STANDING PROUD: John Skinner hold one of his favourite Bush Telegraph fronts.
STANDING PROUD: John Skinner hold one of his favourite Bush Telegraph fronts.

New era unfolds for rural news on the Southern Downs

FOR more than 30 years, the Southern Downs Bush Telegraph has been the region’s primary source of rural news.

Now, as we get ready to take news to a new and exciting form online, those who graced its pages many times over the years have shared their fondest memories.

As a Bush Telegraph reporter for more than 15 years, John Skinner learnt to relish an early morning start or a show preview.

While his column ‘A Word With …’ was a back-page hit with readers, it is the stories about humble farming heroes that will linger long after the final page prints.

“It was interesting because it gave rural people a chance to hear about their own people,” Mr Skinner.

“I specifically went looking for people who had achieved something but didn’t go out and blow their own trumpets.

“While I did stories on a lot of people who were quite well known, I also found the people who were quiet workers.

“There was a lady at Talwood who had worked at the school for 35-40 years and had won the Australia Day award.

“She had never before been mentioned anywhere, never had a story about it, yet in Talwood itself she was almost worshipped for the work she’d done for the community.

“Stories like those stick in my mind.”

In times of hardship, the Bush Telegraph has also been a way for farmers to voice an uncertain reality.

“We did a lot of articles on the effects of drought and it did allow people a voice to show how their dams were just a muddy puddle in the middle,” Mr Skinner said.

“I would say I did about 30 to 40 articles on drought back in ’99 alone.”

RURAL VOICE: For years, the Bush Telegraph has told stories right from out of our rural spaces, including the beloved Pig and Calf saleyards.
RURAL VOICE: For years, the Bush Telegraph has told stories right from out of our rural spaces, including the beloved Pig and Calf saleyards.

Former Dry As A Bone columnist Gerard Walsh agreed that over the years, the publication’s importance has only grown.

“People from Warwick, Stanthorpe and further afield often commented on the column, which proved to me how popular the Bush Tele had become with readers,” he said,

Even if at times it was a matter of “dodging the photographer” at Warwick livestock sales, agent Ross Ellis said it had been a “pleasure” working with the Bush Tele – a partnership that would continue long into the future.

“It’s important to get the message across to the broad community as well as a rural community,” he said.

“We’ll just have to embrace new technology and move with the times.”

As Mr Ellis points out, the story is far from over.

The Warwick Daily News will continue to publish all the region’s important rural news online, bringing a voice to the Southern Downs’ rural and farming families.

The Daily News is offering a great online subscription deal, which comes with a tablet to get you into the digital scene.

To take advantage, head to warwickdailynews.com.au/tablet.

For those who already have their own device, there is another great deal which gives two months’ free access to new customers. More at www.warwickdailynews.com.au/subscriptions/premium



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