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Murray Valley standard
Title : Murray Valley standard Murray Valley standard
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Source : Murray Valley standard, 29 May 1969, p. 1
Date of creation : 1969
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 450 x 290 mm
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Murray Bridge's oldest locally produced newspaper is the Murray Valley standard, which has been published at Murray Bridge since 1934. The newspaper was immediately popular, and quickly displaced the earlier 'Murray Bridge advertiser' reports in the pages of the Mount Barker courier. It has remained the major Murray Bridge newspaper ever since, despite short-lived attempts to publish other local newspapers. Originally weekly, the Standard experimented with publishing twice weekly in 1973, and has regularly published on Tuesdays and Thursdays since 1981.

Geographical coverage The Standard aimed to include news from nearby towns. Initially a young reporter, Tom Farrell, was employed to cover Mannum and at various times there were also columns dedicated specifically to news from Karoonda, Tailem Bend, Wynarka and Meningie. Together with Mobilong, Mypolonga, Jervois, Bow Hill and Monarto, these were the main extent of the coverage area for many decades of the Standard.

Biographical and historical information The Standard has always published reports of weddings and obituaries of local people. However these have appeared intermittently, according to space and editorial priorities at various times. A 'Personal items' column was first printed in 1940, and continued under a variety of titles. In April 1961 when the Standard took on a new look, an 'About people' column with similar content was included. The first wedding photograph appeared in 1962, and by 1970 this had become a regular feature. Photographs of 'new arrivals' (mothers and babies) began in 1973.

The column 'Random jottings by Scribbler' first appeared in 1935 and was published until 1941. 'Mingling with the multitude: district round up by Stroller' began in June 1947. (Stroller was Maurice Parish, owner of the Standard.) Mostly this column contained reminiscences and comments about local matters, with occasional historical items such as a description from an old resident of the stock route that existed before the town was established. (20 February 1948, p. 2) When Parish sold the newspaper to his edito, Frank Hambidge in 1950, 'Yarrum' became the author of this column. 'Nelson's column' began in the 1970s as an opinion column, often political, focussing on both local and broader issues and events. 'Murray snags' was a column of local social news begun in 1989.

Personal notices were being printed on the back page by 1942. Longer descriptions of weddings, and interesting obituaries became more frequent from about 1949. From the late 1970s interesting biographical sketches were occasionally published in the newspaper. In 1997 editor Graham Rich introduced a 'People in profile' series of interviews with old local residents. "I remember when" was a column introduced in 2005, also based on interviews with older residents.

From time to time interesting historical articles appear in the newspaper, such as an early history of the Monarto district by J.F. Bretag in 1951. (25 May 1951, p. 5) For several years from 1952 historical articles by 'P.W.' (Percy Whitington) were an interesting feature. In 1968 there was a revived interest in historical articles. In January 1974 a special issue of the Standard for the Weerama festival and 'Back to Murray Bridge' celebration included many historical items. (23 January 1974) Historian Jean Schmaal occasionally wrote articles such as a detailed history of the building of the 1925 road traffic bridge at Murray Bridge. (27 November, 1975, p. 12) As the new Swanport Bridge neared completion the Standard published an article about the history of what was originally known as Thompson's Crossing. (22 March 1979, p. 3) From July 1981 a series of historic photographs were printed in the Standard courtesy of Jean Schmaal and the National Trust. In 1986 a series of articles about historic buildings and sites of the Lower Murray appeared. The centenary of the well-known 'Mannum Club' was marked in 1991 with pages of articles and photographs. (7 February 1991, p. 13-16)

River Murray The pages of the Standard show that the current concerns with the state of the River Murray are concerns that have been expressed (and largely ignored) for decades. In 1939 the chairman of the Meningie District Council, Mr A. McFarlane, informed the Commissioner of Public Works of the detrimental effects of the huge upper river projects, and drew attention to the rising salt levels in the lakes and Coorong. (5 May 1939, p. 1) In December 1944 the Murray Valley Development League, newly formed in Victoria, met in Murray Bridge and from this time reports of the League's doings were frequently recorded in the Standard. (8 December 1944, p. 1) A long article in 1947 discussed the League's opinions about the Snowy River scheme. (26 September 1947, p. 6) In the early 1950s there were often long articles about the MVDL by its secretary G.V. Lawrence. By the 1970s the MVDL's role seems to have changed and  the League was surveying perceived effects of the projected satellite city at Monarto. (25 September 1973, p. 2)

The River Murray Liaison Committee, founded in 1934, met at Goolwa to discuss salinity and flow levels in the river in 1948. (25 May 1948, p. 1) In 1966 a fisherman with 35 years experience reported that he had never had such small catches. (4 November 1966, p. 1) In 1973 the Standard reported that the State Environment Protection Council was seeking public comment about preserving the Coorong. (17 April 1973, p. 19). Water Hyacinth infestation in the river was a concern in 1975. (4 December 1975, p. 35) Salinity was raised once again in 1981 (19 February 1981, p. 2, 26) and the state government pledged $400 million to clean up the river. (2 July 1981, p. 1) In 2003 the South Australian Murray Irrigators group were concerned about loss of water by evaporation from the lower lakes, and suggested a lock at Wellington and a pipeline around the lakes as a way to save the "ailing river." (17 July 2003, p. 8)

Drownings were reported at sadly regular intervals. In 1941 unseasonable floods caused much damage, and the several drownings included the mail contractor Cedric Lintern. (31 January 1941, p. 1) When the Wellington ferry sank with two trucks on it in 1969, four people managed to swim to shore. (13 March 1969, p. 1)

Paddlesteamers and river craft The last of the nineteenth century paddlesteamers to operate on the river, and later also the new motor launches, received plenty of coverage in the newspaper. In 1939 the old PS Trafalgar sank mysteriously at Murray Bridge. (28 April 1939, p. 1) The first cruise of the popular MV Merle under Captain G.H. Griffin was reported in 1941 (21 March 1941, p. 1) and a photograph of a group in the dining room of the Merle was published in the Standard later in the year. (19 September 1941, p. 1) But by 1952 the future of the vessel was uncertain. (8 August 1952, p. 1) A long obituary of Captain Griffin was published on his death in 1945. (27 July 1945, p. 2) The South Australian Farmers' Co-Operative Union ran four milk boats on the river, collecting milk from farmers, from 1922 until 1946. These were the Co-operation, Union, Loyalty and Progress. They were eventually replaced by a motor lorry. (5 July 1946, p. 1) (In 1971 the Mobilong Council had the task of removing the 14 decaying milk boat landings. (13 May 1971, p. 4)) When the Gem sank a history of the vessel was given. (19 November 1948, p. 6) Interviews and articles about old riverboat skippers were popular. An interview with Captain Charles Payne was printed in 1951. (23 February 1951, p. 8) The PS Avoca arrived at Murray Bridge in 1958 for renovation as a pleasure boat. (19 September 1958, p. 1; 17 October 1958, p. 10) Following a trial visit in 1959 (6 March 1959, p. 1) the MV Coonawarra began running a summer passenger service in 1960 from Murray Bridge. (23 September 1960, p. 1) In 1963 the local branch of the National Trust were negotiating to purchase the PS Marion as a museum. (10 May 1963, p. 2; 31 May 1963, p. 2; 4 October 1963, p. 1) In 1979 the MV Murray River Queen was pictured on a stamp by Australia Post. (1 February 1979, p. 17) In 1981 there was lobbying for the state government to buy the PS Oscar W. (28 May 1981, p. 10; 3 December 1981, p. 14) The government bought the old paddlesteamer in 1985. (21 February 1985, p. 1) In 1994 the Mannum District Council purchased the PS Marion. (19 July 1994, p. 1) A replica of the first paddlesteamer, the Mary Ann, was built at Mannum in 2003, for a re-enactment of the first paddlesteamer trip on the Murray in 1853. (17 July 2003, p. 8; 19 August 2003, p. 1-2) Numbers of pleasure craft increased on the river in the late 20th century. This popular pastime was reflected in Houseboat Open Days at Mannum and Murray Bridge in May 2000 attracting 20,000 visitors. (9 May 2000, p. 3) Gumi boat races were held at Tailem Bend in 1992. (6 February 1992, p. 10-11)

Women Women and women's columns did not feature largely in the Standard. Early issues of the newspaper contained 'A nurses letter', with advice for women about medical issues and child care. In 1936 a column 'Of feminine interest' by Mr F. Davies Bryan, a former Mobilong man working for an Adelaide dress designer, ran for a few weeks. In late 1937 a 'Women's corner' column written by Mary Gay appeared, containing commentary, social notes and a recipe. From 1939 until 1948 the writer of this column was 'Patricia' who seems to have been writing in several newspapers, as her correspondents covered such diverse places as Murray Bridge, Edithburgh and Mitcham. (24 October 1947, p. 6) During the Second World War, a 'Kitchen front' column appeared. In 1954/55 'Barbara Jane' compiled a column of social notes. In 1970 a 'Woman's talk' page was introduced and in 1973 the long running 'About people' column was under the authorship of 'Peggy'. This became 'Around and about with Rose' in 1977. Women's groups have an occasional mention in the Standard. Some of these groups had large memberships, the CWA (Barker Group) Show at Mypolonga in 1960 received 700 entries. (18 November 1960, p. 15) In 2003 the Murray Bridge CWA group celebrated 60 years. (19 August 2003, p. 13)

Sport Like most newspapers since the Second World War, particularly country newspapers, sport gradually grew to become one of the most important components of the Standard. The first issue included a sports page covering a variety of sports - cricket, bowls, rowing, tennis, football, the rifle club and horse racing. In 1940 1,200 people attended a sports carnival on the oval, featuring a lightning football premiership, as well as basketball and cycling. (20 September 1940, p. 3) As in most places, regular sport lapsed during the Second World War, re-surfacing in 1945. But the following year the new Murray Bridge golf links opened (28 June 1946, p. 1) and the local Hunt Club held its first post-war meet. (5 July 1946, p. 1) Playing sport on Sundays seemed not to be an issue when the Murray Bridge Corporation decided to allow the Sturt Reserve and Murray Bridge oval to be available to sporting clubs in 1946. (18 October 1946, p. 1) However in 1953 eight local ministers protested about this issue to the Council. Mayor White suggested that, "If the ministers went out and played sport with the young people on Sundays they would have a better chance of filling their churches at night". The Council cited non-Council facilities being used on Sundays by various clubs and did not back down. (29 May 1953, p. 1)

The famous Murray Bridge Rowing Club is mentioned from the beginnings of the Standard. Its annual regatta is reported each year. After five years in recess, the club was re-formed at the end of the Second World War, and the Standard report included photographs and a history of the club. (14 September 1945, p. 7) It lasped again until 1953 (2 October 1953, p. 1) and was clearly back by 1960 when photographs of the new 'four' were published. (16 September 1960, p. 1) The Rowing Club reported yet another revival in 1965. (5 February 1965, p. 8; 12 February 1965, p. 1) A double-page spread contained photographs of the King's Cup rowing competition at Murray Bridge in 1967. (21 April 1967, p. 12-13) The 50th Rowing Club Regatta in 1972 saw a detailed history of the club published in the newspaper. (27 January 1972, p. 20) The club was in financial trouble again in 1982 (23 September 1982, p. 5), and in 1995. (11 May 1995, p. 1) In 1985 it was announced that a mini-series about the famous 1924 rowing competition was to be filmed locally. (5 December 1985, p. 1) The Mannum regatta is reported each year, having begun in 1921. In 1980 Mannum hosted a Riverboat Festival. (28 February 1980, p. 1) In 1992 Gumi boat races were held at Tailem Bend. (6 February 1992, p. 10-11) The Murray Bridge power boat and sailing club is mentioned in 1946. (11 October 1946, p. 7) The project to build a swimming pool at Murray Bridge was first suggested in 1957 (8 February 1957, p. 7) and over 3,000 were present at its official opening in 1959. (24 December 1959, p. 1)

Of other local sport, football is the one given the most detailed coverage in the first years of the Standard. The first football column was published in 1940. There were many sporting clubs at Murray Bridge and in the surrounding towns, some with quite large memberships, the local tennis club had 100 members in 1960. (23 September 1960, p. 9) The River Murray Football League celebrated 60 years in 1991. (30 May 1991, p. 13-16)

Sports coverage became a main feature of the Standard following the Second World War, as for many newspapers. In 1951 a 'Sports and sportsmen' column began, and many individual sports had regular writers using pen names, such as 'Barracker' (football), 'Nimrod' (hunting), 'Luffer' (sailing), 'Pedal' (cycling) and Sec (bowling). From the early 1950s more detailed reports began to fill the pages of the newspaper. In 1977 a 24 page sport supplement was produced as a trial for some months. From the 1990s local identity Harold McLaren began compiling the sports commentray for the Standard. In 2002 a 'Tomorrow's champions' column began, publishing photographs of young local sportspeople. By 2003 there were frequently up to 13 pages of local sports coverage in the Standard. The opening of the Murray Bridge Speedway season was announced in October 1961. (6 October 1961, p. 12) Go-Kart titles were held at Mannum the same month. (13 October 1961, p. 2) Meningie's first rodeo was held in 1986. (18 February 1986, p. 1)

Religion A 'Church news' column appeared in the first issue of the Standard. This became 'Murray Bridge churches' in 1942, but then disappeared until the early 1960s. In 1973 a 'Christian comment' column began, written by various local ministers. In 1992 Marie Pica compiled a 'News from churches' column. In 2005 religion was covered in a 'Reflections' column. The 1960s appear to have been a golden era of church, club and association attendance. The state Lutheran youth conference held at Murray Bridge in 1961 had 300 delegates (28 April 1961, p. 1) and the Lutheran Women's Convention in 1962 was attended by 850. (11 May 1962, p. 2) A rally of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1960 at Tailem Bend expected 500 delegates. (6 May 1960, p. 1) The Lutheran, Anglican and Presbyterian churches featured most often in news items in this period. In 1981 Murray Bridge's first woman minister, Thelma Holmes, was appointed to the Uniting Church. (19 February 1981, p. 6) The usual round of travelling evangelists visited the area. In 1948 large advertisments announced the arrival of 'Evangelist Kent' to "unveil a Great Bible Prophecy" in the Murray Bridge Town Hall. He was still visiting in September (3 September 1948, p. 9) In 1955 and 1956 'Evangelist Stanley' gave a series of talks about Heaven and other topics. (8 July 1955, p. 6; 5 August 1955, p. 7) The Christian Revival Crusade advertised their meetings at Murray Bridge in 1963. (29 March 1963, p. 2) The local Lutheran and Methodist churches combined in 1966 for an "evangelism mission." (27 May 1966, p. 17) A 'Meet Christ Crusade' saw rallies in the Town Hall in 1976. (26 February 1976, p. 10)  In 1970 Murray Bridge Anglicans appeared on the map when the South Australian church created a new country diocese with its centre at Murray Bridge. The first Bishop of the Murray, Robert Porter, was enthroned in April. (9 April 1970, p. 1) Interesting and detailed history of the Murray Bridge and Mannum Lutheran churches was published for the centenary of Lutheranism in the district in 1982. (22 June 1982, p. 9-12)

Politics The Standard itself mostly did not take any obvious political stance, although many of its readers were obviously country Liberal supporters. Most of the tone of the newspaper has always been politically conservative, and occasionally editorials and commentary columns made political jibes. 'Nelson' for example, in his column of political comment the 1980s, made it clear he was not a fan of Bob Hawke. The known political affiliations of the newspaper's early editors and owners is interesting. Parish, the newspaper's first owner, was a labor M.P. prior to establishing the Standard, but in 1947 stood (unsuccessfully) as a Liberal candidate. C.E. Cooke (printer and one-time editor) was a prominent member of the Murray Bridge branch of the Australian Labor Party.

In 1956 Dr Jim Forbes became the local federal (Liberal) representative (28 September 1956, p. 7) and from 1959 a column of parliamentary news by Dr Forbes appeared irregularly. In 1962 he wrote the Cuban missile crisis, condemning Soviet actions, but not condoning the US shipping blockade either. (2 November 1962, p. 5) In 1970 David Wotton M.P. wrote a regular 'Members corner'. By 1985 Alexander Downer was local member and author of the federal parliamentary column.

Agriculture Murray Bridge was the centre for a busy agricultural district and the pages of the Standard reflect this with agricultural articles, reports of groups such as the River Murray Dairymen's Association and advertisments for agricultural equipment and products. A column 'The man on the land' began in 1944. In 2001 a column 'Murraylands farmer' appeared. The vagaries of the climate naturally affected the local farmers. In 1941 unseasonable floods destroyed crops and drowned stock. (31 January 1941, p. 1) The 1956 floods saw desperate scenes for Mannum businesses, and dairies at Jervois and Monteith were under water. (31 August 1956, p. 1, 4, 7; 7 September 1956, p. 1, 4) There was much concern about the failure of the Federal government to provide significant flood aid to the victims. (2 November 1956, p. 1; 9 November 1956, p. 1) The Standard editor expressed the local concern over those left homeless by the floods (16 November 1956, p. 2) and at Mannum a protest was even held. (23 November 1956, p. 4) The Murray Bridge branch of the South Australian Dairyman's Association protested against surcharges levied on electricity bills for those forced to run pumps day and night during the floods. (7 December 1956, p. 5) 4,500 people attended the Mannum Flood Recovery Carnival in 1957. (25 April 1957, p. 1)

In 1950 70 dairymen met to protest about a 50% increase in their water rates. (18 August 1950, p. 1) There was much concern about the demise of dairying in the early months of 1951, with the issue raised at the Farmer's Union Field Day, and comments from politicians and unions were published in the Standard. Decades later, in 1992, there was much concern about milk deregulation. (13 August 1992, p. 1) The 'pig crisis' in 1998 related to the issue of imported pork, and 350 attended a protest meeting at Murray Bridge. (28 April 1998, p. 3) The annual shows and other events are reported, such as the annual Karoonda Sheep Fair in February. The first women's tractor pull team entered the Karoonda Farm Fair competition in 2005.

Articles dicsussing agricultural techniques and developments often appeared in the Standard through the 20th century. In 1951 CSIRO reported that Myxomatosis was being spread in rabbits by mosquitoes. (26 January 1951, p. 3) An officer from the Department of Agriculture  visited country areas to inoculate rabbits with the virus, and hopes ran high of completely destroying the pest at last. (28 September 1951, p. 2, 9 November 1951, p. 6) But before many years the rabbits were as prolific as ever. (10 December 1954, p. 5) Increasing mechanistation was reflected in large advertisments for Fordson tractors (and Electrolux vacuum cleaners). In 1960 Jervois was set to become the first place in South Australia to have bulk milk handling operations. (26 February 1960, p. 1) 

War Army training camps were frequently held at Murray Bridge. In early 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, a state recruiting drive planned to include raising an infantry unit at Murray Bridge. (3 February 1939, p. 1) The week before war was declared, the Army set a 24-hour armed guard on the bridge "as a precautionary measure." (1 September 1939, p. 1) With the war, district recruiting offices were set up at Murray Bridge, Mannum and Mypolonga. Movements of local servicemen were occasionally reported in the Standard. A 'Lower Murray Fighting Forces' list published in 1941 lists 173 recruits from Murray Bridge (including three nurses) as well as recruits for Tailem Bend, Jervois and Mypolonga. (30 May 1941, p. 6) Occasionally local casualties and missing in action reports were printed. Some mild excitement was caused by the capture of an escaped internee at Monarto in 1941. (28 November 1941, p. 1, 5) Other war events covered included the defeat of a proposal to have a blackout in Murray Bridge (16 January 1942, p. 1), the collection of funds for the HMAS Sydney appeal (23 January 1942, p. 1) and the exhibiting of a Japanese midget submarine in Murray Bridge as a naval relief fund raiser. ( 2 April 1943, p. 2) News from two Mannum men who were POWs was printed in the Standard in 1943. (18 December 1943, p. 5) In 1944 'News of the fighting forces' and 'With the RAAF over Europe' columns began. During 1945 and 1946 regular advertisments requesting clothing and other aid for European war victims were printed in the newspaper.

With Australia's involvement in the Korean War from 1950, the federal government instituted another recruitment campaign. The Murray Bridge Council discussed ways to stimulate the local campaign. (27 October 1950, p. 1) Regular reporting of C.M.F. (Citizens Military Force) activities continued through the 1950s and 1960s, with local men photographed in training at Caloote (7 March 1952, p. 1) and an Army training depot opening at Murray Bridge in 1955. (2 December 1955, p 1) By 1960 there was a C.M.F. office at Murray Bridge, with regular recruiting advertisments in the newspaper. (16 December 1960, p. 5) Local men were serving in Thailand (11 May 1962, p. 1) and Malaya. (19 April 1963, p. 2; 3 July 1964, p. 7) By 1966 there were also local recruits stationed in Vietnam and Mel Roberts initiated a 'snapshots from home' service for them. (7 October 1966, p. 2) The experiences of a local nurse in Vietnam, Sister McLaren, were also described in the newspaper. (4 September 1969, p. 3)

Aborigines An open letter to Member for Angas, A.R. Downer, drew attention to the "inhuman conditions and treatment meted out to Aborigines in general" in 1957. The writer was R.J. Godfrey of Murray Bridge, (17 May 1957, p. 4) and responses and counter-responses followed. In 1962 a long speech by G. O'Halloran Giles about Aboriginal assimilation and self-respect was reported in the Standard. Many changes in laws relating to Aboriginal people were in the air and a senior welfare officer for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs visted Murray Bridge to explain the situation in 1963. (29 March 1963, p. 1) R.J. Godfrey wrote an article about David Unaipon for the Standard in 1967. (17 February 1967, p. 14) The 'Lower Valley Nungas Club' was formed in 1974 (17 October 1974, p. 2) and an Aboriginal Community Centre in 1975. (16 January 1975, p. 17) Both were commended by Charles Perkins when he visited in 1977. (24 November 1977, p. 20) An Aboriginal country music festival was held at Murray Bridge in 1978. (2 February 1978, p. 1) Later that year the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship opened Emmanuel Church at Murray Bridge. (1 June 1978, p. 5) Clashes between the government and the Ralkon farmers are reported many times from 1980. (25 September 1980, p. 1, 42; 30 April 1981, p. 1; 6 April 1985, p. 1; 2 July 1985, p. 1) A series of articles about the Lower Murray Aboriginal community at Point McLeay and Murray Bridge were published in a special feature in 1982. (8 June 1982, p. 2-3) A scheme for young Aboriginal offenders implemented locally was commended in 1986. (20 March 1986, p. 1) The Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy received some coverage in the Standard. (8 June 1995, p. 1) Death of Ngarrindjeri elder Laura Kartinyeri was reported in 1995. (22 June 1995, p. 12)

Local government The Standard, like most country newspapers, has always devoted plenty of space to local government matters, freely voicing Council concerns as well as community concerns about Council decisions. In 1969 two women stood for local councils for the first time, but unsuccessfully - at Murray Bridge and Karoonda. (3 July 1969, p. 1; 10 July 1969, p. 1) The two councils of Murray Bridge and Mobilong merged in 1976, following several years of discussions. (7 April 1977, p. 1) In 1977 two police patrols attended the Meningie Council meeting at which the District Clerk was being given notice, but despite fears, all in attendance remained calm. (8 December 1977, p. 1) In 1980 Mrs Ronda Minge became Murray Bridge's first woman mayor. (10 July 1980, p. 1) She remained in office until 1987. (9 March 1987, p. 1) Mayor Toni Robinson was blamed for rate increases in 1995, with a petition and an angry public protest meeting. (1 August 1995, p. 1-2)

Migrant community From July 1962 until 1965 the Standard published a weekly column of brief news items written in Italian, "Because we think reading a local newspaper is an important step towards assimilation ..." (24 August 1962, p. 7) In 1981 sixteen Vietnamese refugees were the first of this community to arrive in the town. (2 April 1981, p. 2)

Railway and road traffic In early 1949 there was some discontent about the Murray Bridge rail service, with a rash of letters to the editor. The Standard editorial took up the theme and discussed "Road versue rail". (4 February 1949, p. 2) However in 1949 an improved bus service to the city was welcomed, after "years" of negotiating and lobbying with the government. (9 September 1949, p. 1) In 1952 the Murray Bridge Council took proactive action on the influx of inter-state transport vehicles passing through the town. Many of the truck drivers were sleeping in unofficial staging camps at the western end of the town. The Council decided to define a campsite for the truckies, rather than having trucks parked all around the town at night. (2 May 1952, p. 1) From the 1960s there was much concern all over Australia with the escalating road toll. The Standard published editorials on the subject (2 June 1961, p. 2), as well as reporting tragic fatalities near the town. The gradual demise of rail transport was a special concern at Tailem Bend where so many residents were railway employees, affected by major retrenchments in 1984. (15 March 1984, p. 1)

Local businesses The switch factory of Oliver Nilsen was described in an article complete with a photograph in 1948. (6 August 1948, p. 9) This was one of a series about "local industries" which continued into 1949. A whole page, also with photographs, celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Strathalbyn-based Bell's store. (19 August 1949, p. 3) Bells had become a Myer store by 1965. Local bread delivery or a community bakery was demanded at a protest meeting of 400 Mannum residents in 1949. This followed a decision by the town's bakers not to deliver bread any more due to increased wages and staff cuts. (21 October 1949, p. 1, 8) The year 1956 saw Male Brothers' new implement factory opened (20 January 1956, p. 1), planning for the Bridge's first motel (28 September 1956, p.1) and air conditioning introduced at Hoyt's Ozone Theatre. (ibid) Large crowds attended the opening of Murray Bridge's first supermarket, Woolworths, in 1957. (8 February 1957, p. 1) Cox-Foys followed by opening a branch in the town a year later. (12 December 1958, p. 3) And in 1959 the Riverview Drive-In theatre opened. (13 March 1959, p. 6) Woolworths opened with some fanfare in a new building in 1964 (24 April 1964, p. 9-12) and included Beatles memorabilia in its advertisements. (29 May 1964, p. 9) A spate of new buildings and new businesses came through the 1960s. Hooper's Furniture store was renovated and Bennett and Fisher's announced plans to build in 1960. (4 November 1960, p. 1; 11 November 1960, p. 10-11; p. 1) A local cannery employing 150 was one of the earliest factories in the district in 1965 (22 January 1965, p. 1), but closed in August 1966. A chicken processing plant opened in 1967. (11 July 1967, p. 7) In 1986 the Southern Framers milk factory at Murray Bridge announced $1 million extensions, expected to more than double its size. (19 June 1986, p. 1)

Ned Dutton of Dutton Motors began his long-running car column in 1960, running for several years. In 1970 Chris Dutton began writing a column about buying used cars. The advertisments of this, and later competing car firms also, were a prominent feature of the Standard. In 2003 Eddie Dutton sold the business to his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Jock Dowling. (7 August 2003, p. 31)

An old business practice was discontinued in 1971 when the retirement of the driver of Klingbiel's bakery horse an cart retired, so that the horse-drawn deliveries ceased. (21 October 1971, p. 1) From the 1980s real estate advertisments, although appearing in the Standard for some years already, became increasingly prominent, as in most other country newspapers from this period. By 2003 the newspaper included a large 'entertainment' section publicising acts and shows at the hotels and other venues in Murray Bridge. The Murray Bridge drive-in shut down after 46 years. (8 February 2005, p. 1)

Developments A new library at Murray Bridge was built in 1967. (27 January 1967, p. 1; 7 December 1967, p. 13) The first rumours of a third bridge - which was eventually to be the bridge at Swanport, part of the Eastern Freeway development, came in 1967. (6 July 1967, p. 1) The site was confirmed in 1969, without local input, the Standard complained. (27 Februray 1969, p. 1; 31 July 1969, p. 1) The National Trust propsed the bridge be given an appropriate Aboriginal name. (4 September 1969, p. 2, 9) Work began in 1975. (5 June 1975, p. 1) The bridge was opened in 1979, marking the end of South Australia's "biggest ever highway engineering project." (31 May 1979, p. 1)

In 1967 the telephone exchange went automatic and the Standard printed a photograph of the soon to be redundant telephonists. (27 July 1967, p. 1) Mrs Ruby Popplewell worked the Swan Reach exchange until her retirement in 1981. (9 July 1981, p. 1) After some controversy a Senior Citizens complex was built at Murray Bridge in 1979. (31 May 1979, p. 7)

In early 1984 concern was raised about a proposed prison near Murray Bridge. (24 January 1984, p. 8-9) This eventually became the Mobilong Prison, completed in 1987. (27 November 1986, p. 10)

Monarto A special four-page free issue of the Standard proclaimed with some excitement the announcement by Premier Don Dunstan of the planned 'satellite city' at Monarto in early 1972. (29 March 1972, p. 7) For over a year regular articles reported Monarto proposals and discussions. The tide of excitement turned a little in mid 1973 when on the front page of the Standard was published Mayor Doecke's comment that, "The Government of the day is Hell-bent on promoting Monarto and not one bit concerned about the future of Murray Bridge." (3 July 1973, p. 1) The Council claimed that the state government was holding off approval for developments in the town which might detract from the planned new city. Mount Barker Council had similar concerns. (23 August 1973, p. 16) It was claimed that by 1979 there would be a population of 20,000 at Monarto. (2 October 1973, p. 1) In 1974 the local acting group, Bridge Players, wrote a production called 'Up Monarto.' (5 December 1974, p. 1) As is well-known, the development did not go ahead, with land being offered back to the farmers it had been acquired  from, and eventually the Monarto Zoo was established on part of the site, in 1983, initially as a breeding zoo for the Adelaide Zoo.

Celebrations and tourism The first Weerama (meaning 'to play') Festival was planned for Murray Bridge on the Australia Day week-end in 1969. (23 January 1969, p. 1) In 1971 the Weerama committee decided to approach Bob and Dolly Dyer of the TV show 'Pick a box' to open the festival. (13 May 1971, p. 5) In the end it was Premier Don Dunstan who performed the ceremony. Weerama became a regular event, and continues to be held in March each year.

The Murray Bridge Bunyip came into being in 1972 as a "world first." (3 February 1972, p. 1) A photograph and poem about 'Bert' the Bunyip were published together. (21 January 1972, p. 3) Work began on the famous Butterfly House in 1987. (21 July 1987, p. 1)

Crime In 1943 two men from Adelaide were jailed for stealing a car and driving at 70 mph (112 k). (27 August 1943, p. 1) In 1956 the editor wrote that "Murray Bridge has been gloriously free" of "the bodgy and widgy evil," until a group visited at Easter. However the local police "soon showed them the way out." 13 April 1956, p. 2)

Schools and children Many country newspapers published regular school reports, often in a dedicated column. The Standard printed a 'Green and gold' column with school news from the mid 1970s. In 1980 'Spotlight on your school' was added, reporting specifically on the Murray Bridge High School. A page of puzzles for children with a letter from 'Uncle Bert' was inaugurated in 1983. The letter was discontinued after a few months, but the page continued for some time. A children's column 'Murray Magpie's kids corner' began in 1995, with puzzles, colouring competions, birthday photos and occasional children's drawings.

In 1984 two teachers were held at Murray Bridge High School during a two-hour seige by a gunman. (9 February 1984, p. 1)

Photographs Occasional photographs appear in the early years of the newspaper, usually portraits of parliamentary candidates. One of the first local photographs was in an advertisment for Bell's store. (21 June 1940, p. 5) A photograph of the new Mannum Council Chamber was also published in the newspaper in that year. (13 September, 1940, p. 7) During the Second World War official War Office photographs were supplied to newspapers, and the Standard published those which showed local men on active duty.

After the Second World War there was little local photographic content for some years. A photograph of the entrants in the Miss Murray Bridge contest appeared in 1953 (13 March 1953, p. 1), and during the second half of 1957 many more local photographs were included sporadically in the Standard. From 1958 there was usually a photograph of a local event on the front page. Interesting photographs of the building of Noske's new grain storage bins were published in the Standard in 1960. (5 August 1960, p. 1)

The first sport 'action' photographs (depicting football) were published in the Standard in 1960. (14 April 1960, p. 1) By 1966 the newspaper was publishing action photographs in its reporting of a range of local sports - football, basketball, rowing, golf, hockey. The first wedding photo seems to have been of Mayor E.W. Doecke's daughter in 1962. (9 March 1962, p. 2) One of the earliest news photographs depicted a truck carrying hay turned on its side (while stationary) at the railway station. (9 February 1962, p. 1) Mothers and babies photographs began in 1973.

From 1962 photos of used cars began to be used in advertisments for Dutton Motors.

Local cartoonists Cartoons by local man Don Wood began in the Standard in September 1964. These were all interesting comments on local topics but lasted only until early 1965. In 1977-1978 cartoons by 'Bellamy' under the title 'Mr Percival' each contained a pelican commenting on an issue. 'Farmtec funnies' was the title of a cartoon appearing under the name of a local agricultural equipment firm in 1991, which may have been by a local artist.

Murray Bridge talking newspaper This service for the blind began in 1975. Its founder, Dorothy Howard, was recognised for her work with an Advance Australia award in 1991. By this time the service had 35 volunteers reading excerpts from the Standard and Adelaide newspapers onto tapes for 40 recipients. (21 February 1991, p. 1)

Alternative newspaper In 1971 a second Murray Bridge newspaper, the Bridge observer, was established in direct competiton to the Standard. From July 1974 this was printed by Bridge Printing, the business operation which owned the Standard, effectively ending what had at times been a bitter rivalry. The Observer was published as a Tuesday edition of the Standard until 1976.

Ownership Former Liberal M.P., local auctioneer, and Murray Bridge's first mayor, Maurice Parish, purchased the printing business of Bert Lawrie in 1934, and employed Lawrie to print a newspaper. Frank Hambidge of the South eastern star and South eastern times was the first editor. The Mount Barker courier had previously covered Murray Bridge news with a local office and two pages in each of its issues titled 'Murray Bridge advertiser', together with a lengthy 'Mannum mercury' column. The Courier was apparently not happy about the new local paper, but soon sold the titles and goodwill for this part of their coverage to Parish. While Frank Hambidge was away in the AIF during the Second World War, Clarrie Cooke was editor.

In 1950 Parish sold the newspaper and printing business to his editor, Frank Hambidge. (29 September 1950, p. 1) Hambidge had left the Standard in 1941 to enlist in the War, and then worked on newspapers in Tasmania until returning to Murray Bridge in 1950. Parish continued to have some input into the paper with such items as a travel column in 1967. By 1955, 2500 copies of the Standard were being printed weekly. (11 November 1955, p. 1) In 1967 Frank Hambidge retired, handing over the editor's role to his son-in-law Ray Wells, and general management to his son Michael Hambidge. R.D. Channon, who had worked at Bridge Print since he was a teenager, continued in charge of the workroom and general printing. (7 April 1967, p. 2) Also in 1967, the Standard was the first South Australian country newspaper printed by the Web-Offset method. Circulation was up to 7,450 in 1971. (30 September 1971, p. 3) Ray Wells resigned in April 1973, when Michael Hambidge was briefly editor until Terry Wilksch took over. Wilksch remained editor until the newspaper was taken over by Rural Press. (29 November 1994, p. 15)

Rural Press first bought shares in the newspaper in 1986, finally taking over full control in December 1994. Under Rural Press, Graham Rich, previously of the Victor Harbour Times, became editor of the Standard. In 2003 Jane Kempe was editor. A year later Travis Simmons took over.

References: 'The Standard changes hands', Murray Valley standard, 29 September 1950, p. 1; 'First editor's last issue,' Murray Valley standard, 7 April 1967, p. 2; 'We started as a one man business,' Murray Valley standard, 21 November 1974, p. 16-17; 'Fifty years of steady growth,' Murray Valley standard, 29 March 1984, p. 17-24; Farrell, Tom, 'Everyone wanted the Standard,' Murray Valley standard, 20 November 1984, supp. p. 3 

Related names :

Cooke, Clarrie

Hambidge, Frank

Parish, Maurice

Rich, Graham

Wells, Ray

Mannum mercury (Mannum, S. Aust.)

Mount Barker courier (Mount Barker, S. Aust.)

Rural Press Ltd. (North Richmond, N.S.W.)

Smedley Press

Southern argus (Strathalbyn, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1969
Place : Murray Bridge (S. Aust.)
Region : Riverland and Murraylands
Further reading :

Farrell, Tom. 'Everyone wanted the standard,' Murray Valley standard , 20 November 1984, supplement

McLaren, Harold. The Murray Valley standard and other Murray Bridge newspapers, Murray Bridge, S. Aust.: Harold G. McLaren, 2004



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