Photos: Kerry Storer; Farina Restoration Group Inc.
Farina, South Australia, has a year-round population of two people and is located more than 600 kilometres from Adelaide, its nearest city. For the majority of the year, the outback area is a ghost town of abandoned historic buildings and dust, but during the winter, the deserted town becomes an oasis.
For just eight weeks a year, Farina becomes a tourism hotspot for those heading to the Marree Australasian Camel Cup and Queensland’s Big Red Bash, and dozens of volunteers flock to staff Farina’s seasonal venues.
Farina has Australia’s only remote, underground, pop-up bakery, which has been running since the late 1800s, and the town has a brand-new café as of this year.
While the bakery is underground, the new café is level, situated in a recently renovated historical building called Patterson’s House. After three years in a commercial caravan, the brand-new café went brick-and-mortar in May and serves up pies, pasties, cream buns, sausage rolls, coffees, and more. The treats, all prepared on-site or in the bakery’s underground wood-oven, are sustenance for passerby or guests of Farina’s well-equipped campground.
There’s also a historical section of Patterson’s House, which includes Farina merchandise and a TV detailing the area’s history.
The nearby festival attractions make Farina an obvious choice for a pit stop along the way, but Kerry Storer, head baker and coordinator of Patterson’s House, says Farina should be a destination spot, too. He says that even during offseason, when the pop-up venues are closed, it’s fun to explore the historical buildings, which are currently being repaired by the Farina Restoration Group.
“You can come any time of the year to look around; It’s unique, and there’s so much to see and do for people who want to see a historical town,” Storer says.
Storer, originally from Victoria, has been a baker for more than 50 years, and he decided to volunteer for Farina in his retirement. He says that although the town is worth a visit year-round, there’s one convincing reason the town is only bustling for eight weeks a year, during the winter: “You may have heard… It gets really hot up here.”