Established in 1864, The Southern Argus, published in Strathalbyn, a rural town steeped in history and the gateway to the tourism mecca of the Fleurieu Peninsula, circulates predominantly in the Alexandrina Council region, along with the Victor Harbour, Mt Barker, Murray Bridge, Onkaparinga and Yankalilla council areas. Having a varied range of lifestyles, stretching from the hills, River Murray and lakes, to the sea, all sports are catered for including thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing.
The area has an ever expanding population with city style development and there is a diversity of industrial and rural economic activity including livestock, viticulture and wine making, cereal cropping, dairy produce and other agriculture production, along with milling and mining.
THE SOUTHERN ARGUS and River Murray Advertiser first hit the streets 146 years ago, in March, 1866.
Launched by Ebenezer Ward, it was published from The Globe Hotel in Freeling Street, Port Elliot, on SA’s South Coast.
The paper continued to be produced at Port Elliot for just over two years before its headquarters moved to Strathalbyn. It was first printed at Strathalbyn on April 18, 1868, and was published there by the Jones family. In February 2021, the masthead was sold by the Jones family to the Robinson family (publishers of "The Leader” newspaper in Angaston).
Being one of the first non-metropolitan newspapers in the state, the paper demanded quite a large circulation area in those early days, with reports of the paper being distributed to towns along the length of the Murray River as far east as Albury. This would probably justify early claims of it being the ‘River Murray Advertiser’.
The river in those days was the life-line of commerce for the areas it ran through and was competitively serviced by a large fleet of wood-fired, steam driven paddle boats and barges, some restored and in use today.
The Southern Argus has always been independently owned. Mr Joseph Elliott bought the paper in partnership with William Fisher in 1871. Mr Fisher did not stay long and when Mr Elliott died in 1883 the paper was run by his son, Joseph W. Elliott, who was a driving force in the formation of the Provincial Press Association of South Australian in 1912. He was president of the association in 1914-1915.
Mr Joseph W. Elliott, with his son, Cecil, was also responsible for starting the Victor Harbor Times in 1912. The Times is now published by Fairfax Media which bought it from the Willson family’s S.A. Regional Media company in March, 1991.
The Southern Argus became a partnership when Cecil and Mr George Jones joined forces in September, 1940. Their partnership continued until 1969 when Cecil died. Since that time the paper has been published by the Jones family who have been involved with printing and the newspaper for four generations.
The family members have also been involved in the extensive revolution that has occurred in newspaper production, right through from the handset letterpress days to the present era of digital imaging and high speed offset printing.
Early editions of The Southern Argus were only four pages – about half of the paper was advertising, including most of the front page.
By mid-June, 1868, the date line of The Southern Argus read ‘Strathalbyn’, indicating that the headquarters of the Southern Argus Printing Works had been relocated to Commercial Road, Strathalbyn, where this beautiful building still stands today as commercial and domestic premises.
The Southern Argus carried both local and news from much farther a-field in June, 1868, and interesting news headings of this era included reports from the District Councils of Macclesfield, Yankalilla and Strathalbyn.
Correspondence was received from various people on a wide range of subjects, much like today’s ‘Letters to the Editor’ with Murray River trade and the proposed Incorporation of Strathalbyn being issues of those days in mid-1868.
The 20th June issue of 1868 included articles titled ‘The Charms of the Trapeze’ and ‘The Transfusion of Blood’, the latter coming from The New York Nation, with a whole column of the issue devoted to the subject, the last paragraph reading: “There are 76 recorded cases of transfusion, notwithstanding the thousands of instances where it might have been serviceable; for wherever death threatens through loss of blood there is a possibility of saving life by this mode of treatment.”
Published Day: Thursday
Circulation (Paid): 1600
Cover Price: $1.50 GST Inc.
Address: Strathalbyn, SA
Postal Address: PO Box 55, Angaston, SA 5353
Phone Number: (08) 8536 2900
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