There’s something special about an Anzac dawn service in the bush. It might be the absence of a traffic hum or the lack of streetlights boring down. But maybe it’s just the country’s gentle peace that drapes over you during this annual pause in reflection. Whatever it is, there’s something very fitting standing below the quiet navy skies as the light draws in, commemorating those who served – and continue to serve – for our country.
Every three years at a remote South Australian Outback war memorial overlooking a gum lined creek, a crowd gathers for the Farina Anzac Day service. In 2021, almost 200 tourists and locals from nearby properties and communities came together, a particularly poignant moment considering the cancellation of services because of covid in 2020.
Farina, located 600 kilometres north of Adelaide in the Lake Eyre Basin, was a thriving railway town proclaimed in 1878, with the last shop closing in the 1960s. It is now home to just two people who run the surrounding sheep and cattle station, also called Farina.
Can you imagine what it was like for a mother and father to receive home only one of their three sons who came home with psychological and physical scars that he and his family would carry all their lives?”
In its heyday, Farina’s population peaked at about 300 permanent residents, with cameleers and drovers boosting numbers at times. So far, research has revealed almost 70 men from the Farina district served for their country.
The impact the war had on this small, remote community – like many others across Australia – would have been significant, but it was Defence guest Squadron Leader (ret.) Lindsay Campbell CSM’s reference in the 2021 service to a local family that brought home the human impact that must have been felt.
“On Anzac Day there is a natural focus on those who died in battle but as the effects of later, and very recent, conflicts have shown, there is so much more work to do in not just caring for the families of those who lost loved ones – and the Napier-Bell family of Farina are a prime example – out of three sons who went to war only one returned.
“Can you imagine what it was like for a mother and father to receive home only one of their three sons who came home with psychological and physical scars that he and his family would carry all their lives?”
So, it was Campbell’s plea that while we remember the fallen, we also “remember the broken men and women who came home with both the psychological and physical scars of battle that never went away”.
Given the Anzac Day service is only held every three years at Farina, every effort is made to ensure it’s a memorable event. Last year’s included a Walk of Remembrance from the memorial, through the ghost town, finishing at the town’s 130-year-old bakery which fired up to serve a gunfire breakfast.
– LEST WE FORGET –