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Volunteers restoring parts of an outback ghost town in South Australia are excited to have found a section of the old Ghan rail route.
They said trestle bridges which kept the old train above the floodplains back in the 19th century had been identified near the ghost town of Farina.
The volunteers have made annual winter pilgrimages to Farina since 2009 to painstakingly restore the bakery, stone walls and other structures of what was once a thriving outback mining town.
"We don't put a timeline on it but to us it evolves [and] working on one particular project opens up another," volunteer Tom Harding told 891 ABC Adelaide.
He convenes the Farina Restoration Group, which is working on projects including walking trails with signage to explain to tourists the town's lively heyday.
"We're now about to create another [walking trail]. We've found the old original Ghan line with its old trestle bridges back from the 1870s [so] we are now opening that one up," he said.
"This one is really historic and special.
"We'd been busy working on other areas and, with a bit of exploration, found some original trestle bridges across the gullies in the floodplain.
"They are probably some of the most historic bits we've got in the place, and they will be [will be highlighted for tourists] on a walking trail."
Old Ghan crossed outback floodplains
Mr Harding said the trestle bridges kept the old Ghan up to four metres above the floodplains but, a short distance further east, the old rail line just disappears at ground level, so different engineering of that part of the line probably meant the Ghan ultimately got trapped whenever the outback flooded.
He said the current weather for this year's volunteers probably typified the variations faced by past generations.
The sun was out in Farina after at least 38 millimetres of rain, leaving the road north out of Lyndhurst closed to traffic until it dried out.
Tom Harding and Martin MacLennan
PHOTO: Tom Harding (L) at the restored Farina bakery, with volunteer baker Martin MacLennan. (Rob Fairweather)
Mr Harding said the restored Farina bakery was a popular attraction when the ovens were fired up for a short time each winter tourist season.
"Last year we had a blow-in, an interested person, come and have a look ... Dennis Benson from Queensland just happened to be the guru of scotch ovens in Australia," he said.
"[He] came early [this year] and has rebuilt the oven, so for the same wood fire production it is now four times as efficient.
"You get four bakes out of one heat of the firebox, as opposed to the one we were getting before. He's done a marvellous job with it."
Tourist lull leaves bakery idle
Mr Harding said he hoped tourists would start arriving in Farina again within days.
"[Hopefully] mid-week the bakery will be back cooking, because at the moment there's been no flow of people," he said.
The fundraising plan is to keep the ovens fired up until the middle of July, turning out bush pies, pasties and high-tin loaves of bread.
Mr Harding said it was a constant challenge for the volunteer group to raise the $40,000 or so needed to meet its annual restoration goals, but the State Government had been supportive of the project.
Currently half-erected is a curved, eight-metre long memorial wall, which will honour servicemen of the past who had links with Farina.
"It is just so appropriate where it sits and honours these 63 soldiers who served and these [eight] who were killed in action," Mr Harding said.
"It is worth just coming to Farina, to stand there and feel the emotion."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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