The Plains Producer has thrived for 100 years in the Lower North and Adelaide Plains region serving SA’s premier wheat and legume growing district. It is also home to a growing multi-million dollar export hay business. Primo Abattoirs, poultry and pig farms are providing many new jobs resulting in a growing housing boom.
The area is experiencing rapid growth from Snowtown in the north along Highway One to Virginia, Two Wells, Mallala, Hamley Bridge, to the Gilbert Valley towns of Riverton, Saddleworth and Auburn, and the towns in between.
Circulating in the towns of Port Wakefield, Balaklava, Owen, Hoyleton, Whitwarta, Mount Templeton, Nantawarra and surrounding districts, the paper boasted that“its columns would be open for the discussion of matters affecting the welfare of the community”.
SEPTEMBER 25, 1903 was an auspicious day for the Lower Mid North District. It was the birth of the newspaper, The Central Advocate, now known as the Plains Producer.
It said: “Our object in chief will be, through the columns of The Central Advocate, to give publicity to all local matters of interest, also those of other towns.
“It is our intention to keep before our readers the leading questions of the day, both political and social.”
With a front page full of advertisements, news was wedged between more advertisements on pages two, three and four.
The paper has had few owners in its 108-year history. Founded by Mr James Walker, it was purchased in 1910 by Mr W. Hancock who went into partnership with Mr S.W. Osborne. In 1923, Mr Osborne became sole proprietor.
Mrs Amy Henstridge became proprietress in July, 1926, after relinquishing the Snowtown paper The Stanley Herald.
From September, 1932, the Henstridge family took ownership and publication was suspended during World War II. After the war the Henstridge family continued publishing the paper until 1975 when it had new owners, Mrs Dorothy Braunack and Mr Jeff Sutton who sold the newspaper rights to Smedley Press, of Glenelg.
The name was changed to the Wooroora Producer in September, 1909, incorporating The Central Advocate and The Hamley Bridge Express and with it news finally made it to the front page of the publication.
Another name change in July, 1940, dropped Wooroora and the paper became know as The Producer.
By this time the front page was full of news with minimal advertising.
In 1983, the outlook was grim for The Producer. In fact many joked it was an “egg timer read”. At this time it was owned by the Milnes family who also owned the Victor Harbor Times and was a weekly, eight-page paper.
This was when Roger Manuel was given the chance to buy the newspaper and, full of faith, set about turning the “egg-timer” paper into a viable business, reflecting the ideas and opinions of the district. A new name was created, The Plains Producer, a perfect way to give the paper a new image.
Roger improved the content of the paper and knowing the importance of sport in the district, expanded the coverage of sporting events.
When Roger died in 1995, his wife, Margaret, took on the role of managing editor until she sold the business to one of her sons, Andrew Manuel and his wife, Merridy, in 2008. The couple has continued to expand and improve the newspaper to its current format of 32 pages.
The Plains Producer is available weekly on Wednesdays after being printed by The Yorke Peninsula Country Times at Kadina on Tuesday evenings.
It is available in towns throughout the Adelaide Plains and Mid North from Virginia in the South to Snowtown in the north and towns in between. It also is circulated at Mallala, Hamley Bridge and the Gilbert Valley to Clare. Andrew Manuel also publishes the Two Wells and Districts Echo, a color tabloid newspaper.
The Plains Producer has won many newspaper awards. It won the Country Press SA Inc. award for best newspaper (under 3000 circulation) in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2008 and 2009 and Best Newspaper (2400-5000) in 2016.
Published Day: Wednesday
Circulation (Paid): 3,500
Cover Price: $1.70 GST inc.
Address: 9 Howe Street, Balaklava and
274 Main North Road, Clare
Postal Address: Box 63, Balaklava, SA 5461
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