Thursday, June 7, 2012

Leigh Creek to Coward Springs

Sunday 3rd June

After Leigh Creek our first stop was the ochre pits situated on Aboriginal land near Lyndhurst. Ochre has several uses in aboriginal traditional life. In addition to ceremonial purposes it is also used in art and ornamentation, for medicinal purposes and sometimes in burials. Traditionally ochre was traded for items such as axe heads and resin, and a trade in ochre continues today.

The ochre pits are quite deep and contain a variety of coloured pigments.
Ochre Pits, near Lyndhurst

Next we stopped at the ruined town of Farina. Farina is yet another South Australian example of a town whose rise and fall and ultimate demise was directly linked to the railways, specifically the Great Northern Railway, or Old Ghan as it is now known.

It was obviously a dynamic place at its height; the main street was Twelfth Street. The Farina restoration committee has done an excellent job restoring and preserving many ruined buildings. The most complete are the Post Office and the Transcontinental Hotel, later a Bush Nursing Hospital, then finally a boarding house. There is also an underground bakery which, I believe, was working until recently.

There was also an interesting juxtaposition of buildings – The Angel’s Rest, a house of ill repute, was next door to the Police Station.

Nearby was an excellent campground which cost only $5 per person per night. It had a flushing loo and a donkey-fed hot water system, and even more excitingly – grass everywhere. It would have been an excellent stopover, but it was too early in the day.    
Old Post Office, Farina
Farmer Dave
Old Bakery
Transcontinental Hotel, Bush Nursing Hospital and a boarding house

Next we headed for Marree intending to stop there for the night. However, after a late lunch in Marree near the old station, opposite the old stone hotel, we felt we had exhausted the delights of the town and decided to head for Coward Springs instead. Fortunately the Oodnadatta Track to Coward Springs was in a pretty good condition despite recent rains.

Ted Kruse's Mail Truck
Marree Hotel
Marree railway station, now disused

As we are planning to return along this road, we didn’t stop anywhere except the Lake Eyre South Lookout, to see the Lake with lots of water in it.

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