“The oven we use was made in 1890, it’s wood-fired and it’s semi-underground, and it was built like that for insulation,” he said. (Supplied: Rosalie Dibben, Farina Restoration Group)
“Our history is being lost and what we’re doing is reversing that trend by turning Farina from an abandoned town with its stone buildings crumbling to now being a historic inland township,” he said. “Our aim is for the town to tell its own story when we’re not there, and I think we’re achieving that pretty well.” Photo:
Once an abandoned ghost town, Farina is now a popular tourist stop for travellers. But when the Ghan diverted away from the town in 1980, residents fell away and the community dissolved to nothing. President of the Farina Restoration Group, Tom Harding, said hungry travellers were the key to breathing life back into Farina. (Supplied: Rosalie Dibben, Farina Restoration Group)
Bread and cakes proving to keep town alive Every winter for the past 10 years, hundreds of volunteers travel to Farina for eight weeks to sell goods from the mobile bakery. Photo:
The town of Farina in South Australia has been empty since the 1980s. “I remember when I went to school we didn’t learn much about Australian history — it was all British history — so this is a way we can solve that problem so it doesn’t fade away and be forgotten forever.”
The Farina Restoration Group sells thousands of baked goods from its mobile bakery eight weeks of the year. (Supplied: Rosalie Dibben, Farina Restoration Group)
“We have helped inject around $1 million back into the area.” Mr Gray said making the 1,400km trip every July was the highlight of his year. After 60 years of baking bread, pies and cakes, northern Victorian baker, Laurie Gray, thought his early starts and apron wearing days were over. Photo:
The group has restored a semi-underground oven built in the 1800s and sells the goods to travellers. “We spend $30,000 just on ingredients for the bakery and it attracts around 1,000 people a week,” Mr Harding said. In 2009, a group of volunteers passionate about restoring the remains of the historic town started an initiative using the original semi-underground oven to bake goods for people passing through. And it’s proving to be a success.The Farina Restoration Group, made up of people from all around Australia, has raised enough money to spend $50,000 each year for restoration works. But after watching a Landline episode about a long-forgotten town in South Australia that needed bakers to help bring tourists back to the town, the 80-year-old was busting to dust off the oven mitts and lend a hand.Farina, the lost city Almost in the middle of nowhere, on the Lake Eyre basin, sits the town of Farina.It was once a thriving service centre on the railway line in the late 1800s. (Supplied: Laurie Gray )
Group’s mission to bolster Australian history With the Farina project attracting more and more people passing through each season, Mr Harding hopes it will encourage others to save other historic towns from being scratched off the map. “We do a bit of caravanning and we’ve stayed there before, then I saw the story on Landline and they said they were looking for volunteer bakers so I put my hand up,” Mr Gray said.
(Supplied: Laurie Gray) Photo:
Laurie Gray travels 1,400 kilometres to Farina in SA every year to bake bread for travellers.
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