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Port Pirie gazette and areas news
Title : Port Pirie gazette and areas news Port Pirie gazette and areas news
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Source : Port Pirie gazette and areas news, 9 May 1879, p. 1
Date of creation : 1879
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 550 x 430 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :
Although wool, and later also wheat, were being exported from Port Pirie as early as the 1840s, the town itself was not officially incorporated until 1876, and in that year, Port Pirie's first newspaper, the Port Pirie gazette, was attempted. In its first issue the editor wrote:

The rapid occupation and development of the Northern Areas during the past three or four years have given this new country such a position that its prosperity is important to the whole colony, and its failure would be an immense disaster (4 February 1876, p. 2).

Tom Anthony and Thomas O'Brien were partners in a printing firm when they established the Gazette. From March 1881 Anthony ran the newspaper and its associated printing business on his own.

Content Much of the news in the Gazette was connected with the town's main livelihood - shipping. "If Port Adelaide is the front door of the colony then we may call Port Pirie the side door. We will not be so humble as to call ourselves the back door" (5 April 1878, p. 2). Promotion of the interests of the port, news of shipping arrivals and departures, regattas, and the activities of visiting sailors (including their appearances in the local courts), as well as deaths by drowning and a variety of related articles fill the pages of the newspaper. "Captain Graham...will not be responsible for any debts contracted by his crew, without his written authority," reads one of many official notices. The same issue also carries a notice from John Calder, "I hereby return thanks to all those Gentlemen who so kindly assisted in replacing my boat burnt by fire..." (7 February 1879, p. 3). Although the circulation of the Gazette included farmers in the surrounding 'Areas', apart from reporting the meetings of the local branch of the Farmers' Association, the newspaper did not include much material relating to agriculture. An early editorial actually claimed that the farmers were overly prone to run up unpaid bills with the local business people (3 December 1877, p. 2). In its last years, columns written under the pen-names of "A-Jacks" and "Phiz" contained humorous and satirical commentaries on local and wider news. Occasionally these prompted letters of complaint to the editor.

Geographical coverage The newspaper claimed to have a circulation that extended as far north as Port Augusta and sometimes news from places as distant as Clare and Tanunda was included. However, the most often reported towns included Napperby (Government Dam), Georgetown, Gladstone and Port Germein.

Religion Port Pirie in the 1870s and 1880s was a popular stop for travelling preachers. Anti-alcohol crusader Matthew Burnett visited in December 1880 and the Gazette reported that at his first lecture the local hall was "crammed". But, "Doubtless there would have been many more if the opening night of the mission had not been Saturday, which is looked upon as the shopping night of the week" (3 December 1880, p. 3). Even larger crowds came to hear the converted Jewess Emilia Baeyertz in 1883 (19 October 1883, p. 3). Baeyertz's quiet dignity and her well organised meetings were commented on favourably - in contrast with the first local meetings of the Salvation Army.

The first Salvation Army meeting in Australia was held in Adelaide, in September 1880. In its early years there were many complaints of the rowdiness of the Army meetings, with comments even being made in Parliament. Anthony generally took care not to voice strong opinions in his editorials in the Gazette, in fact he did not need to, as any controversial issues tended to draw plenty of letters to the editor - and often included personal abuse of other letter writers. In June 1883, a writer calling himself "Nemo", wrote of the Salvation Army, "I have been waiting to see some controversy through the columns of your journal anent the above subject, but none seems to have come forth from the 'Sleepy Hollow' ". Nemo complained that the Army lacked the dignity appropriate in religious worship, and that it's organisers seemed to encourage wives to speak ill of their husbands in public (22 June 1883, p. 3). The letter brought forth the expected return jibes. But the comments berating parents and mistresses for allowing their daughters and housemaids to attend meetings until late at night inspired the contribution of some clever character letters. The writer, posing as two housemaids, "Alleluyia Arriet" and "Unhappy Sal" used a style not unlike that of the later poems of C.J. Dennis.

Sport From the earliest issues, sport reports in the Gazette consisted of regular news of cricket matches, as well as articles relating to the annual regatta.

Closure The last issue of the Port Pirie gazette was printed on Christmas Day 1884. Anthony had not been pleased in 1877 when a rival newspaper was established to cover the 'Areas'. This was the Areas express, published by Joseph Pengelley of the Orroroo enterprise. By 1884 Anthony had become very bitter about the lack of support he felt in Port Pirie, and he made one final attack.

The businessmen of Port Pirie have not acted in any way approaching as they should have in supporting our endeavours...The only wonder to ourselves is how, looking back on the past, we have contrived to drag out such a miserable existence so long. We have had no encouragement to progress; on the contrary, when any dirty linen had to be washed we were expected to perform the nauseating operation, as it is tautologically put, free gratis for nothing... (25 December 1884, p. 2)

Related names :

Anthony Tom Charles Shepherd

Baeyertz, Emilia Lousie

Burnett Matthew, 1839-

Calder, John

O'Brien, Thomas Aloysius

Pengelley, Joseph

Areas express (Booyoolie, S. Aust.)

Orroroo enterprise (Orroroo, S. Aust.)

Salvation Army (Port Pirie, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1879
Place : Port Pirie (S. Aust.)
Further reading :

Anthony, Tom, 'The new paper,' Port Pirie advocate, 28 March 1885, p.

Bullock, Kenneth, Port Pirie the friendly city: the undaunted years, Norwood, S. Aust.: Peacock Publications, 1988



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