Here Is the First Mention of Newsagencies in Australia


This is an expanded version of an article I wrote on Thu, 20/05/2021. I have reprinted it mainly as there is much interest in the topic.

POS Solutions was asked to give a talk on newsagencies to the ACCC, which I was happy to do to show our commitment to supporting newsagents. So I went to HWT to ask for some information. The HWT manager suggested I start my talk with the history of newsagencies in Australia, saying it would be a good start to get into it. He then proceeded to give me some information. I did some of my own research, and here is what I found. Newsagents have a rich history in Australia.

Firstly, despite what people say, the start had nothing to do with the Gold Rush; newsagencies were firmly established in Australia long before then. 

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser were the first newspapers printed in Australia. They were first published on 5 March 1803, only 15 years since Australia was established. The Sydney Gazette was initially an official publication of the government of New South Wales but soon privatised. Initially, Australian newspapers were sold directly from the printing offices. As more newspapers were established, booksellers and stationers started selling them. The  earliest reference I have to newsagencies in Australia is in the South Australian Record  Wed 8 Nov 1837  

It does not, unfortunately, list the state or details, but shortly afterwards, on Mon 2 Dec 1839, it states in this publication.

Earliest reference to an Australian Newsagency

Interestingly, it was long before the Gold Rush and in a state that would be relatively unaffected by it.  We then start to see newsagencies listed often. So, by 1837, we had an established newsagency industry. From what I can gather, a storekeeper made a private deal with a newspaper publisher to sell newspapers. The early newsagencies called themselves *news-agents* as they had an agency of a newspaper publisher. What it does highlights the ingenuity of early storekeepers who saw an opportunity in newspaper distribution.

Here are the earliest photos I could find of newsagencies in Australia, 

Earliest photo of an Australian Newsagency

Short Street, Hill End, in 1872, when the gold town was at its peak. State Library of New South Wales.

If you notice, it sells much more than newspapers. 

An early Australian newsagency

J. Phillips' Newsagency, Fruitrer (sic) and General Dealer, Hill End1870-1875

By 1879, the first Newsagents Association in Australia (VANA) was formed in Melbourne. This formation signified the industry's growth and need for collective representation.

The rest is history.

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