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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
april 2006 PaNPa bUlletiN | 45 hiStorY Today, the Katherine times is the biggest paid-circulation weekly in the Northern Territory, writes rod Kirkpatrick f or tourists intent on discovering the truth of the slogan, "You'll never, never know, if you never, never go", Katherine is a welcome stop as they escape the humidity of Darwin and Kakadu or as they travel north from Alice Springs. Katherine, 400km south of Darwin, is a large enough town (population 9,500) to af- ford tourists a meal break and a relaxing time before they cruise on Katherine Gorge, or continue their journey, but, of course, it is much more. Nearby RAAF Tindal is the main fighter base for the defence of northern Australia, and Katherine is the heart of a rich cattle, crop, fruit and vegetable producing region with a population double the size of the town. Katherine has had its share of newspaper competition since the early 1980s. Library records indicate the Katherine Informer began in 1974 and became the Katherine Adver- tiser in May 1979. On June 16, 1983, Vince Fardone and John McDonald launched the town's first tabloid newspaper, the Katherine Times, in a bid to give the locals a newspaper that would both inform and entertain. The Katherine Herald was established, too, making the field a crowded one (all three papers were weeklies), but only survived five issues. Far- done intended to use his pho- tographic mini-processing lab to subsidise the Katherine Times as it set out to gain ac- ceptance and credibility with local readers. The story begins Fardone and McDonald had 5,000 copies of the first issue printed and they used a yel- low mini-Moke to distribute complimentary copies. Both the mini-lab and the newspa- per flourished and the paper was making a profit in a very short time. In 1985, McDonald sold his interest in the Times to his partner, and Vince Fardone and wife Jill have been the owners since. Fardone said the typesetting for the Times for the first six years was done with a golf ball typewriter, an IBM typesetter, which cost $4500. "We had to wait for it to come from overseas," he said. "We had a small range of golf ball fonts. That was our only typesetting machine. We also had an ex News Ltd photo strip headline machine. You couldn't see what you typed into it and only discovered that you may have made a Floods destroyed the Katherine times offces in the Southgate Building, Katherine, in January 1998. Katherine Times: Short Life, Huge Success