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Areas' Express and Farmers' Journal
Title : Areas' Express and Farmers' Journal Areas' Express and Farmers' Journal
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Source : Areas' express and Farmers' Journal, 9 May 1919, p. 1
Date of creation : 1919
Format : Newspaper
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Description :

The Areas Express newspaper served the small towns and farming communities around Gladstone for over 70 years. It took a strong politically conservative stance, and included articles about a wide range of agricultural topics. The Express was a weekly through most of its existence, but enjoyed enough success to be published twice-weekly from February 1878 to July 1886.

Geographical coverage Booyoolie (later incorporated in the town of Gladstone) was specifically selected as the newspaper's base for its central position in the 'Areas' - newly opened agricultural lands in the mid-north of the state. Unlike most country newspapers of the time, the Express did not regularly print 'country correspondents' reports from nearby towns and districts until much later in its history. However, it did intermittently print news from a large number of towns and settlements. Most often covered (particularly in its early years) were Georgetown, Crystal Brook, Caltowie and Balaklava. News from Redhill and Port Germein was also regularly reported.

The geographical focus of the newspaper changed markedly with its changing ownership. More Port Pirie news appeared following the partnership formed with Stan Osborne of the Port Pirie Advertiser in 1910. Similarly, from 1928, when Lester Judell of the Jamestown Review bought the Express, there was a strong focus on news from that town. In both instances this included the (reciprocal) reprinting of many articles from the other newspapers.

Railway extension and land grants Like the newspapers in neighbouring districts during the 1870s and 1880s, the Express argued long and hard for the extension of the railway network to the districts it served. In 1877 a two page supplement was printed to cover a lively meeting about the subject held at Laura (14 July 1877). A second strongly held belief reflected views on making land purchase easier for intending farmers: '... in new countries railway construction should be carried out precedent to, or in company with, liberalized land laws ... ' (21 July 1877, p. 2). The newspaper suggested that Parliament needed to consult directly with the country people. 'It is rather amusing that while the House of Assembly, the press and the public are floundering about in the depths of the land question ... the only persons who could speak with authority on the debated points - the farmers themselves - are quietly ignored' (15 July 1882, p. 2).

Politics From the start, the Areas Express had an outspoken editorial policy regarding political matters. The 19th century editors of the newspaper were keen analysts of contemporary politics. 'In the midst of the political stagnation which prevails, the Gumeracha election comes as a relief' (17 April 1880, p. 2). From 1905 there was a strong pre-occupation with the 'evils' of socialism. The Express fully supported the formation and activities of the Liberal Union - a conservative political organisation for women. Elections - local, state and federal - tended to be well covered, with profiles of the candidates and discussion of the platforms.

Sport The Express did not focus as strongly on sport as did many country newspapers. The cricket teams of Gladstone are chronicled from 1878 and the local football club from 1880. In 1879 the newspaper reported on the first Great Northern Racing Club meeting in its 'Turf gossip' column (26 March 1879 p. 2). In 1882 the Express was outraged by a humorous article in Adelaide Punch suggesting there was not enough accommodation for visitors to the races, and that the 'palatial' Gladstone jail could be used. The Express seemed to think the suggestion was a serious one (19 April 1882, p. 2). For a time from the mid-1880s regular sporting columns appeared. The bicycle craze reached Gladstone in 1898, leading to the formation of the Great Northern Bicycle Club (4 November 1898, p. 2).

Women The first issues of the Express included humorous poems by 'Penelope' of 'Towrowrowie.' A column titled 'The Tattler' by 'Lena' appeared during the first two years. (Lena was criticised for her focus on spiritualism in an early article.) In 1884 at least one poem by Agnes Neale (Caroline Agnes Leane) appeared in the Express (26 February 1884, p. 3). In late 1892 a chatty women's column, 'Wednesday's obligations by Vera' was published.

Biographical information From 1902 the newspaper, like most country newspapers, began publishing more social and biographical articles. Detailed obituaries, descriptions of weddings and biographical sketches were printed. From 1924 to early 1925 a series of articles about old residents, titled '80 years or over', gave detailed information about the lives of ten elderly local men.

Agriculture The pages of the Express strongly reflected the agricultural nature of the community that it served. Beginning with reports of the Belalie Agricultural Society Show and the local harvest (8 October 1881, p. 2), the newspaper reflected the advances brought by mechanisation and the application of scientific principles. There were advertisements for tractors to replace horses and discussions on the use of super-phosphates and subterranean clover and a variety of other issues. The meetings of the Gladstone branch of the South Australian Farmers' Mutual Association were reported regularly throughout the life of the newspaper. In the Express's early years a column titled 'The Farmer' was published.

Photographs Photographs first appeared in the Areas Express in 1910. This included photographs of floods at Gladstone in that year which caused the deaths of two men (9 September 1910, p. 2). In September and October 1924, when the Gladstone Football team were the local premiers, front page photographs of the team and an historical photograph of the 1885 premiership team appeared. For a time in the mid-1920s many photographs were printed in the newspaper, mostly of individuals. During the Second World War these gave way to syndicated war photographs.

Cartoons In 1929 cartoons by Oswald Pryor, Mick Paul and others were published, 'by arrangement with the Bulletin'. Between 1938 and 1939 a cartoon strip, 'Sol and Blue', of unknown authorship, depicted the antics of two boys.

Ownership The newspaper was established by JSJ Pengelley and WJ Trembath. From October 1878 the proprietors were brothers David and Andrew Taylor and their brother-in-law David Bews of the Wallaroo Times. David Bews withdrew from the company at the end of 1880 and in December 1882 the newspaper passed to Gordon Kearney. In July 1887 Charles D Southcombe became publisher and printer and in April 1888 William Hancock took over the newspaper. From 1910 he entered into partnership with Sam Osborne of the Port Pirie advertiser and Woroora producer. In 1928 Hancock sold to Lester Judell. In August 1945 Judell retired to the city and his three newspapers, the Express, the Jamestown Agriculturist and Review, and the Laura Standard, were then run by managers in the three towns. In 1948 Judell amalgamated the three newspapers into the new Northern Review at Jamestown.

Related names :

Bews, David, 1850-1891

Hancock, William

Judell, L.M.W. (Lester Maurice Wolffe)

Kearney, Gordon

Neale, Agnes, 1849-1892

Osborne, Samuel Watts Ivey

Paul, Mick

Pengelley, Joseph

Pryor, Oswald

Sol and Blue (Comic strip)

Southcombe, Charles D.

Taylor, Andrew Fyfe

Taylor, David

Trembath, W.J.

Agriculturist and review (Jamestown, S. Aust.)

Laura standard and Crystal Brook courier (Laura, S. Aust.)

Liberal Union of South Australia

Northern review (Jamestown, S. Aust.)

Port Pirie advertiser (Port Pirie, S. Aust.)

Wallaroo times (Wallaroo, S. Aust.)

Wooroora producer (Balaklava, S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1919
Place : Gladstone (S. Aust.)
Region : Mid North



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