A little bit of history…
It’s been 161 years since James Gearing endured a 10-day wagon ride from Melbourne to arrive in Maryborough in 1855.
Like many who came to the area that year, Gearing saw opportunity in Maryborough, not in gold, but in print. A Kent born printer, Gearing worked from 8 am on a Thursday until 7 am the following Saturday to produce a small one-sided paper which he called The Maryborough Advertising Sheet. Backers of Gearing’s soon helped establish a permanent office in town and the paper soon grew to a full-sized four-page newspaper published on Tuesdays and Fridays, the same publication days as today’s modern version.
The Advertiser soon had its competitors with The Times going to print in the same year. When the gold rush moved to Dunolly, so did the news with The Advertiser experiencing a temporary hiatus during the shift. Edward Nuthall, a business partner of Gearing’s along with Jabez Walter Canfield, revived the paper after the break and it merged with The Times. The new union was short-lived however, lasting just a few weeks before a disagreement saw the partnership break down. While Nuthall produced the Maryborough paper, Gearing and Banfield established The Dunolly Advertiser.
With small gold rushes increasing business in Maryborough, Gearing returned to manage The Maryborough Advertiser while Banfield remained in Dunolly. On Wednesday, November 19, 1856 a full-sized four-page Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser was produced and published by E H. Nuthall & Co at Maryborough and Dunolly. One of the paper’s earliest editors was Julius Vogel, a man who reported on the Dunolly gold rush before joining The Advertiser for three years. He went on to become Sir Julius Vogel and Premier of New Zealand.
Changes still lay ahead of The Advertiser, with Nuthall’s death in 1860 seeing the paper sold to James Evans in March 1861. In 1873 Evans went through a religious phase which lasted three years. With many of his articles appalling Christian readers, Gearing set up a rival newspaper The Maryborough Standard. While The Advertiser reverted to reporting news in 1876, The Standard remained and Maryborough was serviced by a paper six days a week with The Advertiser available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and The Standard on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Advertiser was eventually sold to C. F Weston and G. Edwards in 1882 while Gearing eventually retired from the newspaper business in 1893, handing over production of The Standard to his sons James and John. When James suddenly died in 1920 at the age of 62 without leaving a will, the plant and stock was disposed of and purchased by The Maryborough Advertiser, which absorbed The Standard and formed a single, daily newspaper.
The future of The Advertiser then became much more stable, although it changed hands numerous times. T.P Richards, who joined the paper as a journalist at the paper in 1916, became an owning partner with J.P Kennedy until the business was sold to F.G Garth in 1927. H.C Jacobs and J. Mackay took over in 1929 and maintained the paper throughout the war years.
In 1945 the pair sold the paper to The Sunraysia Daily with the Elliot Group introducing a crusader to the masthead. Following the war, the expansion of Hedges and Bell saw the printing group take over the paper on May 1, 1953. That year saw The Advertiser print its first photographs, taken at the Maryborough Show. A year later four colour photos were printed on the front page of a centenary issue on April 15, 1954. It would be another four years before new block-making equipment allowed The Advertiser to regularly print pictorials.
In 1961 Hedges & Bell was purchased by Patience and Nicholson with the group owning the paper until 1983 when it was purchased by Maryborough Regional Newspapers. Maryborough Regional Newspapers still owns The Advertiser today and in its two editions a week, it remains solely dedicated to entertaining and informing the communities of Maryborough, Avoca, Bealiba, Carisbrook, Clunes, Dunolly, Lexton, Talbot, Tarnagulla and surrounds under the guidance of managing editor Michael Rossi.
The way people consume and digest information is changing in the digital world and The Advertiser is embracing these technological advances and looking to expand its place in the changing landscape. Like James Gearing in 1855, we are unable to envisage exactly what the future will hold for this newspaper, however The Maryborough District Advertiser looks forward to maintaining its positive relationship with its readers and advertisers.