by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
Esperance lived in hope It is hard to believe that the Western Australian port of Esperance (pop. 14,000) virtually had no newspaper from the end of 1898 until May 1965 when two papers started within a week. Esperance is one of the Australian placenames inspired by French explora- tion of the coastline of this great south land. In this case, the French navigator Bruni d'Entrecasteaux took shelter in a bay protected by rocky islands during a violent storm in 1792 and named the bay, appropriately, for L'Esperance, the first of the expedition's two ships to enter its water. "Esperance" is French for "hope". The Dempster brothers, of Northam, took up the first station property in the Esperance district in 1863 and John Forrest, on his first overland trip from Perth to Adelaide, reached Esperance in April 1870. It was not until 1895 that Esperance, with its population still fewer than 1000, gained its first newspaper, inspired by the gold rushes in Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie and various other districts about 400km to the north. A second newspaper started in 1896. The first paper, when it appeared on October 8, 1895, was titled Esperance Chronicle: Special Daily Edition, with William Anderson as printer and publisher for the Esperance Printing Co. Anderson told his readers that an accident in which the steamer Wyrallah had broken its propel- ler shaft had prevented the company from securing the printing plant required for printing a full newspaper. Meanwhile, he proposed to publish a single sheet each evening to provide the town with at least some news. It appeared daily for 11 issues, the last of which was dated October 19, 1895. Anderson said he planned to publish the first weekly issue the following week, but it did not appear until January 3, 1896, when a full-sized, four- page Esperance Chronicle announced in big headlines that it had obtained a Minerva Demy Folio Treadle printing machine. Proposals for a railway linking the gold- mining centre of Norseman with the port of Esperance became the focus of an editorial campaign for the Chronicle, which vowed that it "would not leave the matter alone". The government would not make any promises, however, until gold production had actually begun at Norseman. In May 31, 1896, the Esperance Chronicle began appearing twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On September 12 the same year, despite depressed circum- stances, a second newspaper, the Esperance Times, was launched, also appearing on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The founding partners were William Yorke McFarlane (formerly the manager of the printing department of the daily Coolgardie Miner), Charles Jeffery Davis (formerly of the Norseman Miner), and William Edward Caffin. They said in their introductory editorial that "the necessity for a purely local organ to embody the views of Esperance has been too freely commented upon by the general public of this town to need any references on our part". Although they were beginning with bi-weekly issue, they were ready, when the circumstances warranted, to publish the Times daily. In AC Frost's view, the Chronicle and the Times were "similar in appearance, format and layout". Suggesting they could even have come from the same press, he noted that in December 1896 Cyril Augustus McFarlane took over from William Anderson as the printer of the Chronicle. There was every likelihood that this McFarlane was related to the McFarlane of the Times. The Chronicle ceased publication on September 17, 1898, explaining that this course "was deemed advisable on account of the unfortunate circumstances in which the district has been place." The plant would be left at Esperance so that publica- tion could be resumed when indications of prosperity returned. The owners of the Esperance Times made a strategic move in 1897 that secured their immediate future -- they bought the Norseman Pioneer, which had begun publi- cation on January 18, 1896, as the Norseman Esperance Guardian and Dundas Goldfields Advertiser before changing its name to the Norseman Pioneer three months later. WY McFarlane, the partner who took charge of the Norseman operation, soon arranged to take over Norseman's other newspaper, the Miner, and from January 8, 1898, incorporated the two titles in the Norseman Times. "The granting of railway communication" was the new paper's pri- mary editorial objective. " We must have a railway," McFarlane wrote, "and day by day and week by week we shall bend our best energies to the task of assisting to procure railway communica- tion for this district, and our agitation on this point will never rest until this, our just and equitable demand, is granted". At Esperance, the dwindling revenues that afflicted the Chronicle also hit the Times, and it closed on November 5, 1898, without explanation, less than two months after seeing-off its rival. For the next 66 years, Esperance virtu- ally had no newspaper -- the Esperance Echo appeared for 17 issues, from June 6 until October 3, 1929, and there was another short-lived title later. On May 7, 1965, the Esperance News- Express managed to appear for the first time despite the omens being strongly against it. Two days before the newspaper's promised publication, the aircraft that was to carry to Perth for typesetting at Northam all the edi- torial and advertising copy for the first edi- tion could not land in Esperance because of storms. The town had no wet-weather airstrip. Copy had to be in Northam by 11pm that day, and so two News-Express staff members took it in turns to dictate by telephone to a relay of three Northam typists all the copy for the paper. It took more than five hours and cost £52. One week later, the Albany Advertiser launched an opponent for the long-awaited Esperance paper and called it the Esperance Advertiser. Bob Dunwoodie, who had served an apprenticeship as a Linotype operator at the Albany Advertiser, impressed managing editor Noel Whiteford with his attention to detail and his keenness to take on extra re- sponsibilities. Dunwoodie had also trained for three years as a journalist and was in- stalled at Esperance as "reporter-manager". The 24-year-old, who had moved from By Rod Kirkpatrick Rod Kirkpatrick takes a journey through the history of WA port township Esperance and its newspapers -- or lack of 58 PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 history