Published Day: Wednesday
Circulation (Paid): 2250
Cover Price: $1.40 GST Inc.
Address: 12 Peake Terrace, Waikerie
Postal Address: PO Box 101, Waikerie, SA 5330
Phone Number: (08) 8541 2060
Fax Number: (08) 8541 3720
Email Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org
The River News is part of the Taylor Group of Newspapers, with sister newspapers in Renmark (Murray Pioneer), Loxton (The Loxton News), Gawler (The Bunyip) and Pinnaroo (The Border Times).
The River News serves a large area encompassing two District Council areas of Loxton-Waikerie and Mid Murray. Waikerie is a major Riverland town and boasts an extensive horticultural history, with one of the largest packing houses in the Southern Hemisphere. Situated along the best stretches of the River Murray in South Australia, the area is growing in popularity as a tourist destination, and easily accessible for day trips from the city.
THE RIVER NEWS was born from a “flood” of ideas.
Heavy rains and smaller floods in the years preceding 1956 contributed to the size of the historic “once in a lifetime” flood. Along with the flood came the necessity for communities like Waikerie to work closely to save life and infrastructure.
The River News became the local voice of widespread communication at a time when everyone needed to know what was happening and what to expect as the flood was about to peak in the weeks and months ahead.
The newspaper was established by Colin and Meg Hetzel, who had purchased the Waikerie Printing House from Harry Alchin and his family in late 1955.
They originally carried on the traditional printing of work ordered by local business with basic equipment comprising old hand-set type, a hand-fed platen and old ex-News Ltd. Wharfdale press used for larger work, and hand-operated guillotine.
Recalling his start at Waikerie, Colin Hetzel said he updated some of the equipment soon after arriving, adding an electric guillotine and a modern Heidelberg platen press.
“All went well until there was the 1956 flood – and we could see that this was our opportunity to publish a local newspaper, as the only local paper was The Murray Pioneer (based at Renmark),” Mr Hetzel said.
Having got the go-ahead from the Waikerie District Council to produce a newspaper, the first edition hit the streets on July 19, 1956.
Mr Hetzel was editor and printer and his wife attended meetings, took shorthand and reported on local events as well as proof-reading and office management.
“These were busy times, as we were raising a family of four children,” he said.“I had to get help, so I contacted Jack Pick who was a friend and linotype operator with News Ltd. in Adelaide.
“When Jack contributed his talents we enlarged the paper to a 12 pager and sometimes 16 pages and increased the size of the sheet.
“All went well, but after seven years I had to return to Adelaide for family reasons and Jack carried on. We sold out (business shares) to The Murray Pioneer in 1962.”
Remarkably, The River News has only had four editors in its history – Colin Hetzel, Jack Pick, John Pick and current editor Craig Treloar.
For John Pick serving as managing editor for more than 30 years was a rewarding experience, working with many people from all walks of life. During that time he has also served as a committee member of the Country Press Association of S.A. Inc. for 28 years. He served as president and was made a life member in 2003.
He was also a past chairman of directors of S.A. Country Newspapers Ltd. and served as an executive member of Country Press Australia. Despite his long and ongoing involvement at State industry level, he said his greatest pride was his local community. One of the standout campaigns in his term was working with the community to retain the Cadell Training Centre.
There have been many issues over the years, the growth then roller-coaster ride of the citrus industry, the vine pull in the 1980s, the great years of the Waikerie Co-operative Packing Shed and then its demise, the prospect of a straight-line racing industry and its ultimate demise, development of the inland aquaculture industry, floods in 1956 and 1973 and the elongated drought of the early 2000s.
The paper won the best country newspaper (circulation under 2000) in 1971; the Conqueror Trophy for the best newspaper (under 5000 circulation) in 1975; the Ampol Award for best country newspaper (under 5000 circulation) in 1983; and the Country Press SA Inc. best newspaper (circulation under 2500) in 2007.