Published Day: Thursday
Circulation (Paid): 1484
Cover Price: $1.50 GST Inc.
Address: 20 Osmond St, Kingscote SA 5223
Postal Address: 20 Osmond St, Kingscote SA 5223
Phone Number: (08) 8553 4800
Fax Number: (08) 8553 4888
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The Islander serves the whole of Kangaroo Island, the third largest island off Australia’s coast.
The island is a highly productive agricultural area, with main products being sheep, wool, cattle, barley, grain, legumes, honey and eucalyptus oil, while the fishing industry is also vital to the local economy. Because of its magnificent natural beauty and large areas of National and Conservation Parks, the island is a favourite destination of visitors from throughout the world and has led to tourism becoming the single most important industry on the island, generating $90 million annually. The island has a population of approximately 4,300 permanent residents.
THE ISLANDER is only middle-aged, a newcomer in newspaper terms.
Founder Neville Cordes wrote in his memoirs of the struggle to start the paper in 1967. “In 1966 while on honeymoon in Lorne I noticed a little newspaper called The Lorne News in the shops there. It was only 12 to 16 pages of folded foolscap but a light bulb popped. I could do that on Kangaroo Island,” he writes.
“For three or four months I operated out of a small section of the coffee lounge. The news copy was sent to a printer in Adelaide.”
The Islander cost 5c and sold 185 copies of its first edition on January 19, 1967.
Its competition was the Kangaroo Island Courier, which had been sold to Glenelg interests in 1957 and was printed in Glenelg.
Mr Cordes soon realised he needed to be printing on the island and stopped printing while he secured the equipment. The Islander was re-born in April, 1967, and printed on a Rotaprint Duplicator.
The business grew to also be a commercial printer and stationer and had several premises around Kingscote.
In 1995, the paper was being edited by Ian Turner when it was sold to Rural Press (now Fairfax Media) and journalist Rob Ellson was named managing editor. He recalls the rapid expansion of the paper in the late 1990s under the guidance of Rural Press which invested money in the paper.
When Mr Ellson resigned in October, 2005, Shauna Black from The Advertiser in Adelaide became the paper’s fourth managing editor and remains there today.
Under her stewardship, the paper has increased circulation and won many awards including at the Country Press SA Inc. awards, SA Media awards and an Adelaide Archbishop’s Citation. In 2003, it won best community newspaper in the Country Press SA Inc. awards.
“I tried not to cut out anything the locals loved but just to add to the paper’s news coverage and features. Updated layouts and a commitment to quality photography and journalism has also helped to make The Islander a classy little paper serving
a population that relies on us for its sole source of news and information,” Ms Black said.
All editors ranked transport as the biggest ongoing issue for Kangaroo Island, from the days of government-provided sea transport to the advent of privately owned ferries in the 1990s. The costs of transport for farmers, maintenance of the island’s roads and the dozen or more airlines that have come and gone in the paper’s history have also been major issues.
The environment and tourism have ranked more highly in the past couple of decades as the island’s tourist numbers doubled over a decade and now number close to 200,000 a year. More recently, marine parks have become a topic of great debate as the island struggles with government plans to create sanctuary zones which may threaten fishing industries.
In recent years, the wine, food and art industries have grown their contribution to island life.
Bushfires feature prominently in the island’s newspaper history. The great fire of 1975 cut a swathe through the middle of the island from north to south, destroying everything in its path and killing one resident.
The death of Sapper Jamie Larcombe, of Parndana, while on active service in Afghanistan in February, 2011, created possibly Kangaroo Island’s most significant national event, a full military funeral in Kingscote with more than 2000 attending.
Julia Gillard became the first sitting Prime Minister to visit Kangaroo Island as top military brass mingled with KI locals to honour the young soldier.