crops at any time.

  9. rob olston on said:

    I have visited Farina many times and have written the History of Farina in a book called “Farina. from gibber to ghost town….”….. it is available from me at 7 Burnbank street, Lake Wendouree Vic 3355 at a cost of $ 15.. the ruins are absorbing ‘ the stories behind the people are fascinating,,,,,,,,,,, afghans, pastoralists, aborigines,

  10. BiteTheDust on said:

    The Farina Campsite is a little valley of greenery amongst the saltbush.
    It is beautiful desolate country around there. Not as beautiful and as desolate as mine – but easy to get to for a “taste”

    Robbo

  11. Finding desolate places, especially where you don’t expect them to be, is quite inspiring. Finding out that people in a remote place LIVED and DIED there long ago gives me a very strange feeling, but one that I like. I hike in the black hills and finding old mines and stuff sunk into the hills is amazing. Word of warning: DO not enter these structures! Touching anything can bring the whole thing down on you.

  12. Restoration Project Group on said:

    A group of people interested in Farina history and the restoration of some of its buildings is conducting a working program from 3rd May to 17th May 2009 and would be keen to hear of interested people who would like to be involved (not necessarily for the full time).
    If you (or someone you might Know) are interested please contact the convenor at [email protected]

  13. Gayle on said:

    This site is wonderful. My great grand parents lived in Farina for years. My
    Grandmother and her 6 sisters were born snd grew up there. They have passed down
    some wonderful stories about the town. My Great Grandfather was Nathaniel Finn he
    trained the Afghan Camel drivers. My grandmother must have been the only child who
    could not ride a bike for the life of her but could ride a camel with ease.
    Thank you for the photos of the town.

  14. have camped many many times in september to watch the rainbow bee eaters burrowing in the creek bank to breed and watch young whiteback swallows huddling together on the power wire behind the ‘donkey’.unfortunately i havent been since my dear companion left this earth.

    The last time we were there was in a dust storm and a group of lutheran people were going to the territory for a centenary celebration and they stayed in the old shearing sheds down the creek. she was very sick but loved every moment of the storm proped up in the back of the old hilux and it was in the mid30s overnight without complaint.

    legend has it the optomistic town folk joked that the next two towns should be called bran and pollard, as their town Farina was latin for flour. My greatgrandpa was a resident carpenter and block owner at sliding rock where I visit regularly and so i was drawn to Farina and Maree while visiting the ‘old carpenter’. never feel more at ease than when i am in this countryside.

  15. Margret McPharlin on said:

    Hello, I am researching family history for McPharlin. the Name Bernard McPharlin and his wife and family are all listed in this area, which include Saltina and Pich Richi. I have deaths noted of this family in these areas but am unable to find cemetaries in these areas.
    This is the last part of the family that is unfound and would love to know a bit more about them.
    Is there any one who can shine a light for me. Cheers Margret

  16. elaine white on said:

    just love the pics. of Farina, so haunting.

    According to our family history, my Grt. Grandmother was the first white woman born in Farina..I have a diary she wrote in later life, which tells of her childhood in Farina.

    Also there is supposed to be a grave in the Farina cemetery of a relation but I haven’t been able to verify.does anyone know of any Adams in local cemeteries??

    Regards, Elaine..

  17. Trevor Mckerlie on said:

    My parents lived at Farina from 1938/39/40/41. Dad was a fettler in the Commonwealth Railways. I have a photo of my brother and sister in front of the house in that period but seek further photos
    around that time. Will be visiting Farina around 27th April this year.

  18. elaine white on said:

    Trevor, If you are going to Farina, would you be able to have a look and see if there is a grave of a Jane Adams.I was told it was on a hill(?) by a tree at the farina cemetery. I would live a photo of it, if possible.
    she is part of our family, and I will never be able to go there, so if you can help I would be most grateful.
    Elaine..

  19. Margret McPharlin on said:

    Hello all, Farina is where my relatives once lived…a long time ago….We are trying to find out about these people, how they lived etc…..I was wondering whether any of you out there have seen of heard about the McPharlin families , or found grave stones etc.

    Happy Easter to you all,
    Cheers Margret

  20. Neerav Bhatt on said:

    EDITOR: Trevor just sent me this message:

    Hi Elaine..
    It will give me great pleasure in doing what you have requested.Look forward to a reply in the last few days of the month
    All the best….Trev Mck

  21. elaine white on said:

    Thanks Trevor, really appreciate it.. Hope the trip is not too hard for you…elaine..

  22. Barry Jacquier on said:

    The Farina Restoration Group which is made up of volunteers will be working at Farina for the month of May. The renovation of the Cemetary incorporating an information pergola, plus the building of a memorial to those who served in WW1 & WW2 (incorporating an information pergola) are high priorities. On the weekend of the 22nd/23rd there will be a “Back to Farina”.

    The underground bakery will be operational, there will be a cricket match on Saturday and entertainment in the woolshed on Sat night, and on Sunday the cemetary upgrade will be consecrated and there will be a dedication of the war memorial.

    Please refer to web site http://www.farinarestoration.net for more information about the Restoration Group. We would welcome more interested people.

  23. elaine white on said:

    Hi Trevor, just wondered if you were back from your trip to Farina….I am just about dying from curiosity to know whether you found out any info for me, about the grave site????
    regards,
    Elaine….

  24. Trevor Mckerlie on said:

    Hi Elaine, Yes back from the trip to Farina, sorry for the delay in contacting you. It was a tremendous trip but unfortunately I could find no reference to your inlaws.

    Not to give up though as the owners of Farina station are in the process of researching the graves at Farina,apparently most of the local records were lost in a fire but fortunately in that era records of births and deaths were registered at Burra.

    After the rains at Farina things are in a bit of a mess (roads and such) but the countryside is in excellent health, the greenest i think I have ever seen it. We coulnt drive to the cemetery,roads washed out, but we hiked and took a few photos which I will send as soon as I work out how to.

    Could find no trees or evidence of any anywhere near the cemetery. A lot of unmarked graves that are being investigated. The Dawes family at Farina station are a lovely family and were very helpful to us and are very dedicated to the research of Farina history so dont give up the ghost yet-more is happening.

    Sorry again and will post photos of cemetery asap.

    Trev Mck

  25. elaine white on said:

    hi Trevor, thank you for doing that..I guess it was a big ask..looking at the photos of Farina,,,,,I don’t suppose it will be an easy thing to get it back to how it was, it would be a great thing to be involved in..my Gr, Gran was a Hisgrove, and lived in Farina.then married an Adams, and lived , also at cordillo downs…they then went to W.A early 1900s..I will look forward to seeing more info on Farina in the future….Elaine……

  26. Peter Grant on said:

    This is a note for Gayle, comment number 13. I have recently returned from a trip to the centre and have a photo of Nathaniel Finn’s grave in Farina Cemetery. It is a reasonably good photo and I was wondering if Gayle would like a copy of it. If so please contact me at paf.grant AT gmail.com
    Peter.

    EDITOR: unfortunately Gayle didnt leave her email address in the comment, hopefully she checks this page every now and then

  27. Keith Mc Gowan on said:

    Discovered Farina over the past two days by accident. What a find. Spent hours wandering around, taking photographs, soaking up the History. And you don’t need a “bloody great big 4 x 4″ to get there. Take some tucker tho. Congratulations to those who look after Farina and the super “ripper you beaut” camping park. Well done to you all. We will be back !

  28. Pauline on said:

    Looking for any info or photo’s about the Hisgrove family or the Adams family from Farina..If anyone has any photo’s I would love a copy….Hope to get there one day….

  29. gail bedford nee rogers. on said:

    HELLO,IM LOOKING FOR ANY INFORMATION RELATIVES ROGERS, MY GRAND FATHER PERCIVAL OWEN ROGERS WAS BORN IN FARINA 1900.THANK YOU GAIL,

  30. Deb Tucker on said:

    Hi
    My Great Grandma Edith Adelia Riley was born in Farina 13 Sept 1882 , her parents being Charles (William) Riley and Idealia Jesse (nee Campbell born in NSW) .
    I believe she went to school there as a young girl but after leaving school the family moved to Adelaide.
    Somewhere between Farina and Adelaide she had a ‘relationship’ with an unknown male which produced a daughter born in Adelaide 1907. The daughter was my grandmother.

    There are a few photos of Farina on the web – http://trove.nla.gov.au/picture/result?q=farina sa amongst them one of a group of school children at Farina school ca 1898 which may be of interest to the group.

    I was lucky enough to remember her but unfortunately never really asked many questions about her childhood, and never found out that my grandmother never knew her father until after she passed. I too am interested in anyone who may have access to any information, school or cemetery records from this era just to help me complete the family ‘story’ .
    feel free to email at [email protected]
    regards Deb

  31. Deb Tucker on said:

    PS sorry meant to mention a big thanks to those who have contributed to the restoration site and this blog – appreciate the information thus far
    Deb

  32. Chris Monaghan on said:

    Tom,
    my grandmother was born there in 1883. Her parents were miners in Kapunda and must have moved there to work in the mine. Then they moved to Port Wakefield where her father worked in the railways,
    Chris

  33. Jennifer Wood (nee Kite) on said:

    I am interested in my family tree. I note in the cementry the surname Kite also comments from Daisy Kite aged 93 (not a bad innings). I can always remember my mother (Rhonda Florence nee Waters) talking about this area and the stations. My father who has just recently died did make and repair camel saddles. I know he worked for many years as a fencer around these areas. As a child I remember visiting Quorn to see my grandparents. My birth certificate states Father, Leigh Creek Station via Copley, he was a station hand. His name was Malcolm Howard Kite. I was estranged from my father at 3 years of age.

  34. Margret McPharlin on said:

    Jennifer, i am pretty sure we have a KITE marrying a MCPHARLIN, our rellies..will double check later and let you know..good luck with your hunt Margret

  35. Bill Collins on said:

    Hello Margaret
    I lived at Farina My mothers family was there from the very early days My grand father died there in 1930 I am Interested in and collect any thing from Farina this article from the Adervertiser will be of interest to you.I also have a connection to the Kite Family.
    Bill

    The Advertiser personal column 4 Jan 1915

    Mr. Stephen Kite, an old and highly respected resident of Farina, died on Wednesday last after living there for 31 years.
    He was born in Wiltshire on February 16, 1838, and arrived two years later at Holdfast Bay in, the sailing Ship Rajahstan, thus being a colonist of 74 years.
    His family first settled at Hindmarsh. He married in 1865 Matilda, daughter of Mr. Barnard McPharlin, of Saltia. The following year he went to Blinman with teams and carted copper ore to Port Augusta, later on taking taking a contract to cart poles for the overland telegraph line as far as Peake station, about 350 miles north of the Blinman.
    He left a widow, one daughter (Mrs. A. Caldwell, of Innamincka), and four sons (Messrs. George, Edward, and Stephen Kite, of Farina, and Mr. Alfred

    Kite, of Wirrabara).

  36. Margret McPharlin on said:

    a big thank you to Bill. The information you sent is great and I will be using it for sure.
    Much appreciated, cheers Margret

  37. Jennifer Wood (nee Kite) on said:

    I have received some more information with regards to the surname “Kite”
    I have attached the following website http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/35307151

    Jennifer Wood nee Kite

  38. Mark Brice on said:

    I wish to contact Gayle from above as I have a photo of Nathaniel Finn grave and would like to communicate.
    My ancestors – BAKER,HILL,WHITE, MURTON etc have connections to Farina,Blinman areas.
    From memory some of my ancestors were married I believe at the residence of a William FINN.
    my email is [email protected]

  39. Barbara on said:

    Hi Mark,
    My grandfather’s name is William Finn and he was a resident of Farina when it was booming and later when times became very tough. Can’t tell you dates right now would have to dig out the family info that I have copies of. One of those is a record of my Grandmother’s memories that she wrote not long before she died. A wonderful picture of their days on this earth. They were poor folks (in money that is) with 18 children and usually lived in houses that were provided by the owners of the farms that they worked on. I’m not sure if he is the same one that your rellies were married in their home but it would be fun to find out. The Nathaniel Finn refered to in other posts would only be related to my grandfather if he was a child at the time of his death or related to Grandfather’s brother who I have no knowledge of other than he had a brother. I look forward to hearing from u or any other interested parties. Regards Barbara

  40. Karyn Stephens on said:

    This is my very first effort at finding out something about my paternal family. I don’t know how I got to this site, but am blown away with the information you are providing each other. My cousin and I have wondered all our lives (63) about our Father’s family, no one seemed to have anymore information regarding dad and his 6 brothers and 1 sister being born between 1900 – 1921 my dad being the youngest. I have in the last couple of days been told a Thomas Evans and Margaret Anne Gregory (my grandparents) were married at the Residence of a Mr Dawes in Farina in 1900. Would love to hear from anyone with info from that time period. Most of my Aunts and Uncles were born in Beltana one in Oodnadatta.

    Also Elaine No. 25 . I have information of Thomas Gregory (b1849) marrying Mary Ann Hisgrove including photographs wondering if this could be of any help to you?

  41. Pauline on said:

    Hi Karyn….Elaine 25 was my sister..she passed away in February from cancer..We were doing research on the Hisgrove and Adams family’s from Farina..any info you may have would be great..
    I am happy to send you my email address if that is easier..My Gt Grandmother was a Hisgrove born in Farina…probably a sister to Mary Ann hisgrove…We planned on going to Farina but my sister never made it…i am still planning on going with her daughter some time soon….any photo’s would be great…..I am in W.A.

  42. Tom Harding Convenor Farina Restoration Group. on said:

    It is gratifying to see the level of interest aroused concerning Farina. The Farina Restoration Group (Campers and Caravanners from all across Australia, over four programs, have expended 15,000 volunteer hours ,collectively,some 130 persons have been involved. 2009 thru 2012.
    Labelled –A “Ghost Town” – Ghost Towns don’t talk; so we now consider it to be an Historic Inland Township,representative of many similar sites that are reduced to piles of rubble.. We are “lifting” Farina out of that status and it now well and truly tells its own story.
    For help in our next stage I need a Photograph of the building which was the Farina Hall It was located on the Pattersons Store/butchers site -adjacent to the Bakery. Can you help…Tom.

  43. Chris Monaghan on said:

    Hi to all,
    am enjoying the exchange of information about our ancestors time at Farina, My (and my cousin Kevin O’Brien) great grandfather Francis O’Brien was Railway Foreman for the railhead (which was the end of the line for the Ghan at that stage) and for the Northern Region, based at Farina from 1881 to 1889. He lived there with his wife Catherine (nee Driscoll)and a heap of children. He was involved in many bridge and line washouts via storms and floods, etc. In fact, as mentioned in a previous message here, my grandmother Catherine (their daughter) was born there is 1883 approx. Kevin has some photos of various buildings there, including the hospital, where we guess she was born. We have found a newspaper clipping from the SA Register in 1889 which records the formal function to farewell Francis and the family from the area, and thank him for his efforts. He then went to Port Wakefield. We are both fascinated by the interest in this small, forgotten place, and plan to visit in the not too distant future.
    If anyone has any connection to Francis, Catherine, their family or their friends, would be pleased to hear from you.
    Best
    Chris

  44. Karyn Stephens on said:

    Hi Pauline, I’m sorry your sister didn’t get to Farina but her paragraph here is what prompted me to follow through on my family. My email address is [email protected] Yesterday I ordered my grandparents marriage certificate, I’m hoping this will show my grandfathers occupation and perhaps his father. I have a slide of a grave and someone has written on it “Leah Julie Hisgrove aged 33 died 1908″ is this any good to you? Unfortunately the 17 photos I have (numbered on the back) I can find no reference to in the paperwork on the family history, this is very disappointing. I can send a photocopy of a photocopy of Mary Ann Hisgrove (she looks a bit like “Hittler”) if you like, lets know. My husband and I hope to travel to Farina in April/May 2013. cheers Karyn (Henley Beach SA)

  45. Pauline on said:

    Hi Karyn, Yes Leah Julie Hisgrove is the one I have been looking for…I would love a copy…She committed suicide by taking stricnine..Do you know who the people are in the photo’s…Where did you get them from, are they meant to be family???
    I would love a copy of Mary Anne..My Gt Grandmother was Charlotte Hisgrove…..
    Thanks
    Pauline

  46. Pauline on said:

    Sorry Karyn meant to send you my email address::::[email protected]
    Anyone else that may have info on Adams or Hisgrove family I would love to hear from….
    Pauline

  47. Margret McPharlin on said:

    Still looking for more info on the clan MCPHARLIN. I now know that Bernard lived there with his wife Matilda. Just wondering if any one travelling there finds any info of these people, could you please let me know.. thanks,

    Margret McPharlin

  48. Pauline on said:

    Still looking for info or photo’s of the Adams or Hisgrove families that lived at Farina..I believe they may have had something to do with butchering…

  49. Christine on said:

    This page is great. I was born in Leigh Creek Coalfield (Not Leigh Creek South) and we would often go for drives to Farina. The Sturt Peas grew wild in the red sand dunes. As children we loved to look for treasures amongst the ruins of “The Ghost town”
    Miss the Flinders and surrounds.

    To everyone trying to find family history, DO NOT give up. Someone will eventually discover something of significance. I know because it happened to me.

    Have a look at the web page South Australian History.com.au/Farina. This has a link to Farina cemetery. Nic Klaassen who was a teacher in Leigh Creek has done a lot of Research on South Australia.

  50. I am trying to find any information and any photos of the two breweries at Farina I would be most grateful for any help

  51. wendy sowter on said:

    Dear All,
    My husband, daughter and I travelled through Farina last month and were fascinated by Farina and the wonderful work that is being done in restoration by the volunteers to the ruins and graveyard. It is a testament to the Australians of our past and their strength and determination. We were there on a very hot and cloudless day and took dozens of photographs of the buildings and graves. I came away quite unsettled about the town, but its beauty stayed with me as we travelled on. I would love to buy the book that is promoting the restoration of Farina, but am not sure of the best contact for such. Maybe someone will be able to point me in the right direction. Regards from Wendy

  52. Martin on said:

    Hello All,

    I am the baker that re-commissioned the underground bakery in May 2010 as a way of raising funds for the Farina project. Along with all the volunteers I get enormous satisfaction from my involvement.

    Whilst not a spiritual person, whilst onsite I am constantly reminded of the people who lived here by virtue of working in their space. Whilst operating the bakery you cannot help but consider what it would have been like 130 years ago.

    During this years stint a few of the volunteers uncovered (removed tonnes of red dust) from the black smiths shop. This went from a routine role to one of immense excitement as they began uncovering wagon wheels, springs, tools and all sorts of other objects perhaps last touched by the black smith himself.

    The desire to souvenir artefacts from the site may be tempting but we urge all visitors to please take only photographs. We even had a group drive into the middle of The Exchange Hotel and set up a picnic which was very arrogant and ignorant of those people that wish to take photographs while passing through.

    The amount of history that this project is drawing out will certainly answer many questions for those people wishing to explore their family trees.

    Regards,

    Martin

  53. Pat Green on said:

    My husbands descendent John Green was the owner of the Exchange Hotel at Farina – he passed away August 2nd 1907, aged 55 years and is buried at Farina. I would love to have any information at all regarding his time there. He was married with children. We are travelling to Farina hopefully in the next few weeks to reminisce and would be nice to talk to someone with the history at their finguretips. Is the Exchange hotel being restored? Pat.

  54. Some time ago I did a lot of research into ole SA breweries which turned up lots of things. old bottles, labels etc and photos. I did not manage to get to Farina which was sad as I had travelled to much of the State. I am only aware of one brewery. Please please can anyone give me any information on either or both. any photos….anything please. Mike

  55. Anonymous on said:

    Very interestedin farina I worked mainly on the strezlechi track and was interested in john edward finn who was born at farina1886 died1947 who was a police officer at pt adelaide and then innaminca and did he have any children

  56. Darren Finn on said:

    I hope to visit Farina soon, my grandfather Leslie Keith Finn was born there, parents were William David Finn and Ethel Ellen Edwards. John Edward Finn was my grandfathers Uncle from what I can find out.

  57. Keith Osborne on said:

    Hoping to visit in May

  58. catherine Leung on said:

    My grandmother Edith Finn was from Farina. I have several photographs, one taken by a group of people who were ex residents from there. Her father Natahaniel Finn was a camel driver who also carted telegraph poles. I ahve a photo of William David Finn. Contact [email protected] you would like a copy.

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