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Newspapers

The Three Towns 

The earliest newspaper on the Yorke Peninsula was the Wallaroo times, begun in 1865, in the midst of a strike by men working the Wallaroo smelters. The newspaper was begun by experienced newspaper men, the Taylor twins - Andrew and David.

... When other far less important districts in the colony, such as Tanunda and Kapunda, can support their local newspapers, it would be a disgrace to Yorkes Peninsula and to South Australia, if in this great mining district ... with a population approaching 8000, a newspaper could not be kept up (Wallaroo times, 1 February 1865, p. 2).

Just a few years later, in 1872, Edward Derrington started up the Yorke's Peninsula advertiser at Moonta. Like the Times, the Advertiser was published twice weekly. In 1890 Stratton's People's weekly was started up, also at Moonta, and in 1895 John Southwood added his Yorke's Peninsula plain dealer at Kadina - so that the 'three towns' of the Peninsula were well covered.

These newspapers included coverage of the multitude of smaller towns and farming districts across the Peninsula. 'Country correspondents', residents of the various smaller localities, sent local news items to the newspapers for publication. In 1878 the Yorkes Peninsula advertiser had 40 of these correspondents (Yorkes peninsula advertiser, 28 May 1878, p. 2). However, at least 70 small and large settlements reported news at one time or another in its pages. These ranged from tiny places such as Cocoanut and Humbug Scrub, to the larger towns of Ardrossan and Yorketown. The other newspapers had a smaller number of correspondents. Some correspondents were clearly more prolific than others, or the newspapers over time reported news more regularly from some places than others. The Times, as well as news from the three towns, gave more particular coverage to towns including Snowtown and Paskeville. The Advertiser also gave more coverage to Snowtown, as well as Maitland and Green's Plains. The Plain dealer gave its extra coverage to Paskeville, Green's Plains, Beetaloo and Tickera.

The Yorke Peninsula newspapers had many things in common. Coverage of the mines - by far the main economic focus of the district until the mines closed in 1923 - was exhaustive. The strikes, rise and fall of world demand for copper, the (sadly) regular accidents, and the general lives of the miners and their families, were the major component of much of the newspapers' content. The majority of the miners were Cornish, and the newspapers reflected the particular customs and even dialect of this large group. The Plain dealer and the People's weekly particularly showed this. The Cornish were a people who loved music, and the activities of bands, choirs and local composers such as Joseph Glasson, were all reported in the newspapers. The annual Moonta musical competitions started in 1906. By 1909 these included 220 entries performing over 15 nights (Yorke's Peninsula advertiser, 3 December 1909, p. 3). The other preoccupation of the Cornish community was religion, in particular Methodism, with a proliferation of large churches. The churches were given a head start in 1874/1875 with some remarkable revivals that took place, as reported in the South Australian Bible Christian magazine in those years. It was said that 1,500 people were converted in this wave. Certainly church membership apparently went up by at least 300.

Another favourite newspaper topic was sport. A major function of country newspapers has been coverage of local sport, to an ever increasing degree, perhaps particularly since the early 20th century. The Times and Advertiser gave particularly strong coverage to sport. The three main sports seemed to be cricket, football and, from 1896, cycling. The cycling craze eventually died away, but remained strong for some years. The Times was also a good forum for horse racing.

Smaller community newspapers

Other towns on the Yorke Peninsula started their own newspapers a little later. The Ardrossan news ran for a few months in 1911.

 

Ardrossan news
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Copper age
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Kadina & Wallaroo times
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Plain dealer
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Yorkes Peninsula advertiser
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