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Southern Argus
Title : Southern Argus Southern Argus
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Source : Southern Argus, 29 September 1866, p. 1
Date of creation : 1866
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 580 x 455 mm
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Description :

Geographical coverage
Births, deaths and marriages
Editorial content
Hindmarsh Island Bridge
River Murray
Children's column and children
Town improvements and businesses
Major events
Motor vehicles

The Southern Argus is one of the state's oldest country newspapers, and one of only a handful of country newspapers still privately owned. For 140 years it has been run by the Elliott and Jones families. The newspaper was founded in 1866 by Ebenezer Ward, who like many others at the time expected that the young southern port, Port Elliot, was going to become a thriving outlet for the River Murray trade. Using the original Observer printing press, Ward set up a newspaper in the little coastal town. But in April 1868, following financial difficulties and ownership changes, the Argus moved to Strathalbyn. It has been published from there ever since.

 Geographical coverage Since 1868 the newspaper has concentrated on Strathalbyn and environs. But at various periods it has covered a wider area, particularly in the nineteenth century. During the first 100 years the main coverage extended to: Wellington, Finniss, Langhorne Creek, Meadows, Point McLeay, Nairne, Murray Bridge, Milang, Goolwa and Victor Harbour. Occasionally specific town news columns were published, such as for Murray Bridge from 1908 to 1909, and Encounter Bay from September 1911 to August 1912 - the Encounter Bay column stopped when the Victor Harbour times was established as an offshoot to the Southern argus from August 1912. The establishment of other local newspapers saw a shrinking of the original broad coverage. From the mid 1970s changes included a widened district coverage with Willunga and the Southern Vales, as well as Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills receiving attention.

 Births, deaths and marriages From the 1870s death notices were printed on page 2. An unusual notice appeared in 1867 when Mr Dalziel of Currency Creek placed a notice for the death of his dog Joe, aged 14 years. (2 February 1867, p. 3) Death and occasional marriage notices appeared more regularly during the First World War, under the heading 'Domestic announcements.' Detailed obituaries, as well as descriptions of weddings, also began from this period. In 1917, the obituary of pioneer Matthew Rankine included his photograph. (1 November 1917, p. 2) An engagement notice appeared in the newspaper in 1926, possibly the first to be printed in the Argus. (29 April 1926, p. 2) Short local obituaries were published as a column in the 1950s, and were a regular feature from 1975 until about 1993. From 1995 quite substantial obituaries of local identities, often including photographs, were published.

An apparently unique feature were the 'At home' notices. For example, in May 1923 Mrs J. McIntosh announced that she was at home at the Methodist Manse on Wednesday 16 May, and Mrs Richard Giles was at home at 'Glenbarr' on every fourth Tuesday from May until November, 'inclusive.' (10 May 1923, p. 2) 'Not at homes,' also appeared, "Mrs A.J. Sands will NOT be at home on Friday, June 27th." (26 June 1924, p. 3)

From 1933 long wedding descriptions and obituaries were written. From the mid 1960s detailed wedding descriptions became a feature of the newspaper, and included photographs from 1973. (A Marriage Counselling Service opened at Strathalbyn in 1976, one year after the passing of the Family Law Act. (9 December 1976, p. 1)) Mother and baby photos were also published from the mid 1970s. In 1981 21st birthday photographs appeared, and engagement photographs were another short-lived innovation in 1993.

From November 1974 until the late 1970s a 'Personality of the week' article featured interesting biographies (with photographs) of Strathalbyn people. The subjects were mostly older local residents. Later the column included people from other towns.

 Editorial content Like most of the early country newspapers, the Argus was keen to promote projects that might lead to greater prosperity and better facilities for the district. For this reason the paper gave a lot of attention to the extension of the local railway network in the 1860s and 1870s. South Australia's first public railway had opened between Port Elliot and Goolwa in 1854. In 1866 the Argus recorded the turning of the first sod for its extension from Middleton to Strathalbyn. (4 August 1866, p. 2) 'The Southern tramways' was a topic for letters, reports and editorial comment for the twenty years that it took to complete the line all the way to the city. In 1881 200 businessmen from the south, "the largest deputation that ever waited on the South Australian Government," met with the Premier and the Commissioner of Public Works, pushing for the work to be completed. (21 July 1881, p. 2) An interesting article, 'Amongst the navvies by one of them,' described working on the railway. (19 July 1883, p. 3)

The Murray Bridge works were reported from 1870, when an editorial announced a parliamentary report of possible sites for the new bridge. (12 November 1870, p. 2) From the founding of the town there were regular reports in the Argus, particularly from 1887, such as the report of a railway ganger named Garrett killed when he rode his tricycle into a train. (21 July 1887, p. 3) A series about the history of the bridge building were published in 1973 when foundations were being laid for the new Swanport Bridge. (27 September 1973, p. 4)

The 1970s saw the closure of many country railways as increased road transport brought a downturn in rail passenger and freight traffic. The Argus reported every step of the battle to save the Adelaide to Victor Harbour line (which passed through Strathalbyn) from the first closure rumours in 1975. (30 January 1975, p. 1) The Argus was outspoken in its condemnation of the proposal. "Statements, assurances, denials, have all become part of the daily life of this public transport link ..." (10 February 1977, p. 1) Despite protests, the last Victor Harbour passenger train ran on 27 April 1984 with 300 passengers. (3 May 1984, p. 1) Four months later the first Steamranger tourist steam train made the Adelaide to Victor Harbour trip, also with 300 passengers. (23 August 1984, p. 1)

The Argus was not supportive of the conversion to metric measures. Under the heading 'Metrification - a tragic blunder,' the newspaper claimed that 'recent surveys' showed the conversion "has been a harmful experience and a dismal failure." (8 December 1977, p. 1) The Argus also reported on more local controversies such as the 1987 outcry over a proposed Drug Therapeutic Centre at Ashbourne. (23 July 1987, p. 6; 30 July 1987, p. 2) In 1989 there were issues at Goolwa over the management of the newly opened Signal Point Museum. (24 August 1989, p. 1)

There were surprisingly few letters to the editor until late in the twentieth century. In 1972 a small flurry of letters complained about the re-introduction of daylight saving. (18 May 1972, p. 1) There was also no editorial for many years, until the 'Southern argus essay' column began in 1975. In 1991, about the time that Donald Jones became editor, a stream of letters protested against the Iraq War. The main writers were Kathie Davie, Patrick Secker, Derek Fenton and L. Wakefield. (Secker later entered parliament.) By the mid 1990s, a whole page was regularly devoted to letters.

The printing format evolved over the years. A larger type face and less cluttered layout was used from 11 July 1935. From 1 August 1935 the front page was no longer mostly advertisements, but instead was used for news stories - the modern style which has remained until today. A month later the newspaper changed size to tabloid, with eight pages instead of four. (19 September 1935) A photograph of the new printing press was published in the newspaper in 1974. (20 June 1974, p. 1) Colour printing was first used in the Argus as an advertisement for colour televisions in 1975 (1 May 1975, p. 7), but has now become the norm.

 Editors Fred Robertson was editor in 1914 and probably had been in that position for some time. Cecil Elliot was editor until his death in 1969. He was followed by Allan Durward, who retired in 1974, when Murray Jones became editor. (7 November 1974, p. 1) Jones was the son of Cecil Elliot's partner, George Jones. When Murray Jones died in 1991, his son Donald took over the editor's job. (17 October 1991, p. 2) An advertisement in 1993 named Doug Robertson in charge of the editorial department. (18 February 1993, p. 27)

 HindmarshIsland Bridge In the long history of the Argus, the most controversial and drawn-out issue reported by the newspaper was the building of the Hindmarsh Island bridge at Goolwa. The Hindmarsh Island marina project under Binalong Pty Ltd was announced in April 1990, with the State Government agreeing to pay half the cost of the construction of a bridge from Hindmarsh Island to the mainland, up to a ceiling of $3 million. (19 April 1990, p. 1) The first indication of the furore that was to erupt came in a lengthy article in 1993, describing the division in the small island community over the plan. (15 July 1993, p. 1, 3) A public meeting at Goolwa drew attention to possible Aboriginal burial and other sacred sites (14 October 1993, p. 1), and one month later fifty protestors halted construction work. A ban was placed on further work while the State Aboriginal Heritage Division investigated possible Aboriginal burials. (4 November 1993, p. 1, 10) Five hundred protestors rallied on the steps of Parliament House the following March. (31 March 1994, p. 1, 2) Federal Aboriginal Affairs minister, Robert Tickner, then issued a halt to construction pending a full report on the impact on local Aboriginal heritage. (19 May 1994, p. 2) The Argus voiced strong opinions, calling for the 'fiasco' to end 'immediately,' and feared there would be violence between the two opposing groups. (9 June 1994, p. 2) By this point the developers, with debts of $15 million, were facing bankruptcy. (16 June 1994, p. 1, 6) The whole issue received national media coverage, although the two local newspapers, the Argus and the VictorHarbourtimes, were closest to the action.

Seven years after the project started, the Southern argus wrote emotively,

... this farce will continue and more taxpayers' money will be wasted on yet another inquiry ... All South Australians are heartily sick of this seemingly never-ending saga. (13 February 1997, p. 1)

Construction of the bridge finally began on 25 October 1999, nine years after the project was first announced. The Argus reported that the final cost of the originally planned $6.8 million bridge had escalated to $14.2 million. It was officially opened on 4 March 2001 by Alexandrina Mayor Kym McHugh and local member Dean Brown M.P. (8 March 2001, p. 1, 6) The controversy continued when the Argus mis-reported the Mayor's speech in regard to his comments about the Ngarrindjeri women, and a retraction was published the following week. (15 March 2001, p. 2)

 Politics The editors and owners of the Argus have not generally expressed strong political views in their columns. During the troubled 1890s, when unrest throughout Australia due to drought and unemployment culminated in 'the shearer's strike' and the maritime strike at Port Adelaide, the Southern argus wrote, "To strike is the order of the day." (28 August 1890, p. 2) On the subject of legislation banning 'Asiatic' hawkers in 1893, the Argus said that it, "may be worthy of darkest Russia and other despotic places, but is decidedly unworthy of a ... nation priding itself on its freedom and justice ..." (13 July 1893, p. 2)

From May 1895 CH Hussey of Port Elliot contributed a series of articles about 'Democracy,' followed by 'Our Parliament and politics.' In 1897 he discussed 'The Federal Convention,' at length, and in 1898 the 'Commonwealth Bill' (Federation). Hussey was a member of Parliament from 1887 to 1890. 'Jottings and comments by Onlooker' was a column of political commentary published in 1900, and another political column, by 'Speed the plough,' appeared in 1906. For a few years there was a WCTU (Woman's Christian Temperance Union) column. (This body was a strong political force in the 1880s and 1890s.) A short lived column in 1914, 'Wise and otherwise by Cassius,' contained political news and comments.

Federation provoked mixed feelings in the south. There was "no real interest" at Victor Harbour,

Most electors about here will vote No, on the ground that it is too expensive, too cumbersome, and too dangerous ... Freetrade anywhere is good, but we don't want Victorian rubbish to kill our industries, such as they are, but we want freetrade with England, the country that takes our produce. Such is some of the talk, but time will show. (21 April 1898, p. 2)

In 1915 the newspaper expressed disapproval of strikes, particularly while Australia was at war. "We have little sympathy with strikes under the best of conditions, regarding them as cruel, oppressive and unjust methods of seeking adjustment of disputes." (18 February 1915, p. 2) When a state election brought a new premier, the Argus was angry about the change and blamed it on universal suffrage,

... every nomadic workman, loafer, tramp, or agitator, without a farthing's stake in the state, has the right to-day to go to the polls, though he may be gone forever to-morrow. (1 April 1915, p. 2)

The country readers of the Argus tended to be conservative, rather than Labor voters. The National Defence League (a nineteenth century conservative political group) had a branch at Victor Harbour, and probably in other towns. (29 April 1909, p. 3) Although a branch of the United Labor Party was established in the electoral district of Alexandra (7 September 1911, p. 3), the ubiquitous Liberal Union dominated with branches all around the south from 1911, even in small places such as Inman Valley (28 September 1911, p. 3) and Langhorne's Creek. (5 October 1911, p. 3) Regular reports from the branches appeared in the Argus. Women's branches were especially active.

There were both women's and men's branches of the LCL (Liberal and Country League) in Strathalbyn by 1959. (26 June 1959, p. 3, 9) From 1957 to 1970 Dr Jim Forbes, the local Federal (Liberal) member for the district of Barker, had a column in the Argus. Later, Liberal member Alexander Downer also had a column, and Downer update, his four page newspaper, was printed by the Argus and included (irregularly) from 25 May 2000. From December 1977 the newspaper published a series of articles by the pro-uranium campaigner, John C. Grover, who claimed that uranium waste could be disposed of safely.

 River Murray From its earliest issues the Argus realised that the River Murray was vital to the life of the district for transport, communication and economic development. The shipping trade at Goolwa funnelled produce from the inland farms to markets both at home and abroad. The Argus, sometimes angrily, promoted the need for an ocean port on the south coast. (9 September 1875, p. 3; 25 July 1878, p. 2) The idea of building a canal from Goolwa to Victor Harbour was first floated in 1874 (25 June 1874, p. 2-3), and has surfaced periodically almost ever since. In 1903 riverboat captain turned member of parliament, George Ritchie, raised the scheme again. (10 September 1903, p. 2) In 1951 the Argus re-discovered the canal proposal, and drew attention to it "with the idea of trying once again to secure some real and practical use for one of the finest waterways in the world." (19 April 1951, p. 8)

In 1890 John Howard Angas proposed a system of locks at the Murray Mouth to control river flow. His plan involved locks on the three channels: Goolwa, Mundoo and the Coorong. The Engineer-in-Chief presented a detailed report to Parliament (31 July 1890, p. 2), but no action was taken until 1914 when an American engineer arrived to supervise construction of the first lock further inland, at Blanchetown. (23 July 1914, p. 3) This was completed in September (17 September 1914, p. 3) and named the 'William R. Randell lock.' (10 June 1915, p. 3) Angas' original plan for building barrages at Goolwa to control sea water entering the river did not come into fruition until November 1934 when the building of the Goolwa barrages commenced. (8 November 1934, p. 4) Members of the River Murray Commission visiting Milang in 1930 were informed that until ten or twelve years before, Lake Alexandrina had contained freshwater, but now it was almost constantly salty, "the reduced flow of the Murray from the upper reaches naturally accounting for lower lake levels." Mr Eaton of the Commission admitted that the other states "refused to listen to South Australia on the matter." (29 May 1930 p. 3) A reunion of men who worked on the Goolwa barrages attracted 300 people in 1998. (12 March 1998, p. 1, 2)

With the demise of shipping at Goolwa and Victor Harbour came the rise of the fishing trade all along the river and south coast. A long article describing the Goolwa fishing industry appeared in 1886. (9 September 1886, p. 3) In 1892 the Argus stated that there were now 30 fishing boats at Goolwa. (21 April 1892, p. 3) But by the 1990s fishing methods had changed enormously and there were very few local operations. When new government regulations for net fishing looked like spelling the end for two long-time local fishermen, Nobby Clark of Port Elliot, and Roger Tugwell of Victor Harbour, amendments were made to allow them to continue. (18 January 1996, p. 7) In 1999 the Southern Fishermen's Association received an award for their commitment to the environment, including their environmental management plan. (6 May 1999, p. 1)

The Murray River Queen was the first of a fleet of reproduction paddle-steamers, reflecting the growth of river tourism from the 1970s. The Argus commented on school children present at the 'commissioning' of the Queen booing Premier Don Dunstan - perhaps due to his being a Labor premier in a Liberal heartland. (28 March 1974, p. 1) By 1981 four more vessels had been added to the 'Murray River Developments' fleet - the Murray explorer, Aroona, Mary Ann, and the Islander. (1 October 1981, p. 1) The P.S. Mundoo was built in 1987. (25 June 1987, p. 1; 6 August 1987, p. 1)

In 1981 with water levels dropping drastically in the lower stretches of the river, the Save the Murray Campaign Council was formed.

Not only has the river ceased to flow in this State but the level of salinity is steadily rising to the extent which will damage South Australian agriculture and horticulture and could seriously affect our water for domestic and industrial use. (21 May 1981, p. 1)

This was the year that the mouth of the river famously closed over completely. Through dredging it was re-opened. The Australian newspaper arranged a summit at Goolwa in 2001 to discuss 'Saving the River Murray.' Premier John Olsen signed an agreement for the State Government to spend $100 million over seven years to save the river and fight salinity (1 March 2001, p. 12), but members of the Democrats were concerned that the Coorong was not included in the plan. (9 August 2001, p. 3) The issue continues to be of major concern.

From time to time there were drownings and other tragedies in the river. In 1939 four men drowned when their car went off the road at Pelican Point near Meningie. (29 March 1939, p. 1) In 1973 a young man jumped into the river at Goolwa to save an eight year old girl. Both were swept away and drowned. (11 October 1973, p. 1) In 1983 a well-known Victor Harbour fisherman for 60 years, George Ewen, drowned. (5 May 1983, p. 19) A scout kayaking expedition ended in tragedy in 1987 when a scout leader, a father, and two scouts were drowned in Lake Alexandrina. (27 August 1987, p. 1)

 Aboriginal Coverage of local Aboriginal communities mostly related to the Point McLeay mission. In 1876 'Wellingtonian' wrote to the editor complaining bitterly about the Rev. George Taplin not allowing the public open access to the mission, which he claimed was public property. (30 March 1876, p. 3) A detailed description of the mission by a visitor was published in the Argus in 1898. (21 April 1898, p. 3) A report of the mission written by one of its members appeared in the newspaper in 1903. (16 July 1903, p. 3) In 1893 a group of fourteen Point McLeay Aborigines visited Port Victor and Port Elliot on a concert tour. (15 June 1893, p. 3) By this time Point McLeay was beset with funding difficulties, the small government grant not being enough to support the 240 Aboriginal people living there, and there were many attempts at self-funding. The mission children performed a series of concerts in Adelaide in 1902. (20 November 1902, p. 2) The Argus in an editorial in 1907, outlined the ongoing financial difficulties of the Aborigines' Friends' Association, who ran the mission. (11 April 1907, p. 2) In 1911 mission members visited the Strathalbyn Methodist Church, where David Unaipon played the organ and gave his 'testimony' - as did William Kropinyeri and Phillip Rigney. (16 February 1911, p. 3) Lois O'Donoghue, well-known representative of the Australian Aboriginal community, was living at Strathalbyn in 1985 when she was named Australian Citizen of the Year. (31 January 1985, p. 2)

 Sport From the beginning the Argus gave good coverage to local sport. As with most newspapers, this has now become an important weekly focus. A few months after the newspaper was founded, the Port Elliot Cricket Club was formed. (1 December 1866, p. 2) Even the smallest settlements had cricket teams in this early period, and matches were reported in detail in the newspaper. By 1898 there were junior cricket clubs at Strathalbyn and Milang. (20 January 1898, p. 3) At Woodchester on Good Friday 1924, a unique game was played, between eleven members of the Harvey family "and the rest of the team." (24 April 1924, p. 3) The local business of D. Bell and Co began a cricket team of its own in 1903 (29 January 1903, p. 3), and also had a football team (27 June 1907, p. 3; 9 April 1908, p. 3) and a tennis team. (15 October 1908, p. 3)

It was a few years before country football took over in popularity from cricket. In 1881 reports of local teams first began to appear, and by 1882 there was a regular football column. The game seems to have taken off suddenly and quickly in the country. In 1882 junior teams were mentioned at Middleton and Goolwa. (3 August 1882, p. 3) By 1887 football news was well covered in the Argus. 'Rover' wrote a football report for the newspaper from 1889 to 1894, followed by 'Imp' until 1898. The Hills Football Association came into existence before the First World War, with Strathalbyn as a member team. Later Strathalbyn moved to the Great Southern Football League. In 1949 an early player, William O'Connor, provided the Argus with some of the early history of the Strathalbyn Football Club. (16 June 1949, p. 3) A Schoolboys Football Association was formed in 1956. (26 April 1956, p. 1) By 1957 A and B grade matches were reported in the Argus. (9 May 1957, p. 4) Club centenaries saw interesting histories written for the newspaper, including the two oldest southern teams, Goolwa (6 July 1978, p. 10; 9 September 1993, p. 12 and 25 June 1998, p. 21), and Strathalbyn. (21 June 1979, p. 1, p. 8-9; 15 April 1993, p. 11) In the 1980s country football teams began devising nick-names, and from this time the Argus referred to the teams as Sharks, Roos, Hawks, Mud Larks, etc. A 'superules' football team was formed at Strathalbyn in 1988. This was a club for players aged over 35, and had Riverland, Murray Bridge, Blackwood and Adelaide Hills teams. (18 February 1988, p. 17)

Horse racing was the earliest sport indulged in by the pioneers. Races on the Middleton beach were reported in the Argus in 1867. (2 February 1867, p. 3) Annual races came to be arranged on public holidays, such as racing at Strathalbyn on the Prince of Wales' birthday. (1 November 1872, p. 2) By 1888 the Lower Murray Jockey Club was holding an annual race meeting at Murray Bridge. (8 November 1888, p. 2) A Murray Bridge race club was formed in 1898 (8 December 1898, p. 3) and the Monarto Race Club is mentioned in 1892. (1 December 1892, p. 3) In 1909 the Southern Racing Club was re-formed at Strathalbyn. (11 February 1909, p. 3) In 1957 a photo-finish tower with equipment was installed at the Strathalbyn race course. (20 June 1957, p. 1)

Through members of the Stirling family living at Strathalbyn, the Adelaide hounds came to hold annual meetings there. (13 July 1905, p. 3) The Adelaide and Murray Bridge Hunt Clubs visited Strathalbyn in 1949 (4 August 1949, p. 1) and this became a regular occurrence for many years. In 1957, 50 riders from Adelaide and Murray Bridge met at Strathalbyn. (4 July 1957, p. 5) Meets are still held at the present time. The Southern Coursing Club was in existence at least as early as 1884 when 'puppy stakes' were held on Hindmarsh Island. (15 May 1884, p. 2) Later Joseph Elliott in his 'Jottings' column described events he had attended there in 1872. (27 July 1922, p. 4)

Also through the Stirling family, the Strathalbyn Polo Club was formed in 1896. In 1898 a game against the Adelaide Polo Club is mentioned. (21 April 1898, p. 2) By 1902 there were two Strathalbyn teams. (13 February 1902, p. 3) Interesting photographs of a 1904 match were published in the Argus. (17 March 1904, p. 3) The club closed in 1962, but was re-formed in 1994. With 50 members in 1998, it was one of the largest polo clubs in Australia, and also had the largest female membership of any club in the country. (17 September 1998, p. 8)

With so many of the towns covered by the Argus being close to the sea or the Murray River, regattas and other water sports were naturally popular. Regattas were held at Victor Harbour on New Year's Day from the 1870s. (11 January 1877, p. 3) At Goolwa a regatta was held on Prince Alfred's birthday. (2 August 1877, p. 2) In 1872 'A Citizen' complained about men and boys swimming (presumably naked) in the river at Goolwa on 'the Sabbath' (Sunday) where residents taking a stroll might see them. Swimming became more popular from the 1890s. The Victor Harbour correspondent reported in 1901 that "the new baths have been found to be a great convenience." (10 January 1901, p. 2) In 1910 the Narrung correspondent wrote, "Mixed bathing will be indulged in this summer, and is becoming more popular every year." (1 December 1910, p. 3)

Water skiers created 'a lot of interest' at Milang in 1957. (10 January 1957, p. 1) Water sports increased from this time, particularly at Milang, Goolwa and Currency Creek. The advent of speedboats, competing with local fishing boats for space, saw the Argus editor suggesting the use of registered moorings at Milang in 1960. (7 January 1960, p. 1) In 1986 the annual Milang-Goolwa Freshwater Classic included 553 yachts. (30 January 1986, p. 1) This event began in 1966, and its history is recorded in the Argus. (24 January 1989, p. 12-13; 22 January 1998, p. 9) The Milang Yacht Club is thought to be the oldest in Australia, dating from August 1854 when a race was held between the Encounter Bay whaling fleet and the Goolwa fishing fleet. (26 January 1989, p. 9) A crowd of 3,500 were at Currency Creek in 1988 for the Goolwa Apex Jet Sprint. (3 March 1988, p. 1) In 1989 the Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival began, and by 1997 was a three day event. (20 March 1997, p. 1)

Rifle associations were popular from early years, with the Strathalbyn association receiving regular coverage, and celebrating its centenary in 1962. (21 June 1962, p. 1) Chess tournaments at Victor Harbour are mentioned from the formation of the club in 1881. (2 June 1881, p. 3) The Argus printed a chess problems column from the same year, which was still appearing intermittently in the 1970s and re-surfaced as a regular column in 1987. In 1889 there were skating rinks at the Strathalbyn Institute (6 June 1889, p. 2) and in the Port Victor Institute. (30 May 1889, 3) Prolific Strathalbyn poet 'Ferret' contributed an article, 'At the skating rink' to the Argus. (1 August 1889, p. 3) Cycling became enormously popular across South Australia in the 1890s. 'Cycling notes by A. Cyclist' appeared in 1894, describing competitions at Strathalbyn. (29 March 1894, p. 3) Many years later in 1984, an annual penny-farthing race was inaugurated at Strathalbyn. In 1987 the 'International Strathalbyn Penny-farthing Challenge' saw 54 riders entered in 11 events and the U.K. champion, Nick Bromage, present. (26 March 1987, p. 1; 12 March 1987, p. 1)

The earliest references in the Argus to women playing sport are in female cricket games. In 1904 the Port Elliot ladies' team played against a ladies' team from Adelaide. The reporter particularly mentioned Miss Colman, the local girl with the highest score on the day, whose father and grandfather had been well-known players in Strathalbyn and England. (14 January 1904, p. 3) The team also played against a team of men, whose handicap included bowling left-handed, and wearing women's dresses. (21 January 1904, p. 3) A similar match was played at Strathalbyn in April, but this time the women won. The Strathalbyn game and teams were photographed for the short-lived Argus pictorial supplement. (14 April 1904, p. 3, plus supplement) In 1908 the Strathalbyn Ladies' Golf Club is mentioned. (16 July 1908, p. 3) In November 1905 the Strathalbyn 'young ladies hockey club' journeyed to Victor Harbour by special train to play against the Victor team, the 'Seaside players.' It was an exciting game, "the play was decidely rough, and more than once strokes were disputed ..." (16 November 1905, p. 3) Hockey must have been popular at Strathalbyn. In 1926 there were three teams there: the Warriors, Strathians and Columbines. (22 July 1926, p. 3) An extra team, the Trojans, was added in 1927. (19 May 1927, supplement) In 1934 the team names were: Imperials, Waratahs, Spartans and Ramblers. (14 June 1934, p. 3) By the late 1950s there were just two teams - the Reds and the Whites. (25 July 1957, p. 7) Netball made its appearance in the 1970s.

Tennis was said to have been introduced to South Australia by Governor Sir William Jervois in the late 1870s, however there is little mention of organised teams in the south until the early 1900s. The Strathalbyn tennis and cricket teams travelled by train to Victor Harbour to play the local teams in 1906. (8 November 1906, p. 2; 15 November 1906, p. 2) Church teams appeared at Strathalbyn about 1907. (19 December 1907, p. 3) Ping Pong was briefly popular in 1902, with teams at Strathalbyn and in other towns of the south. (31 July 1902, p. 2; 18 September 1902, p. 3) When a charity game was arranged to raise funds for lighting the Victor Harbour Congregational Church, the local correspondent complained,

Games and churches are so mixed up nowadays that it is hard to say where one begins and the other ends. We have everything now but the bookmaker and I suppose he will be along in good time. (3 July 1902, p. 2)

Lacrosse was being played at Murray Bridge in 1908 (28 May 1908, p. 3), and lawn bowls also became popular around this time. A history of the Strathalbyn club appears in the Argus in 1934. (1 November 1934, p. 3) The 'Southern Bowling Association' was in place by 1930. (6 February 1930 supplement) In 1956 night bowls was introduced at Milang. (6 December 1956, p. 1) Billiards also became popular before the First World War, with tournaments in the Strathalbyn Institute. (1 December 1910, p. 3) In 1927 an advertisement for Dan Vaughan's billiard saloon included a photograph. (10 February 1927, p. 2)

During the First World War very little sport is reported. Between the wars most of the earlier sports were revived, with euchre parties and motor cycling added to the mix. The Great Depression did not seem to drastically affect sports clubs - apart from the Argus having trouble collecting money for outstanding advertising bills. (16 April 1931 p. 3) The Elliotts were fair-minded just the same, and did not curtail their sports reporting. The swimming pool at Strathalbyn was built with proceeds from the 1933 'Back to Strathalbyn' celebrations, and contributions from the Corporation and individuals. It was completed and opened in February 1935. (23 Februray 1935, p. 3) In 1956 Dawn Fraser and Murray Garetty, South Australian representatives at the Melbourne Olympics, attended a swimming carnival at Strathalbyn. (10 January 1957, p. 1) Basketball made its appearance in the 1930s and included a Strathalbyn High School team. (4 August 1937, p. 2) By the 1950s basketball clubs had formed the Hills Central Association, which included church teams.

Early motor sports included a 'motor gymkhana' arranged by the local car club in 1955 with 1,500 spectators, and a number of women competitors. (28 April 1955, p. 2; 5 May 1955, p. 4) A motor cycle scramble was held a few months later on the new track. (15 September 1955, p. 8) The Angas Go-Kart Club hosted the SA dirt track state trials in 1991. (17 October 1991, p. 19) Plans for a BMX track at Strathalbyn were announced in 1998. (17 September 1998, p. 5 )

More unusual sports included 'Australia's only cow race,' the Compass Cup, a community fund-raiser first arranged at Mount Compass by the local Rural Youth branch in 1974. (11 February 1982, p. 10) One thousand people attended the fifth Compass Cup in 1978. (16 February 1978, p. 1) The 1987 event attracted 7,500 people. (12 February 1987, p. 2) Milang hosted the 'Great Aussie Dunny Race' in 1987, with a turn-out of 3,000 spectators for events including a guzunda race and a rolling pin toss. (15 October 1987, p. 1)

One of the best known local sportsmen was archery champion Simon Fairweather. An archery park opened at Strathalbyn in 1987 (19 February 1987, p. 1) and that year Simon won the National Archery Championships in Perth. At age 17 he was the youngest ever winner. (26 March 1987, p. 15) In 1988 he was selected for the Seoul Olympics (28 April 1988, p. 1), came second in the U.S. National Archery championships (11 August 1988, p. 1), and travelled to Switzerland for a World Archery competition. (13 July 1989, p. 14) In 1991 Simon won the world title in Poland. (29 August 1991, p. 1) In 2000 he achieved gold at the Sydney Olympics, and Australia Post produced a stamp in his honour. (12 October 2000, p. 3) Simon was not the only local person with an international sporting career. Barbara Caspers won three gold medals in the 1989 International Wheel Chair Games in the U.K. (3 August 1989, p. 1) In 1996 Andrew Kuchel won the Junior National Archery title (18 January 1996, p. 1) and a few months later came third in the World Junior Archery competitions in the U.S.A. (11 July 1996, p. 1)

From the late 1930s sport reports were printed on the back page of the Argus. Sports coverage increased steadily from the 1950s. The first sporting photographs printed in the Argus (apart from the 1904 women's cricket photos) seem to have been of the two Strathalbyn football premiership teams in 1952. (9 October 1952, p. 8) In 1973 the Argus first began regularly inserting photographs throughout its pages, and these included many sporting photographs. From mid 1981 sporting 'action' photographs appeared, as the Argus again increased its coverage of local sport, and included more descriptive sports reporting. By the early 1990s the Argus devoted nine pages to local sport, which included five pages of football during the season.

 Literature During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Argus often published stories and poems by local amateurs, as well as serials by more well-known South Australian writers. James Dunlop contributed various romantic poems such as, 'On hearing a fair lady sigh' (9 April 1870, p. 3), and also a short story, 'Maud'. (6 August 1870, p. 4) He wrote the newspaper's first serial, 'Middle life' set in Scotland and America. (13 August 1870, p. 4) The prolific 'Clotilde' provided a short story 'written expressly for the Southern Argus' titled 'Mr Emerson's client' about a lawyer marrying a young heiress. (29 August 1873, p. 4)

Serial stories were popular in the nineteenth century, with contributions from 'C.E.R.' (20 August 1874, p. 4), F.T. Featherstone (3 July 1879, p. 4) and 'Jessie M.G.' (29 April 1880, p. 4) A charming story set at North Adelaide was 'The house with the crooked chimneys' by H.A. St Buxton (Harriet Alice Rix). (28 April 1881, p. 4) Harriet Rix's story includes interesting contemporary descriptions of Adelaide homes and life. (23 June 1881, p. 4) In 1885 'The flaw in the diamond' by Ellis E. Ayliffe was the serial story. (11 June 1885, p. 4) This was almost certainly the work of Mrs Elizabeth Bode, who from 1899 wrote social commentaries for the Argus. An interesting short romance, set at Port Elliot was 'Sea pictures' by 'Iris'. (9 September 1886, p. 3; 16 September 1886, p. 3) In August 1892 the first instalment of 'Mignonette' by Jessie Waterhouse appeared. (4 August 1892, p. 3) Several of her other highly romantic stories, with plots turning on incredible coincidences, were also published.

At Christmas 1897, a serial story by George Matthews appeared in the Argus, 'A trading cruise to the South Pacific'. Matthews was a policeman at Clarendon at the time, later stationed at Victor Harbour, and then at Brighton. For some years his stories appeared regularly in the Argus. Mostly these all followed much the same plot: a young Englishman, who often loses his family wealth early in life, takes a sea voyage, usually to Australia, and is shipwrecked. Cast up on a tropical island he discovers treasure, and after a few brief adventures returns home and regains or purchases a country estate where he treats the tenants extremely well. Along the way the hero is usually kidnapped by sailors or natives, loses his clothes, and often marries a society lady. Matthews' last story for the Argus appeared in 1907. Another local writer, Kyra Keith (Elizabeth Kirkham) of Ashbourne, contributed the serial story 'Divided lives' in 1899,(19 October 1899, p. 3) followed by 'Lights and shadows,' (24 May 1900, p. 3) and 'Kips'. (9 May 1901, p. 3) Her final story, 'The atonement of Maurice Carruth' was published after her death. (7 November 1901, p. 3)

Budding local poets included 'P. & C.' of Finniss Flat with the poem 'Bush girls' in 1873. (24 January 1873, p. 4) Sarah Field of Strathalbyn wrote the sad 'A mother on the death of her infant.' (22 August 1873, p. 4) In mid 1878 'G.H.' (George Haines) of Woodchester submitted long poems to the Argus, taking classical themes. (30 May 1878, p. 3; 27 June 1878, p. 4) J.W. Elliott contributed various poems of his own at times, as 'J.W.E.' including 'To my wife,' in 1881, shortly after the death of his first wife. (21 July 1881, p. 3) 'Ferret' wrote poems with a local flavour such as 'Strathalbyn's Mounted Corps.' (17 March 1887, p. 3) Mrs Elizabeth Bode contributed an occasional poem, such as 'Australia's volunteers' during the Boer War. (26 July 1900, p. 3) A few pieces of 'original poetry' were printed in 1944-45, including poems by Jack Sharp such as 'The nurses and sisters'. (1 March 1945, p. 3) Sharp regularly wrote articles for the Argus in this period which often included a poem. In late 1949 and early 1950 Harold T. Darwin's poems appeared. In 1988 the Argus published poems by Kathie Davie of Strathalbyn and W.A. Pretty of Goolwa. (4 February 1988, p. 3, 11)

From the 1970s there were often articles describing the work of local writers, many of whom were writing for television and films. Veronica Sweeney's filmscript for an historic drama series was considered by the Australian Film Commission and Channel 10 in 1978. (9 March 1978, p. 1) In 1982 the local Catholic priest, Fr Bill Modystack, wrote one of the earliest biographies of Mother Mary MacKillop. (30 September 1982, p. 5) Local artist Nancy Gemmell's history of Strathalbyn was launched in 1985. (21 November 1985, p. 1) In 1989 the publishing of a murder novel by Tess Brady of Port Elliot, Paint me a murder, was reported. (13 July 1989, p. 2) In 2002 Lolo Houbein of Strathalbyn was awarded an Order of Australia for her work as a writer, as well as for her community work. (13 June 2002, p. 1)

 Music The Elliotts were a musical family, and Joseph Elliott had previously published the magazine AdelaideMusical Herald. His compositions were printed and advertised by the Argus. In 1887 advertisements announced two new songs, 'Asleep' and 'Shadowland.' (27 January 1887, p. 4) Elliott junior performed under Professor Ives at performances for the Adelaide Jubilee Exhibition in 1887. (21 July 1887, p. 3) In 1899 he also wrote a series of articles, 'Singing and singers' for the Argus. (31 August 1899, p. 3) Elliott and his wife taught music at Strathalbyn for 30 years. (18 January 1939, p. 8)) Years later, in his 'Jottings' column, he recorded some of the history of early music printing and early Adelaide opera. (27 August 1931, p. 3; 1 October 1931, p. 3)

 Children's column and children In July 1896 the Argus introduced a children's column, by request. This consisted of a series of 'problems' or puzzles written by an Adelaide teacher (9 July 1896, p. 3) The column only lasted for a few months. Syndicated children's stories appeared occasionally in 1903, and 'Daisy' of Ashbourne contributed 'Three colonials, a child's story for children.' (3 September 1903, p. 3 and 17 September 1903, p. 3) At the beginning of 1910, with a new look to the newspaper, a new children's column began under 'Uncle Ned'. (27 January 1910, p. 3) This included small lectures about behaviour. This also ceased after a few months. However, around this time the Boy Scout movement arrived at Strathalbyn, and inspired a weekly column for a while, continuing less regularly later on. During 1917 the children's column was resurrected, with articles written by Strathalbyn school children on set topics such as 'The woman of the empire'. (17 May 1917, p. 3) When the Argus adopted a new layout in July 1935, it included a children's story, 'For the tiny ones.' This became 'The School Corner' in August 1935, with a 'kiddies' column, competitions and honour roll.

From 1932 the irregular scout reports again became a regular 'Scout notes' column. In 1994 the local pack celebrated 70 years. (27 October 1994, p. 4) In 1930 the local Guides obtained their own hall, donated by David Bell and Co. (2 October 1930 p. -) A 'Girl Guides news' column appeared in late 1935. (19 December 1935, p. 6) The 75th anniversary of the 'first combined scout camp in South Australia', in 1909-1910, was celebrated in 1985. (10 January 1985, p. 1, 6) The 60th anniversary of the well-known Victor Harbour Sea Scouts was celebrated in 1985. (25 July 1985, p. 6)

 Religion In the beginning the Southern argus did not have a particular focus on religious matters. Local church events were mostly covered in the news reports of individual towns and districts. Longer reports occasionally referred to religious doings at Strathalbyn, such as the opening of the Christian Disciples new chapel. (4 April 1873, p. 3) From about 1890 more coverage was given to church events. The opening of St John's Church of England at Meningie received a long report in that year. (29 May 1890, p. 3) Events such as the anniversary celebrations of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (16 February 1911, p. 3) and the opening of the new Presbytery of St Barnabas' Roman Catholic Church (18 May 1911, p. 3) were also described in detail. In 1912 there was a memorial service for victims of the Titanic disaster, at Christ Church. (25 April 1912, p. 2)

Religious coverage increased from the 1930s, with perhaps most coverage being given to St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the worship home of the Scottish founders of Strathalbyn, and arguably the most photographed building in the town. In 1923 a photograph of the church and the new pastor (Alex Mackenzie) appeared in the Argus. (3 April 1924, supplement) In 1936 the South Australian Presbyterian Church historian, the Rev William Gray, contributed an article about the history of St Andrew's. (9 July 1936, p. 8) Activities at the church were regularly reported. Major restoration work at St Andrew's was completed in late 1982, when a new organ was installed. (21 October 1982, p. 1; 16 December 1982, p. 1) The 150th anniversary of the church in 1994 saw the launch of an appeal for major structural renovation. (5 May 1994, p. 4) Names of donors to the appeal were published in the Argus. In 1998 an appeal was launched to replace the 1869 Gothic 'spirelets,' which had been removed after a storm in 1956. (14 May 1998, p. 4; 14 December 2000, p. 4) The new spirelets were finally placed in February 2001. (15 February 2001, p. 1)

Women preachers caused some consternation in 1870 when the well-known Devonshire girl preacher, Serena Thorne, arrived in South Australia. She preached to hundreds in the city and country. When she travelled south, to the Middleton Bible Christian church (19 November 1870, p. 3), a small flurry of letters appeared in the Argus. The Argus published a somewhat double-edged editorial rider,

We insert our correspondent's protest, but we can see no valid reason why the sermons of a lady should not be as effective as those of a man, as many of us are well acquainted with their ability in delivering lectures. (26 November 1870, p. 3)

Travelling preachers were common in country and city South Australia at this time. Matthew Burnett, the English temperance preacher, came to South Australia in 1880 and during three years visited almost every major town in the state. At Victor Harbour he conducted an eight-day mission which convinced the manager of the breakwater building works and many of his workers to sign a pledge promising to give up alcohol. (2 March 1882, p. 3) In 1900 William Laidlaw Toshach, 'the Scotch singing evangelist,' spent a month in the district, conducting missions at Woodchester and Langhorne's Creek. (28 June 1900, p. 2) He returned in 1908 with a South Australian wife and a more varied programme which included Ethel Toshach singing 'illustrated songs,' and the showing of early religious films. (7 May 1908, p. 2; 28 May 1908, p. 3) In 1915 Mrs Barton, "a Scottish lady temperance reformer," caused an impression during her visit to Strathalbyn. (28 January 1915, p. 3)

Local missionary connections included, Miss Clara Goode, a connection of the well-known Goolwa family, who with two of her sisters spent some years in China. (8 December 1892, p. 3) There was much concern for Chinese missionaries at the time of the 'Boxer Rebellion' with special services in local churches and editorials about the 'horrors'. (26 July 1900, p. 2) A unique venture was the floating church, the PS Etona, which operated along the River Murray from 1891 to 1912. A commemoration of its building at Milang was celebrated with the restored steamer travelling to Milang in 1998. (23 April 1898, p. 14) Strathalbyn boy Bob Love trained for the ministry and worked on Aboriginal missions at Kunmunya and Ernabella. A photograph of him with his wife and three children was printed on the front of the Argus in 1937. (28 April 1937, p. 1) In 1959 400 listened to three nights of Billy Graham crusade meetings via a 'PMG landline' in the Strathalbyn Town Hall, connected to the famous American evangelist's live meetings in Adelaide. (28 May 1959, p. 1)

As in other towns, the arrival of the Salvation Army in the 1880s caused very mixed reactions. 'Consideration' wrote to the Argus complaining of the 'disgraceful' behaviour of the Army at Strathalbyn in 1884. (31 July 1884, p. 3) Army members had attended a local circus perfomance, "making themselves as objectionable as possible by the loud crying of their paper." (ibid, p. 2-3) The flurry of letters to the editor accusing or defending after this event continued for five months. However, by 1886 the Army's 'Big Go' and other activities, were reported in the Argus without animosity. (27 May 1886, p. -) An interesting advertisement for an Army event appears in 1900, when Lieutenant Aberg A.B. was planning to give his, "famous and pathetic life story ... the lieutenant will speak and sing in seven different languages." (14 June 1900, p. 2) The local captain was at one time a woman, Agnes Kinzel. (26 July 1900, p. 3)

Other religious groups mentioned regularly in the newspaper included the Church of Christ, who formed a southern conference in 1900, with annual regional meetings held at Milang. (25 February 1904, p. 3) This denomination had very early links in the district, and celebrated its 80th anniversary in 1949. (17 February 1949, p. 1) In 1921 300 'Cooneyites' attended an annual camp in 'Blackwood Park,' the property of the Thring family, as they had done 'for several years.' (10 February 1921, p. 3) 'Glenbarr' the old home of the Rankine family just outside of Strathalbyn, was established as a Christian conference centre in 1945 by its owners, Daphne Bowman and Kathleen Bateman. In 1973 'Glenbarr' was made a foundation to ensure its ongoing life. (27 September 1973, p. 3)

Interestingly, Strathalbyn has seen the revival of two previously defunct denominations. Wesleyan Methodist and Bible Christian churches ceased to exist as separate entities in 1900, when 'Methodist Union' took place. In 1977, together with most Presbyterian and Congregational churches, another amalgamation took place when the Uniting Church of Australia was formed. However, at Strathalbyn in 1987, a Wesleyan Methodist church was re-established when Pastor Don Goldney was inducted to lead a small group meeting in the R.S.L. hall. (9 April 1987, p. 11) Similarly, a Bible Christian church was re-born at Strathalbyn in 1994, celebrating, its 6th anniversary in 2000. (16 November 2000, p. 4) Jim White was pastor. (19 July 2001, p. 3)

In 1988 the 'Fountain of Life Christian Centre' purchased the old Strathalbyn theatre for use as a Christian School. (14 January 1988, p. 1) Foundations for the Strathalbyn Christian Primary School were laid in 1990. (6 September 1990, p. 4) The Strathalbyn Churches Bookshop in Dawson Street was re-furbished in 2000. (21 September 2000, p. 4)

Point McLeay Mission occasionally was reported in news articles in the Argus. In 1876 'Wellingtonian' complained bitterly about the Rev. George Taplin not allowing the public open access to the mission, which he claimed was public property. (30 March 1876, p. 3) The Argus in an editorial in 1907 outlined ongoing financial difficulties faced by the Aborigines' Friends' Association who ran the mission. (11 April 1907, p. 2) Later that year a group of Federal MPs travelling down the river from Echuca (when locking the river was under discussion) were entertained at the mission. (14 November 1907, p. 3) In 1911 members of the mission visited the Strathalbyn Methodist Church and David Unaipon played the organ and gave a testimony, as did William Kropinyeri and Phillip Rigney. (16 February 1911, p. 3)

Advertisements for Sunday church services began in the late 1930s. 'Anglican notes' appeared as a column in the newspaper semi-regularly from 1940, together with the short-lived 'St Andrew's Chronicle.' From 1955 'Catholic notes' also appeared, and 'Methodist news.' By 1959 there was also 'Church of Christ news.' From an occasional religious column in 1936, came a regular 'Clerical corner' in 1937, written by the Strathalbyn Church of Christ minister, Pastor A.H. Wilson. This continued into the early 1950s under the title 'Walks and talks.' A regular religious reflections column 'Plain Christianity by Adelphos' was compiled by the members of the Strathalbyn Ministers' Fraternal organisation from 1960 until 1971. 'Day by day, by Layman' began in 1981 and became 'Today's good news' by the Rev. Ken Packer in 1987. This has appeared regularly for over 20 years.

 Women With South Australian women gaining the right to vote in 1894, there was much discussion of women and their role. During the 1890 election campaign 'Hypatia' wrote to the Argus:

One of the many questions discussed at the political meetings recently held in this district has been the right and utility of extending the franchise to women. It has been both instructive and amusing to watch the interest taken in this matter, and to notice the dolorous tone taken by those who predict all sorts of dire results and calamities which will ensue if the proposed measure ever becomes law. (17 April 1890, p. 3)

From 1890 a syndicated women's column appeared in the Argus supplement. But in September 1894 a very politically focussed 'Lady's letter' column began. This was written by a South Australian woman, who often referred to city events and meetings - her first article described waiting for three hours in the parliamentary public gallery to hear the debate on the 'Adult Suffrage Bill.' In early 1898 this lady wrote,

To us the most urgent reform of the day is to educate women into higher sense of their social and political duties, for the ignorance of women is a great stumbling block to progress. (3 February 1898, p. 3)

In 1899 a local lady, 'Mrs J.A. Bode' (Elizabeth Esther Bode) of 'Sunningdale,' Strathalbyn, began writing articles for the Argus. Mrs Bode was a widow, and possibly wrote to supplement her income. She also wrote stories and poems for Adelaide and Melbourne newspapers. In the Argus Mrs Bode commented on current events and social opinions from a conservative viewpoint. She believed that, "Woman's true vocation appears to be by the design of the Creator, that of helper to men ..." (10 May 1900, p. 3) Her poetic contributions to the Argus included a poem welcoming the new governor, Lord Tennyson, and Lady Tennyson, in 1900. (27 September 1900, p. 3)

A syndicated column, 'One woman's letter to another' began in 1932. In 1937 this became 'Of interest to women by Sonia.' A woman calling herself 'Blue Crane' wrote an occasional column, 'Tit-bits,' in the same year. (10 February 1937, p. 8) In 1941 'Mainly for women by Jannette' began. This was resurrected as 'Mainly for ladies by Irene' in 1958. (6 March 1958, p. 6) Irene had just moved to Clayton with her farmer-husband and two small children from Minlaton, where she had previously written for the local newspaper. (27 February 1959, p. 4) Irene's chatty column continued until 1961.

Reports of women's groups have been published in the Argus througout its history. From 1892 branches of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union existed locally. The Mount Barker and Onkaparinga District branch held an annual convention at Strathalbyn for some years. (7 April 1898, p. 3) In 1906 the Argus included a regular WCTU column with general information about the organisation. The local WCTU was still meeting in 1995 when the Strathalbyn branch was visited by the world WCTU president. (15 June 1995, p. 1) A women's agricultural bureau was in existence by 1937 (16 June 1937, p. 2) and is still active in 2010. Branches of the Country Women's Association flourished from the time of the Second World War. The Strathalbyn branch was founded in 1947. (27 August 1959, p. 3) Moving with the times, in 1993 the Cundell regional group of the CWA gave $1,000 to the life education unit at Mount Compass Area School, for drug awareness education. (2 September 1993, p. 6)

Strathalbyn's first woman mayor, Val Ball, was elected in 1987. (7 May 1987, p. 1) She was still mayor in September 1997 when the District Council of Strathalbyn amalgamated with the District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa. Mrs Ball was then elected to the Strathalbyn Ward of the new District Council of Alexandrina. (2 October 1997, p. 1) In 1998 she received an OAM for her service to local government. (29 January 1998, p. 1) Jean Michelmore of Strathalbyn was one of six South Australian women who were named 'Rural Legends' in the inaugural year of this award. She had been a member of the Women's Agricultural Bureau for 60 years, and involved in many community services. (25 October 2001, p. 9)

 Agriculture The Argus served a basically rural-based community. From its earliest issues there are advertisements for agricultural equipment, flour mills and ploughing matches. Wheat-growing was one of the earliest and most widespread agricultural activities in the state. In 1849 William Colman opened a flour mill at Strathalbyn which was later taken over by Lauckes. Lauckes centenary was celebrated in 1999. (9 December 1999, p. 12-15) In 1961 the present mill on the Callington Road was opened by Premier Playford. (23 November 1961, p. 1) The Argus contains regular reports of Agricultural Bureau branch meetings and local agricultural shows. (The 130th Strathalbyn Agricultural Show was held in 2000. (5 October 2000, p. 12)) Broader agricultural developments were reflected locally, such as the establishment butter factories, with Strathalbyn's first in 1889. (6 June 1889, p. 2) From this period the South Australian government was encouraging more scientific approaches to agriculture adn the establishment of district 'bureaus'. An 'Agricultural bureaus' column was published in the Argus in 1893. In 1904 the 11th congress of the southern group of agricultural bureaus was held in the Strathalbyn Institute (17 March 1904, p. 2) and a photograph of delegates was published in the Argus. (31 March 1904, p. 3) Joseph Elliott gave some history of the local bureau in his 'Jottings' column in 1922. (21 September 1922, p. 3)

From time to time specific agricultural advice columns were included in the Argus, such as a poultry column, by 'Wyandotte' and 'The agriculturalists column by Crespin' from 1904. The mechanisation of farming was reflected in prominent advertisements for farm machinery from this period. An open invitation to see a Sunshine harvester at work on J. Byrne's crop was issued in 1905. (2 February 1905, p. 2) In 1923 J.M. Hudd of Bletchley arranged a demonstration of the Fiat farm tractor for the Hartley Agricultural Bureau. (27 September 1923, p. 3) One year later he arranged a public demonstration of a McCormick-Deering tractor. (14 August 1924, p. 2) The International Harvester Company held a tractor school at Strathalbyn in 1927. (19 May 1927 supplement)

Following the Second World War, the Argus concentrated more strongly on rural topics, with large advertisements for tractors, separators and other farm equipment dominating its pages. Farmers also became more political - the Meadows District Division of the South Australian Dairyman's Association had 380 members in 1949 (27 October 1949, p. 1) and a wool tax protest meeting was held in the Strathalbyn Town Hall in 1950. (12 October 1950, p. 3) In 1951 there were various complaints about the 'apathetic attitude' of members of the Australian Primary Producers Union. (16 August 1951, p. 2; 8 November 1951, p. 6)

In the 1990s the Argus contained regular agricultural columns, 'Sheep officer' Simon Ellis wrote a 'Woolly tales' column, and Elders' Pastoral contributed 'Ed Duffy's wool comment'. Both wool columns ceased in 1995. During the 1990s there were frequently long agricultural articles describing new methods, particularly the research work of government departments and bodies.

Grape growing and wine making remain important local industries. At Langhorne's Creek the Bleasdale winery celebrated 150 years in 2000. (27 April 2000, p. 11) The winery was a family concern and Mickie Clifford, the great grand-daughter of the founder (Frank Potts) retired in 1998 after 53 years working in the winery. (17 December 1998, p. 17) In 1999 Bleasdales' won five gold medals at the London Wine Challenge. (1 July 1999, p. 1) A new winery opened at Belvidere in 2000. "Langhorne Creek is emerging as the major new wine producing region of South Australia, possibly the nation", wrote the Argus. (23 March 2000, p. 12-13) At McLaren Vale the Shaw family began grape growing in 1975, and by 2001, as well as their original vineyard, had planted 830 acres at Currency Creek. (27 September 2001, p. 9)

Dairying as a local industry has now been on the wane for some years. The Amscol factory at Victor Harbour closed in 1977, and in 1996 the Dairy Vale factory at Mount Compass announced its impending closure. (29 August 1996, p. 1) However, the Stewart family of Murray Bridge were among the first in the state to have a computerised dairy for their 450 Jerseys in 2001. (25 January 2001, p. 23) The Paris Creek bio-diversity farm was a new initiative, and opened a factory in 2001. (6 December 2001, p. 12-15)

 War Although the Boer War tends to be overlooked, country newspapers such as the Argus recognised this as "an epoch in our history". (2 November 1899, p. 2) Local men enlisted in the contingents sent from South Australia almost immediately. At Victor Harbour Felix Provis and J.W. Parsons were ready "to fight for the Queen". (ibid) From Port Elliot the local correspondent wrote proudly, "This district is represented in both Contingents ..." (18 January 1900, p. 3) And at Meningie the residents were "disgusted at the unpreparedeness of the British authorities for an inland war". What was needed were "mounted men of the type of the Australian bushman". (ibid) Local poets burst into verse. 'E.E.B.' wrote, 'A message to our lads across the sea', (4 January 1900, p. 3) and E.H. Bode contributed 'Australia's volunteers.' (26 July 1900, p. 3) A year after the war began, on 21 May 1900, the whole of the 'Empire' went mad in celebration of the Relief of Mafeking. This important strategic town had been under siege for 217 days by the Boers, defended by Colonel Baden-Powell, when Lord Roberts finally brought reinforcements. In Strathalbyn shops and offices were lit with gas lights in celebration and Chinese lanterns and bells, whistles and trumpets were blown as young people paraded the town in celebration. Similar celebrations took place all over the south. In July 1900 the Strathalbyn Cinematographe showed film footage of the war. (19 July 1900, p. 3) In May 1902 a the town welcomed home eight local servicemen, with a crowd meeting Sergeant Semple and Corporal Cameron at Strathalbyn Railway Station, complete with the local brass band. (1 May 1902, p. 2) Peace came shortly afterwards, on 31 May 1902.

South Australia's one-ship-navy, the HMS Protector, was sent to China to take part in the British quelling of the so-called 'Boxer rebellion' in 1901. The Protector included five of the south coast fishermen in its crew. (12 July 1900, p. 3) In May 1903 the Argus recorded that local men in the naval reserve were at Port Adelaide for their annual training. (21 May 1903, p. 3) Military training camps for Army reserves were held on Granite Island from 1906. (27 December 1906, p. 3) In 1866, retired naval man Y.B. Hutchinson of Hindmarsh Valley, had suggested guns be placed on Granite Island as a defence precaution. (7 July 1866, p. 2)

The First World War put the South African War in the shade, and the Argus editor had no illusions from the beginning:

Never in the history of the world has so huge or complicated a war, so awful in its extent, so far reaching in its consequences, so dreadful in its possibilities, been engaged in as that which at the present time is raging in Europe ... (6 August 1914, p. 2)

There was a steady trickle of local enlistments from the start. (17 September 1914, p. 3) While on the home front came the successful push from temperance groups to close hotels at 6 p.m. 'Close the bar and save the boy' proclaimed advertisements in the Argus. (31 December 1914, p. 2) When the bill was passed in South Australia, the Argus claimed it was 'the female vote' which had got it through. "Whether the drastic change will effect the good purpose hoped for it remains to be seen". (1 April 1915, p. 2)

The events at Gallipoli in April 1915 pushed these debates into the background, bringing the reality of the Great War into Australian homes. The Argus editor waxed lyrical and patriotic,

... For the first time in the nine months of the fearful struggle, the wail of the widow and the orphan, the cry of the mother for her dead son, of the sister for her brother, of the maiden for her lover, is sounding in our midst ... But if the tear of sorrow dims our eyes, our hearts throb with feelings of pride that our gallant troops have more than justified the beliefs expressed in their fighting qualities, their pluck, and their loyalty to the empire ... (6 May 1915, p. 2)

As was popular in many newspapers, the Argus printed extracts from soldiers' letters such as Sergeant J.A. McRae (6 May 1915, p. 3), Lance-Corporal Scott and Private R.C. Sunman of Currency Creek, and Sergeant-Major Oscar Hassam of Bletchley. (16 September 1915, p. 3) Letters from Signaller W. Caldwell, and Allan Goode were published in 1916. (22 June 1916, p. 3) A letter from Jack Cowan was published in 1917. (29 March 1917, p. 3) On the back page appeared a 'roll of honour', initially listing 50 local wounded, five missing, 14 sick and 18 dead. (28 October 1915, p. 4) Murray Bridge was particularly well represented on the list, and Goolwa men also seem to have been quick to volunteer. The Argus reported that three Smith brothers and now their father had signed up, with a fourth brother intending to leave Goolwa soon. (28 October 1915, p. 4)

There was plenty of fund-raising and 'comforts' work happening on the home front. Branches of the Cheer-Up Society were formed, and the Strathalbyn branch sent 100 'billycans' of treats to soldiers at the front. (7 December 1916, p. 3) Professor Henderson of the Adelaide Archives gave a lecture on the history of the war in the Strathalbyn Institute (10 June 1915, p. 3) and Eclipse Pictures screened 'The hero of the Dardanelles'. (16 September 1915, p. 2) Gilbert Rathbone, the Langhorne's Creek 'premier baker' advertised that he was, "doing his duty to the people by giving the best class of bread and cakes daily". (28 October 1915, p. 2) A year before the first Conscription vote, 'One who has just begun to think' wrote to the editor recommending that 'shirkers' be forced to enlist. (10 June 1915, p. 3)

The first Conscription referendum took place in late 1916, coinciding with obligatory registration for men aged 21 to 35 who were single, widowed, or married without children. (5 October 1916, p. 2) The Argus commented that the compulsory enlistment "has excited more interest and comment than any proclamation ever issued by an Australian government" and the editor hoped the Conscription vote would be "an overwhelming yes". (12 October 1916, p. 2) Although the Argus supported Conscription, the newspaper took a relatively low-key approach, compared with some sections of the country press. With rumours of an enormous offensive being organised for early 1917, the push for enlistments intensified. "Patriotic women all over Australia are rallying to the call for help in raising recruits necessary to save Australia's name before the world". (25 January 1917, p. 3) "It is the duty of every man and woman in the country to give their assistance towards making the young men hear ..." (15 February 1917, p. 3) In December a second referendum for Conscription took place. "We have got to face the fact that our national life is in danger, our freedom at stake, and our very country in peril ..." (15 November 1917, p. 3) Lieutenant-Colonel Butler toured the state in an effort to raise 500 recruits for a personal battallion, and local letter writer, Archibald Beviss, wrote in support of sending more men to the front. (1 August 1918, p. 3) Fortunately the end of the war came a few months later.

As early as 1937 it was becoming clear that another war was coming. At Strathalbyn, "the much-talked of military ball" took place in the picture theatre, with Col. A.S.M. Lovell of Middleton, commanding officer of the 18th Light Horse (M.G.), and Mrs Lovell present. (16 June 1937, p. 1) In 1939, when Miss Ev Rayson's orchestra played for a St Patrick's Day ball in the Strathalbyn Town Hall,

A number of military men attended from the Woodside camp, and their gay uniforms mingled attractively with the pretty frocks of the lady dancers. (29 March 1939, p. 2)

All over Australia preparations were made well before war was declared. At Strathalbyn the Mayor and Dr Formby invited 100 ladies to meet and form a Strathalbyn branch of the Voluntary Service Detachment. The aim, in the event of war, was to train women and girls for nursing, driving, and emergency medical attention. (5 April 1939, p. 1)

When war was declared in September 1939 the Argus began a 'War news' column. A Red Cross circle was formed by 61 Strathalbyn ladies. (18 October 1939, p. 1) Soon the Argus was full of articles about war savings certificates, the Fighting Forces Comforts Fund, the Cheer-Up Society and other war-related activities. Official war department photographs were also published. Coincidentally, one of the first photographs included local boy, Stan Sherry of Milang, in training with the RAAF. (26 June 1940, p. 4) The rationing of newsprint saw the Argus drop to six pages in 1940 and then four pages in 1944. A District Recruiting Centre was established at Strathalbyn in mid 1940. (3 July 1940, p. 1) A year later the Argus began printing the names of local men and women who had enlisted in the forces - Strathalbyn alone had 56 names already. By 1942 the list had risen to 77 names for Strathalbyn, out of 360 for the district as a whole (as far as Goolwa) with one prisoner of war, three men missing, and two dead. (18 June 1942, p. 4) In early 1942 100 local men were trained for the VDC Home Guard by a Mobile Training Cadre under photographer turned soldier, Captain R.S. Sladdin. (29 January 1942, p. 1) 'Home Guard doings' appeared as an occasional news item. (12 November 1942, p. 5) Letters from locals serving in the forces occasionally appeared, including Sergeant G.W. Durdin's descriptions of air fights over Germany. (4 March 1943, p. 3)

The end of the war was proclaimed with headlines on the Argus in August 1945. (16 August 1945, p. 1) Photographs of the celebrations by J. Morton were published in September. (6 September 1945, p. 1 and p. 6) Three local prisoners of war, Max Ireland, Ken Knights and George Nettlefold, were welcomed home a month later. (25 October 1945, p. 1) There were civic receptions for returning servicemen (13 December 1945, p. 1) and honour rolls unveiled. (3 October 1946, p. 8) Appeals for food and clothing for the British in the aftermath of war continued for several years. (13 December 1945, p. 1) The Strathalbyn War Memorial was unveiled in 1949. (16 June 1949, p. 1)

In 1951 a recruiting campaign began in South Australia. The Argus quoted city newspapers' claims that Australia would be involved in another war, "within the next three years" because a "growing menace ... has extended throughout Europe, through Asia, and is now creeping towards our own country". This was presumably a reference to communism. (8 March 1951, p. 1) The District Recruiting Committee had its base in the Strathalbyn Corporation office. (22 March 1951, p. 6) Recruiting advertisements appeared regularly. A photograph of 'local C.M.F. troops' (9th Infantry Brigade) on a training camp at Caloote was published in 1952. (6 March 1952, p. 5) The Milang Red Cross group were collecting for Korea, estimating that one third of the population there were destitute. (24 July 1952, p. 6)

National Service was introduced for 18 year olds at the beginning of the Korean War, but discontinued in 1959. In its last months many advertisements about registration appeared in the Argus. (19 February 1959, p. 7) Compulsory five year military service was re-introduced in 1964 for 20 year olds, selected randomly by date of birth. The Argus occasionally published official government photographs of recruits in action, such as Graham Hibbard of Meadows in 1965. (14 October 1965, p. 8)

During the Vietnam War a photograph of army exercises in the Flinders Ranges included local man Ken Ball. (13 November 1969, p. 1) A photograph of John Cech of Meningie, meeting the Queen with the 6th Battalion in Singapore in 1972 was also published. (20 April 1972, p. 5) Training camps for the Citizens Military Forces, as well as regular units, were held at Murray Bridge, again with photographs in the Argus. (6 April 1972, p. 5; 20 April 1972, p. 5) A graduation photograph of local girl, W.A. Lockett, at the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps School in New South Wales also appeared. (30 November 1972, p. 1) In 1987 when the belated welcome home parade for servicemen and women from Vietnam was held in Sydney, almost all the Vietnam veterans who were members of the Strathalbyn RSL sub-branch planned to attend. (1 October 1987, p. 1)

Individuals in the regular forces have served in various conflicts since this date. Corporal Andrew Hopgood of Langhorne Creek was serving in east Timor in 1999, following his older brothers who had served in Somalia and Rawanda. (9 November 1999, p. 7) The beginning of the Iraq War in 1991 saw a stream of letters to the editor from local people querying Australia's involvement.

 Town improvements and businesses Effective water schemes for Strathalbyn have been discussed since the 1870s. Shortly before the First World War the need for water storage schemes to supply the growing towns became urgent (29 September 1910, p. 3; 10 November 1910, supp.; etc) and a local referendum was held on the issue. (1 December 1910, p. 2) A later referendum about damming the Angas River failed, and Archie Beviss, a regular and vehement letter-writer to the Argus, stated "the people of the place are fifty years behind the times. ... If I were in power, I'd build a dam in spite of the vote". (12 February 1920, p. 2) In 1923 the Progress Association took engineers to various sites proposed for a local water scheme. The matter was discussed in Parliament in 1935. (28 February 1935, p. 3) A history of the Angas River, collected by Roddy Dowie of the Angas River Catchment Group, was published in the Argus in 1997. (10 April 1997, p. 6) In 1998 water filtration tanks were constructed at Wistow to supply Strathalbyn. (9 April 1998, p. 3)

Town improvements were reported, such as the 1914 opening of a 'day and night' service for the the Strathalbyn telephone service. (5 November 1914, p. 2) An electric lighting scheme was established in 1918 (4 July 1918, p. 3) and continuous supply was discussed in 1923. (2 August 1923, p. 2) The town council took over the operation, made the scheme profitable, and upgraded the plant in 1925. (27 August 1925, p. 3) In 1938 ratepayers voted to sell the plant to the Adelaide Electric Supply Co. Ltd. (18 May 1938, p. 1)

A private hospital (run by Misses Bidmead and Lord) existed by 1906. (8 November 1906, p. 2) In 1929 it was decided that the town needed a public hospital, and a sub-committee of the progress association set about investigating the purchase of Dr Formby's private hospital. (18 April 1929 p. 3; 23 May 1929 p. 3) The solicitor E.J. Tucker wrote many letters to the editor advocating a 'go-slow policy' on this, which he continued with lengthy and detailed persistence for many months. (9 May 1929 p. 3; etc.) Nothing further happened, and ten years later a hospital committee was re-established. Dr Formby again offered his private hospital, and the committee agreed to lease the hospital for five years. (28 June 1939, p. 5) Edward Tucker, who had strongly opposed a public hospital, died a few months after the decision was made - hopefully not as a result. In 1948 sportsman Lloyd Skinner presented 1500 pounds to the hospital for modernising the operating theatre. (16 December 1948, p. 1)

"Strathalbyn life and customs of 1944", an essay by Colin Brideson which was placed under a centenary tablet at St Andrew's Church in 1944, was reprinted in the pages of the Argus. (13 April 1944, p. 1)

David Bell and Co's general store was a Strathalbyn institution. It was founded in 1869, taking over the earlier business of Edward Sunter. (31 July 1869, p. 2) Advertisements for Bell's are prominent features of the Argus reflecting a history of fashion for many decades. The business was continued by David Bell's sons and son-in-law, with branch stores opening at Murray Bridge and Victor Harbour. In 1949 the firm celebrated 80 years of trading with articles and photographs. (11 August 1949, p. 3) Another long-serving firm was the Martin and Johnson Pharmacy, occupying premises first operated by Francis Miller in the 1860s. A history of the business appears in the newspaper in 1995. (24 August 1995, p. 11)

 Major events Sir John Lancelot Stirling was a well-known local figure by the time of his death in 1932. An obituary and photograph were published in the Argus (26 May 1932, p. 3) as well as lengthy descriptions of his funeral and memorial service. A committee to arrange a lasting memorial was formed (21 July 1932, p. 3) and the decision was made to raise funds to build a tower on the church he attended, Christ Church Anglican Church. The completed tower was dedicated by Bishop Thomas in 1933. (23 March 1933, p. 3)

A 'Back to Strathalbyn' was held from 7-14 October 1933. This included a rodeo, picnic, race meeting, 'diggers' reunion, agricultural show, street carnival and concert, with full reports in the newspaper. Funds from the event were later used to build a swimming pool in the town. Strathalbyn's centenary was celebrated in October 1939, a few weeks after the Second World War began. The mass of events included a procession, centenary sports, back to school, centenary ball, and combined church service. Proceedings were opened by Premier Tom Playford, and included the official opening of additions to the Town Hall. (4 October 1939, p. 1)

Bushfires across the state in March 1934 included fires at Inman Valley, Victor Harbour and Currency Creek. (15 March 1934, p. 3) In 1939 there were five days of disastrous fires with 14 houses at Echuca burned, also at Meadows and Macclesfield, and many of the farms in between. Fences, bridges, telephone lines, stock and crops were lost. The town of Strathalbyn was clouded with smoke and ash, but although properties including the original Rankine homestead were threatened, none in the town itself were burned. In the middle of the chaos the owner of the Argus, J.W. Elliott, who had also been mayor of the town for 20 years, died. (18 January 1939, p. 1, 5, 8) In December 1965 fires again threatened Strathalbyn, but fortunately no homes or lives were lost. (6 January 1966, p. 1) The catastrophic Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983 affected the Kuitpo Forest, with tragic deaths at Prospect Hill. (24 February 1983, p. 1, 8)

1956 saw flood waters steadily rising on the lower stretches of the River Murray. Residents of Strathalbyn and districts donated 10,000 bags for sandbagging along the river in the first month of the disaster. (9 August 1956, p. 1) At Jervois dairyfarmers were working between milking shifts to build levee banks. (19 July 1956, p. 2) When 'Roundsman', the Argus columnist, visited Monteith he found 40 'blockers' feverishly filling sandbags against the rising waters. At Murray Bridge everyone available was attempting to save houses on the edge of the town. (16 August 1956, p. 1, 12) The Strathalbyn CWA raised money for flood relief (23 August 1956, p. 7) and the local angling club offered their help. (30 August 1956, p. 1) In September it was presumed a drowned fisherman at Younghusband had been swept out to sea by the floodwaters. (6 September 1956, p. 1)

A Strathalbyn branch of the National Trust was established in 1967. The branch was very fortunate to have in its care complete back files of the Argus, donated by the newspaper, as well as information from local research undertaken over 28 years by Mr H.J. Stowe. The old Police Station and Courthouse became the branch premises and museum. (18 May 1967, p. 1) The whole state celebrated the history of 150 years of European colonisation in 1986. In the south this included an array of activities, such as re-enactments at Encounter Bay (10 April 1986, p. 8) and celebrations at Goolwa and Port Elliot (17 April 1986, p. 1; 24 April 1986, p. 6-7) There were family reunions and heritage displays, a heritage festival at Willunga (16 October 1986, p. 8) a display at the old Hindmarsh Valley school (23 October 1986, p. 6) and a Back to Ashbourne. (4 December 1986, p. 14) The Australian Bi-centenary in 1988 was marked by a ring of bonfires around the coast from McLaren Vale to Meningie, and more activities and historical publications. (23 June 1988, p. 1)

There was much excitement when Prince Charles and Princess Diana drove to Victor Harbour in 1988, and were taken by steam train to Goolwa for the opening of the Signal Point Museum, lunching on board the PS Mundoo, and finally driving back to the city through Strathalbyn. The Strathalbyn people had only a fleeting glimpse of the black Rolls Royce going through the town. (4 February 1988, p. 1) When Princess Diana was killed in 1997 the Argus printed a tribute featuring a photograph taken on board the PS Mundoo during the 1988 visit. (4 September 1997, p. 8)

After two years of discussion, in 1997 the two District Councils of Strathalbyn, and Port Elliot/ Goolwa, amalgamated to become the District Council of Alexandrina. (20 March 1997, p. 1; 26 June 1997, p. 3) A detailed history of the Goolwa Council was published in the newspaper at the time. (3 July 1997, p. 12) The first meeting of the new combined council took place in July. (10 July 1997, p. 1, 3) The explanation of the new Council's name was published later. (4 September 1997, p. 6) (The Yankalilla District Council was opposed to a similar amalgamation with the District Council of Victor Harbour, so the two remained separate. (5 June 1997, p. 1))

 Films For many country towns the advent of 'picture shows' brought significant and ongoing social change. This was reflected in the local press with lengthy advertisements and reports, and often resulted in the first major pictorial content to be included in country newspapers. It all began in 1897 when Wybert Reeve, an early entrepreneur, began touring South Australia showing the French Lumiere's moving pictures. The 'Cinematographe Company,' as the business was called, visited the south in the middle of 1897. (19 August 1897, p. 2-3) Others followed Reeve's lead, and in 1903 Fitzgerald Bro.s 'animated pictures' drew a large crowd in the Strathalbyn Institute with its '12 1/2 miles of film.' (19 February 1903, p. 2) From this time travelling film shows proliferated in the country areas. In 1908 the Unique Biograph Co. came to Victor Harbour and Goolwa (9 April 1908, p. 2) and Harcourt's pictures and entertainers visited Strathalbyn, Victor Harbour, Goolwa and Milang. (7 May 1908, p. 2) West's Pictures also came to Strathalbyn. (16 July 1908, p. 2) Even the travelling preachers now incorporated movies, with the Rev. W.L. and Mrs Toschach adding the new moving pictures to their usual schedule of preaching, lantern slides and singing. (11 May 1908, p. 2) Similarly, 'Heller's Mystic Coterie,' the travelling clairvoyants who had been visiting Australia regularly since the 1890s, now incorporated 'life motion pictures' into their programme of 'mirth, music, song, mystical novelties, clairvoyancy, spiritualism.' (10 March 1910, p. 3) Films of sporting events (particularly boxing) were popular in these early years and in 1909 the 'London Bio-tableau' came to Strathalbyn with films of the Canadian world heavyweight champion Tommy Burns, interspersed with live performances by bell ringers and other musicians. (22 April 1909, p. 2)

Soon the films were weekly events. By July 1911, King's Picture Company was visiting country towns weekly, including Langhorne's Creek, Goolwa, Victor Harbour and Strathalbyn. (20 July 1911, p. 2) In August Port Elliot was added to their schedule. (31 August 1911, p. 3) In 1914 Harrison's Electro Pictures was also visiting Strathalbyn, Goolwa, Victor Harbour, Milang, Mannum and Murray Bridge, with a second film event each week. (5 February 1914, p. 2) Also in 1914 Olympic Pictures began their rounds (5 November 1914, p. 2) and Eclipse Pictures screened 'The hero of the Dardanelles' - along with Charlie Chaplin and Pathe's war news. (16 September 1915, p. 2) By 1917 Griffin's Pictures were advertising such features as 'A daughter of Israel,' a "2,000 foot vitagraph drama." (12 July 1917, p. 2) The Argus now included articles detailing the coming films, and 'Strathlight pictures' was born, showing films with the new movie stars - Fatty Arbuckle (7 October 1920, p. 2), Rudolph Valentino (10 August 1922, p. 2), Mary Pickford (25 October 1923, p. 2), and Charlie Chan. (19 May 1932, p. 3) A whole page advertisement in 1926 announced the screening of Cecil B. DeMille's 'Ten commandments.' (22 January 1926, supplement) By the mid 1920s there were two permanent film companies showing films in the town each week - Strathlight and Lester's Pictures - both in the Institute.

In early 1929 thousands attended the first 'talkies,' or films with sound, screened in Adelaide. The Argus remembered that when Wybert Reeve showed the first movies in Strathalbyn he had predicted sound was coming. (7 March 1929 p. 3) Joseph Elliott recorded some of this early film history in his 'Jottings' column. (12 November 1931, p. 4) The Hollands brought 'genuine talkies' to Strathalbyn in early 1930 (13 March 1930 p. 3; 20 March 1930 p. 3), as did Strathlight. It was at this time that work began on the building of the first picture theatre in the town by a local builder (20 March 1930 p. 3), and the Argus began publishing syndicated photographs of American movie stars.

Children's movies came to town when Daniel Brothers' Acme Pictures opened at Strathalbyn in 1932 and screened 'Mickey the Mouse.' (5 May 1932, p. 2) A.A. Jensen, owner of Acme Pictures finally completed the 'New Theatre' in the town in 1935 (13 June 1935, p. 3), and a 'Shirley Temple party' was given at the theatre, for local children. (12 September 1925, p. 1) After the war, there were still two weekly film events in Strathalbyn and two venues - the New Theatre and 'Town Hall Pictures' in the Town Hall. The New Theatre came to be called 'The Vogue' and later the 'Avon.' (13 November 1947, p. 2) By 1953 the Avon had a branch theatre at Macclesfield. (22 October 1953, p. 3) In 1965 the theatre was renovated, and a new plant installed. (4 March 1965, p. 1) In 1967 a Thomas organ was bought. (24 August 1967, p. 1) The theatre became Clark's shoe factory between 1973 and 1974. (29 August 1974, p. 1)

Strathalbyn was later a popular place as a location for film makers. Picnic at Hanging Rock had scenes filmed at Strathalbyn in 1975, using locals as extras and carriage drivers. (20 February 1975, p. 4-5) In 1990 a mini-series, Shadows of the heart, was filmed at Milang, also by the South Australian Film Corporation. (25 January 1990, p. 1, 8) In 1995 an ABC mini-series of Colin Thiele's Sun on the stubble, was filmed in part at Strathalbyn. (12 October 1995, p. 4) In 1998 'In a savage land,' set in New Guinea, was also filmed at Strathalbyn. (17 September 1998, p. 4) An issue of McLeod's daughters was filmed there in 2002. (4 July 2002, p. 8; 11 July 2002, p. 5, 12)

 Motor vehicles The early years of the twentieth century saw the spread of motor vehicles and the demise of the horse. This is very clearly reflected in the pages of country newspapers of the time. In 1912 George Hussey of Port Elliot held a sale of his horses, advertising that he had "decided upon adopting motor instead of horse-power in the conduct of his livery and letting business." (4 April 1912, p. 2) Motor came uniquely to Strathalbyn in 1904 when Gilbert and Sons of Strathalbyn built a motor cycle, and a detailed description was given in the Argus. (19 May 1904, p. 3) This was called the 'Treblig' cycle - Gilbert spelt backwards - and by 1924 it was available in both roadster and racing models. (2 October 1924, p. 2)

By 1908 R. Thomas of Strathalbyn was advertising in the Argus as an agent for secondhand motor cars (9 July 1908, p. 2) By 1923 A.L. Perry's Star Engineering Works were selling the famous Indian motorcycles (3 May 1923, p. 1) and T. Hobbs was selling a range of popular motor cars including Ford, Dodge, Studebaker and Oakland. (7 June 1923, p. 1) But Gilberts were perhaps the best-known of the Strathalbyn motor businesses, and have lasted under successive changes of ownership, retaining the Gilbert name, up to the present day. Gilberts were also the first advertisers to use photographs in their advertisments. (4 October 1923, p. 2) W.H. Gilbert, 'the founder of Gilbert Motors' died in 1972. (11 May 1972, p. 1)

In 1914 Murphy Brothers Motor Charabanc began running, (15 October 1914, p. 2) and established a weekly service between Adelaide and Strathalbyn. (5 November 1914, p. 2) In 1928 both Barrs and Maidments were running daily services to Adelaide. (25 October 1928 p. 3) At Christmas 1927, Father Christmas arrived at Ben Wundersitz' farm at Hartley in a motor car. (22 December 1927, p. 3)

Gilbert Motors displayed the new Holden motor car at Strathalbyn in 1948. The Argus estimated between 800 and 900 people came to see it, and several orders were placed. (9 December 1948, p. 1) In 1952 Gilberts diversified again, and became agents for Frigidaire refrigerators. (9 October 1952, p. 4) In 1960 they added HMV televisions. Photographs of the sale of the 100th television were published in the newspaper in July 1960. (28 July 1960, p. 1, 2, 8)

 Columnists One of the earliest titled columns in the Argus was 'Rustic growls by Cornstalk,' in November 1872. This was a commentary on topics of the day, probably based on the Register's 'Echoes from the bush,' a column of satirical political comment by 'Geoffrey Crabthorne.' The Cornstalk column only lasted one year.

In 1912 the long running 'Jottings by J.W.E.' (Joseph Elliott junior) began. Besides his ownership of the Argus, Elliott was a member of the town council, and mayor for 20 years. The newspaper was probably run by editor Fred Robertson and staff, giving Elliott time for his mayoral duties and writing his weekly, chatty column of reminiscences. On rare occasions he referred to contemporary local issues, for example the profanity and foul language of 'the youth of our Commonwealth.' (8 April 1915, p. 3) Often Elliott described episodes in his youth or interviews with old-timers. From August 1920 the column became less frequent and in 1926 it did not appear at all, being published only intermittently after this time until it ceased in 1934.

C.J.S. Harding of Port Elliot was a prolific writer of letters about South Australian history to both the Argus and the VictorHarbourtimes. During 1935 he wrote a 'Random notes' column. 'H.J.S.' (H.J. Stow) wrote a series of articles about the establishment of Strathalbyn to mark the centenary of the Corporation in 1968. (11 July 1968, p. 3) Other historical articles appeared intermittently in 1978, including an article about the paddlesteamer Jupiter, by C.A. Bowden of Milang (30 March 1978, p. 12) and a biography of Captain George Bain Johnston. (9 November 1978, p. 9) In 1987 W.A. Pretty of Goolwa began writing occasional history articles for the Argus.

A short-lived 'Social notes' column by 'Bang Bang' ceased following complaints about Bang Bang's humour. The description of those attending an 'old time ball' as being "not as young as they used to be," was probably the particular cause of annoyance. (17 July 1931 p. 2) A column, 'Small talk with Jacquie Levendis' was included in 1986. Also in 1986, 'Lawyer's column' written by local solicitor Jeremy Moore, began. In 1990 Bob Ables began a 'Coin talk' column. In 1998-1999 the 'Naturally healthy' column by Sara Bobrige of the Strathalbyn Natural Healing Centre featured.

In May 1950 the front page column 'Personalities by Roundsman' became the long-running 'Round and about.' Short paragraphs about local people and events were included in this for many years. The column ceased in June 1968, and was replaced for a time by a similar feature titled 'Here and there.'

An even longer running column was the Argus bird watching column. From 1963 until ---- 'About our birds by Robin' appeared regularly. The column had previously been called 'Time to stand and stare.'

Kathie Davie worked as a journalist at the Argus in the 1970s. She was active in many organisations in the town. Her photograph appeared in the newspaper when she won second prize in a national C.W.A. essay competition in 1974 (4 April 1974, p. 1) Later Mrs Davie was a prolific letter writer to the Argus, writing about such topics as the Iraq War in early 1991. In 1997 the names of several writers for the Argus appear on their articles. Don Shaw, a 'photojournalist,' wrote many news articles covering the Goolwa and Victor Harbour areas. (His photograph appears in 1998. (9 April 1998, p. 7)) Trevor Hammond also wrote articles relating to Strathalbyn. The names of Sue Pryor and David Jones appear for a short time. In 1999 articles about Victor Harbour by Rox Rosey appear.

 Photographs The Argus experimented with photographs at various times from 1899, but it was not until 1973 that photographs were used throughout the newspaper.

The first photograph printed in the Argus was of parliamentary candidate EH Limbert, in 1899. (20 April 1899, p. 3) A drawing of the new Congregational Church at Port Elliot was published in 1900. (22 March 1900, p. 3) For a short time in 1904 a variety of photographs of local people and events appeared in the newspaper. Four photographs were printed in the issue of 17 March, depicting a polo match at Strathalbyn, W.S. Reid (the Victor Harbour auctioneer), and 'a popular local musician' (Marion Kemp). Later issues included photographs of the Southern Branch Agricultural Bureaus' conference delegates (31 March 1904, p. 3) and an interesting photograph in an advertisement depicted R.W.E. Bodey the horse dentist performing his trade! (5 May 1904, p. 2) In April a small single sheet supplement contained photographs of the Strathalbyn women versus men cricket match, with the men wearing women's clothes. (14 April 1904) On 12 May a small two-page supplement was included with the newspaper with photographs of scenes at Currency Creek, on the Angas River, Strathalbyn, Milang, Hindmarsh River, and a photo of Mr Angas' prize bulls.

However, this experiment ceased and photographs appeared only intermittently, such as photographs of St Andrew's Church and the new pastor (Alex Mackenzie) in 1924. (3 April 1924, supplement) Advertisements for Gilberts' garage frequently included photographs, the first in 1923 (4 October 1923, p. 2), the new garage building in 1924 (24 April 1924, p. 2) and staff at work in 1931. (3 September 1931, p. 2)

With the rise of American movie stars, their syndicated photographs were published in the Argus, along with a 'Screen and its stars' column from 1930. This ceased during the Second World War. In late 1952 a lot of photographs were printed in the Argus. These were mostly in election advertisements, but also early sporting photographs were printed, showing local premiership football teams. (9 October 1952, p. 8) Like many country newspapers in the late 1960s and 1970s, Defence Department photographs were published. These depicted members of the forces in training for the Vietnam War, often including local men and women. From 1972 the Argus began publishing photographs of local events and people. A supplement to five country newspapers, the Murray Bridge Southern review, began being inserted in the Argus in May 1972. This contained many local photographs.

From early in 1973 the Argus used photographs throughout the newspaper, coinciding with its increase from eight to ten pages. Sporting photographs, wedding photographs, and photographs in advertisements proliferated. Sporting 'action' photos appeared from mid 1981. In 2000 a noticeable change in style saw more 'personality' type photographs, particularly in the sporting section.

 Cartoons In 1979 cartoons by a local man, Rodney Quinn were published in the Argus.

 Ownership The Argus was founded by Ebenezer Ward M.P., who had a colourful political and personal career, including a much-publicised divorce. The newspaper was first printed by William Henry Jeffery at Port Elliot, but in August 1867 Henry Pether is listed as the printer, and in October 1867 this changed again, to Simon Rennie. From the beginning of 1868 the newspaper was published by William Joseph Monaghan until April 1868 when the paper moved to Strathalbyn and George Thomson Clarkson became printer and publisher. From the first issue of 1870, the Argus was fully owned by Clarkson, who had purchased the share held by D.M. Mackie. (8 January 1870, p. 2) This changed again in May that year, when Joseph Vardon joined the Argus. (21 May 1870, p. 2) In April 1871 J.H. Sherring was the printer and publisher. In October he sold to William Fisher and Joseph Elliott. (6 October 1871, p. 2) Elliott had previously worked for some time at the Register, and his brother James was the owner of the Kapunda herald. Fisher left the partnership a short time later.

Joseph Elliott died in 1883, but the newspaper was carried on by his son Joseph W. Elliott, who had been managing the business during his father's illness. (21 June 1883, p. 2) He was followed by son Cecil Elliott, who in 1912 established the VictorHarbourtimes as an offshoot of the Argus. Interestingly, Cecil Elliott was also a photographer. (19 September 1909, p. 2) The newspaper became a partnership when Cecil Elliott was joined by George Jones, in September 1940. The Argus passed to Jones when Elliott died in 1969 and has been run by members of this family ever since.

 References: [The death of Mrs E.E. Bode], Southern argus, 12 August 1920, p. 3; 'Death of Mr J.W. Elliott,' Southern argus, 18 January 1939, p. 8; Gemmel, Nancy, Old Strathalbyn and its people 1839-1939, (Adelaide, National Trust, 1985) p. 38-39; 'Jottings by J.W.E.,' Southern argus, 5 November 1914, p. 3; 'The late Mr Joseph Elliott JP,' Southern argus, 21 May 1883, p. 2-3; Pretty, W.A., The Southern argus, its early administration,' Southern argus, 28 January 1988, p. 4.



Related names :

Elliott, Cecil

Elliott, James, 1836-1883

Elliott, Joseph, 1833-1883

Fisher, William

Jeffrey, William Henry

Jones, G.D.

Ward, Ebenezer, 1837-1917

Kapunda herald (Kapunda, S. Aust.)

Register (Adelaide, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1866
Place : Strathalbyn (S. Aust.)
Further reading :

Elliott, Joseph. Notebook, 1860, D2759 (L)

Elliott, Joseph William. Musical scores, n.d., D7298 (Misc)

Hirst, J.B. 'Ward, Ebenezer (1837-1917)', Australian dictionary of biography, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp. 351-352

'Southern Argus', Gemmell, Nancy. Old Strathalbyn and its people, 1839-1939, Adelaide, S. Aust.: National Trust of South Australia, 1985, pp. 38-39

Stowe, Harold J. They built Strathalbyn: a history, Leabrook, S. Aust.: Investigator, 1973

Internet links :



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