Farina ….. An abandoned town in the outback

Who has visited Farina in South Australia?

As you drive along the dirt roads of outback South Australia, you see many ruins along the roadside and scattered throughout properties, some in remarkable condition and some basically a pile of rubble. But one of the most complete is when you visit the town of Farina.

This was our second visit to this amazing place which, in the 1890s, had about 600 people living there, but now it’s nothing like it would have been back then. Although it is slowly being transformed by an amazing group of volunteers, from ruins to a town that once was.

Back in the day Farina was home to two hotels, a school, post office, a railway line .. but over the years people started to move away and by 1957 the school was closed and apparently the final permanent residents left in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

This is one place you should visit. Do yourself a favour and head out and take a walk around the town, read the signage and try to imagine what life would have been like there back in the day.

Farina is also home to the most remote underground bakery in Australia. There is no guessing where to go, the smell as you walk from the car directs you exactly where you need to be! This fully functioning underground bakery was the only mainly intact building on the site and volunteers were able to get this bakery back up and running, a feat in itself, considering it had laid unused for 80 years or so.

The bakery itself only opens for about 8 weeks each year around May-July. This is all run by volunteers and the new ‘cafe’ building, next to the bakery, provides a huge range of breads and sweets, coffee, souvenirs and a seating area. Yes, we did sample quite a few of the goods on offer!

There is a great camping ground to stay as well, just behind the town. We drove through on our way to the cemetery (as you do!) and it looked like a great campground, plenty of room, shady sites, toilets and fire pits. We will definitely spend a night there next time we are over that way.

The cemetery also reflects the town’s diversity. There is a well marked Afghan section in one corner. Chinese, Aboriginal and Hindu burials are also recorded here.

Several hundred people are recorded as being buried in the cemetery, however most graves are unmarked.

We must end by congratulating the volunteers on the truly amazing job they are doing in preserving Farina and bringing it back to life. It’s important that these places are here for future generations to see and learn about. The interpretive signs along the way reveal much of the town’s past, and every volunteer we met was so happy and proud to tell us about the town and the work that is going on. Whilst you can visit Farina at any time of year, it’s great to be able to visit whilst the volunteers are there and have a chat with them to learn a little more … and of course to visit the bakery!

Shelly’s Podcast Interview

OK, so it’s not all just about George, he’s not the only radio star around here!

We hadn’t mentioned anything about this so far to many people, but whilst we were away Shelly recorded a segment for the Big Bash Podcast, which was published on 5th July.

This is a hugely popular podcast which takes an inside look at 2 of Australia’s largest music festivals, The Big Red Bash at Birdsville & The Mundi Mundi Bash at Broken Hill. Each episode is different and unique and covers interesting interviews with artists and volunteers, behind the scenes stories, updates and so much more. If you enjoy these concerts or are looking at attending in the future, this is one podcast you should check out.

For now though …. check out Shelly’s interview!! Link below, just go to the 20:30 mark, just after the Jimmy Barnes interview.

We are Nutbush Record Holders!

We’ve briefly mentioned this, and those who follow our social media pages would have seen photos, but this year we participated in the Nutbush World Record Attempt.

We got so many messages and were tagged in many posts about it being on the news back home too, so you may have even seen us on there!

Both of us, and Jacquie, all went in it, but Duck was recording his radio show so missed out (that worked out well for him, can’t say he was disappointed in missing it 😂)

The previous record was 2,878 and we smashed it with 4,084 dancers!!

We all lined up in rows (we were in row 4) on the arena and danced for a full 5 1/2 minutes to Tina Turner’s hit Nutbush City Limits. You don’t realise how long that song is until you need to dance the whole time!

WE ARE RECORD HOLDERS!

All funds from the $15 per person entry fee goes straight to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This year you could also pay double to guarantee a spot in the first row. Just this event alone raised $65,000 for them.

Our days at the Big Red Bash

Whilst the concerts don’t generally start until around 12 or 1pm each day, there is still plenty to do. And this event isn’t just about music, it also raises alot of money for the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Entry into the drag race and nutbush alone raise a significant amount of money for this amazing and much needed organisation. We hope we will never require their assistance, but we do regularly donate and take comfort in the knowledge that they will be there to help if ever needed in our remote travels.

The Bashville Drags are hilarious, men (and some woman and kids) dress up in drag and funny costumes and run down big red and through the campground, before parading on stage where the winners are picked. It really is a sight to see, you’ll never see so many men fondling their boobies 😛

Each year there is a Nutbush World Record attempt which we entered this year. George was far from excited about this, but it’s all for a good cause and we all ended up having a bit of fun. Doing the nutbush for 5 1/2 min is hard work!

Whilst there was a lot of sitting back and people watching at camp, we also took a few walks around Bashville checking out the vendors and food trucks. Ran into Adele from Caravanning With Kids, who we’ve been dealing with for years so was nice to finally meet her in person. We also went for a wander round the camp ground on a Recon R2 hunting expedition! We ended up finding a few, we just wanted to see if we could chat with current owners to get the real life comments on the camper we are buying. Nothing like first hand experience.

With our media passes we were able to get backstage so that was exciting to see the concert and crowd from a different perspective.

Of course climbing Big Red is a highlight for a lot of people. We went up to watch the sunset, but plenty of people were up there for sunrise each day. There was morning yoga up there each day and throughout the day there was volleyball and sand boarding. A couple even got married up there on one of the first days!

The Australian Book of Records were right next to us and over the course of the event they had people beating records, one young girl in particular who hoola hooped nonstop for 1 hour, 31 min.

Other activities available included camel rides and helicopter flights, both of which were very popular.

George on radio!

For everyone who has been asking, here is the link to George’s segment on the Camping & Off Road Radio show from last week.

This was recorded from a free camp in Eulo as we all sat by the campfire watching and listening and for his first radio segment we think he did great!

What do you think?

Betoota and beyond

Our stay at the Betoota Pub was great, camped out the back with the most amazing outback sunset that was constantly changing, the colours were like nothing you see in the city.

None of us had been to the pub before and whilst we are glad we visited, we didn’t even step foot inside! The line was so long with people wanting to get inside that we took our photos and had a look around outside, but will visit again down the track when it’s not so busy.

The town of Betoota has a population of zero and the pub is literally the only thing in town! This hotel ran for 44 years before shutting it in 1997 and becoming derelict. Someone took on the big job of cleaning and refurbishing the hotel and it reopened again over 20 years later in 2020.

So we walked back to camp and spent the night by the fire and the amazing sunset and night sky. This was our last night camping with Steve from MDC as he will be camping with the MDC Owners Group once we head to the bash. For this last night we also met and were joined by Vaughan, the owner of MDC Campers & Caravans. It was a great night all round.

It was an early pack up in the dark (and cold!) the next morning for the drive to Birdsville. Love the early morning, watching the sun rise as we drove along, no-one on the roads, except for hundreds of birds soaring above. This really is the life.

We arrived in Birdsville around 9am, went straight to fuel up with only 2 vehicles in front of us. We later spoke to people who arrived later in the day and were lined up over the bridge on the approach to Birdsville and waited over 2 hours for fuel … and the diesel eventually ran out too! Well worth getting up at 6am!

Duck went and grabbed our passes for us and we headed off to Bashville – about 35km or so from Birdsville. It did take us quite a while to get in, probably about 2.5 hours in total, but it’s a huge job to get this many people in and set up so we weren’t complaining.

Camping fun in outback QLD

After a night camped at Eulo we left to start the drive to Windorah, our home for the night.

An easy drive of about 500 km on mainly sealed roads, but the landscape is so green. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen it so green out here. Areas that were bone dry and rich red dirt during our last trip out this way are now covered in differing colours of green grasses and shrubs.

Plenty more traffic heading our way today too and everyone you speak to is heading to the bash. Every conversation starts with ‘where you headed?’ or ‘off to the bash?’

Arrived in Windorah late yesterday afternoon and headed straight to fuel up. With one fuel station in this small town, and being a major thoroughfare for a lot of the 10,000 people making their way to the bash, you can imagine the lines and wait times! Luckily we are early and didn’t need to wait too long.

We had intended on camping behind the servo as Duck knows the owner, but their pet donkey wouldn’t let us in the gate! It was hilarious watching it all unfold and we weren’t sure if he was friendly and just wanted play, whether he wanted to escape or whether he wanted to kill us 😂, plus, once we got through that gate we had a horse to deal with at the next one! There was an evil looking cow also eying us off, so guard donkey got his way and we decided to move on!

So we headed off back out of town to free camp on the banks of the Cooper Creek, but after a little rain yesterday that wasn’t an appealing site at all, so back to a rest area we headed which was on mainly gravel and far less muddy!

Ended up being a great night, even the small amount of rain didn’t worry us.

Today we are off to Betoota to camp at the pub. None of us have been before so are looking forward to checking out the iconic pub. The pub is literally the only thing in town!

Quick side note … it pays to check fuel prices as we filled up yesterday in Thargomindah at 21 cents a litre cheaper than the others! FuelCharge app is a lifesaver with outback travel.

Bound for the bash

So it’s finally arrived and we are off to the Big Red Bash! An early start to day as we headed out to North Richmond to meet the first of our travelling companions for the next week or so, then off over the mountain to meet another just out of Lithgow.

That first night we pulled in to the little pub in Byrock called the Mulga Creek Pub and camped out the back. Of course you can’t stay at a great country pub without having a beer or two, so we headed over for dinner and drinks. Great food, great service, friendly staff and locals and a great little pub all round.

Day two we continued our journey towards Birdsville, via the Dowling Track, an easy 4WD track. We had a quick lunch stop at Hungerford and a quick visit to the Royal Mail Hotel. This pub was established in 1875 and is the last remaining pub used by Cobb & Co as a staging point enroute from Bourke to Thargomindah.

Ended up in Eulo where we decided to stay the night in a nice little free camp by the river. Quite busy with travellers, but still plenty of space around. Beautiful sky at sunset, we love our outback sunsets and can’t wait for the next week where they will hopefully just keep getting better.

This was also the day that George made his radio debut! He’d been so nervous about it for days, but he didn’t need to worry, he did great! All recorded from our camp on the river in front of the camp fire.

Stay tuned for more on this soon where we will share a link to his segment on The Camping & Off Road Radio Show so you can listen on replay!

We arrive at Bashville

The area where the concert is held is on a privately owned organic cattle farm which gets converted into ‘Bashville’, a mini pop up village in the middle of the desert. The workers build everything from scratch on site, including the stage, toilets and even road markings, laneways and campsites.

This year we are camped right on The Plaza with direct view of the stage, no need to even leave camp to watch the concerts. Couldn’t have a better campsite and friends to share it with. Pays to know the right people!

We arrived two days before the concert started so had plenty of time to settle in, buy our merchandise and check out the stall holders before the actual concerts started.

We are camped next to one of the food vendors and have all visited a few times already trying out their food, nice people, yummy food and very conveniently located!

It already feels like we’ve been away from home for a month, doesn’t take long to relax once you hit the outback. Our days are spent wandering around the bash site, chatting with people, sitting and back and drinking beer by the fire … what more could you want!

We’ve had plenty of people visiting, including Greg Donovan, the owner of the event. What a great guy he is, and when you hear the story of how this all came about, it’s quite interesting.

The Redarc guys have been around helping with a few charging issues, a few of the MDC Owners Group came to visit and lots of fans who listen to The Duck on the radio or podcast, everyone is so friendly and great to talk to.

There are 3 days of concerts which generally run from about 1-8pm each day. Mornings are filled with different activities run by the event, or you can simply relax and do your own thing. Around our camp Duck was working on a podcast interviewing Jimmy Barnes, and Shelly also did her first interview, link will follow at some point!

The first of the concert days started yesterday with 7 different artists performing, finishing with Jon Stevens, he was awesome. Cannot wait for the next few days.

The countdown is on!

Less than a week now before we are off to Birdsville for the 2022 Big Red Bash!

For those that aren’t sure what this is, it is a huge concert which spans over 3 days and takes place at “Big Red” in the Simpson Desert, about 35km west of Birdsville, QLD. Big Red is one of those iconic places all 4WDers want to visit. It stands at 40 metres in height and is the first of 1,140 parallel sand dunes in the Simpson Desert. To say you’ve driven up Big Red is a bucket list item for many 4WD enthusiasts. Let us just say that, after doing both, driving up it is far easier than walking up it!

The Big Red Bash is the most remote music festival in the world and words really can’t describe the experience of being there. We first attended the concert in 2019 and everyone said once you visit you’ll go back again ….. well they couldn’t have been more correct, you definitely get hooked!

After returning from that 2019 event, we then purchased tickets for the next year, but it was cancelled due to Covid. Tickets were held over to the next year and whilst that event did go ahead for people who could attend, as we were in lockdown at the time we were again able to have our tickets carried over. So FINALLY, we are going to be able to use these tickets which were purchased back in 2019!!

If you like concerts and live music, this is one event that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s by far the most well run event we have ever been to, their team of volunteers are amazing and getting 10,000 people from all across Australia into this tiny outback town and out to Big Red, setting up camp and running a great 3 day concert isn’t any small feat. You see, this isn’t like any other concert where everything is already there, this is held on private property, an organic cattle station called Adria Downs. So there is no electricity, no sewerage or toilets, no running water, no shelter …. nothing!

Everything to cater for the concert needs to be taken onto site and set up and this section of the property is transformed into what is called ‘Bashville’, where 10,000 people, staff, volunteers, merchants and performers all perform, live and party for the duration of the event!

It’s not just all about the music though, this is a family event (including your 4 legged doggy friends) so there are plenty of activities including camel rides, helicopter rides, dune surfing, sunrise yoga on Big Red, Doggy Desert Fashions show, dunny door painting and the hilarious Bashville Drag Races!

The lineup for this year has plenty of great artists and Aussie bands, but we (Shelly actually) is so excited for the headline act ….. JIMMY BARNES.

If you want to find out more about this amazing event, check out their website for more information.