The Bunyip, based in Gawler on the northern fringe of metropolitan Adelaide, is showing tremendous growth as the district experiences a massive population and housing boom. Favoured by city commuters, Gawler boasts “the best of town and country”. Gawler retains its country feel, with a widely scattered farming community and is the gateway town to the famous Barossa Valley wine region - also experiencing huge growth. There is an urban feel to the town, but Gawler remains a major regional commercial centre with large shopping centres throughout the district and an extensive educational system. A strongly-based horse industry - racing, harness racing and leisure-based on the many hobby farms - combines with many sports clubs.
The Bunyip, one of SA’s oldest newspapers, was founded in 1863. It is now part of the Taylor-owned Murray Pioneer group, with sister newspapers in SA’s Riverland at Renmark (The Murray Pioneer) and Pinnaroo (The Border Times).
THE ORIGIN of The Bunyip newspaper was born out of a group that lampooned local Friendly and Provident societies, such as Freemasons, Oddfellows, Rechabites and Foresters.
After several years of existence, the Gawler Humbug Society was determined to ‘make a strenuous effort to establish a propaganda for its glorious creed’ and The Bunyip was created, with William Barnet, who had established a printing business in Gawler six years earlier, the founder. The first editor of The Bunyip was Dr. George Nott, who was also Gawler Town Mayor in 1865.
In the very first edition of The Bunyip, or Gawler Humbug Society’s Chronicle, (Saturday, September 5, 1863), a clear explanation of its intention, which included 12 ‘rules’ and 12 ‘by-the-bye laws’, was made, which was witty and satirical, through The Arch Flam, The Bouncible Bam and The Surprising Sham.
And after that first edition, Dr. Popham sued The Bunyip for libel, which went to court with the plaintiff seeking £500. On March 16, 1864, the case was heard, with Dr. Popham awarded only one shilling, without costs.
The Bunyip was originally issued as a monthly until January, 1865, when it became a bi-monthly broadsheet. One year later it became a weekly, with less satire and more orthodox reporting of community matters.
Over the first 22 years of the paper, in the Gawler region, three other newspapers challenged The Bunyip for readers – The Gawler Times (March 5, 1869 to June 27, 1873), The Mercury (November 27, 1875 to July 8, 1876) and The Gawler Standard (January 11, 1878 to February 27, 1885), with the first and latter brought out by William Barnet, the last after The Bunyip premises were destroyed by fire.
Local news was regularly reported through the 19th century, including community groups activities, the political arena, sports, and unusual occurrences, but predominantly advertising paved the way for the viability of The Bunyip.
Of major significance, three editors of The Bunyip were responsible for the preservation of the history of the town of Gawler, with first, Dr. Nott writing ‘A short sketch of the rise and progress of Gawler,’ in 1861, followed by George Loyau’s ‘The Gawler Handbook’ in 1880, and finally E.H. Coombe’s ‘History of Gawler’ in 1908.
Many of Australia’s major historical events, which also touched Gawler such as the two World Wars and the depression, gained prominent news coverage in The Bunyip, while local sport, major development – especially the recent growth in the area over the past 30 years – and local people and what affects them, made up a major part of the Bunyip’s content.
The Barnet family played a significant role in the formation of the Provincial Press Association of South Australia, with Mr R. H. Barnet appointed the first president in 1912. In 1915-16 he was president of the national body.
After almost 140 years of Barnet family ownership, The Bunyip was sold to the Taylor Group of Newspapers. John Barnet along with brothers, Craig and Paul, handed over the reins to a new editor, Terry Williams, and managing director, Ben Taylor, in April 2003. The annual Gawler Show has always played a prominent part in The Bunyip, with liftouts, coverage and results, while any political or Royal visitor is headline news, as is any major sporting event, such as the Gawler Three Day Equestrian event, the Tour Down Under, and even the Sydney Olympic Torch relay, which went through the town, while history has also proved popular subject matter, and letters to the editor offers the community a voice.
Published Day: Wednesday
Circulation (Paid): 18,000
Cover Price: $2.00 GST inc.
Address: 120 Murray Street, Gawler, SA 5118
Postal Address: PO Box 160, Gawler, SA 5118
Phone Number: (08) 8522 1233
Fax Number: (08) 8522 4100
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Phone: 0417 839 846
Phone: 0447 226 690
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