Julie King (nee Wright) and her siblings, were recently helping their elderly mother move into a nursing home when she found an old and slightly torn newspaper among her things.
Coming from a family steeped in the print publishing tradition, Julie unfolded the dusty artefact for a closer look.
The newspaper was a 97-year-old copy of the Byron Bay Record, the Shire’s first newspaper that was distributed around the Shire from the early 1900s for threepence a copy.
This particular copy provides a quaint snapshot of life in Byron in the 1920s. In the centre of the front page was an announcement informing locals that HJ James had just taken over the ‘well-known Shirley St Bakery’.
The new owner guaranteed ‘to supply the Town and District with the Best of Bread and Small Goods delivered daily to customers’.
The Shire’s keen interest in health and wellbeing was evident from the ad for Influenza Mixture placed prominently on the front page, as well as the ad for the slightly less therapeutic Wolfe’s Schnapps, which was said to ‘ward off chills and colds’ when taken at bedtime.
Julie’s own family had a proud connection to the newspaper business. Her parents Reg and Jean Wright and family produced the first edition of the Byron News on July 21, 1971.
‘Dad used to be the manager of the print shop around at Norco in Byron Bay where they used to produce all the printing requirements for the factory. In 1962 he started his own job-printing business out of our old residence on Bangalow Road. During this time he decided the town needed its own paper so he approached a lot of the local businesses to see if they would support a newspaper if he started one up. The feedback was positive and the rest is history,’ she says.
‘It was a family business, my brother taking it over in 1986 and continued to run it until it was sold it in 1993.’
Not long after the family sold the paper Julie came to work at The Echo, helping to streamline the paper’s production process.
Julie moved to Queensland, with her parents not far behind. Now, her mother Jean has come back to The Bay, moving into the Patrick Bugden VC Gardens RSL LifeCare Home at Suffolk Park.
‘Mum’s really happy to be back home,’ she says.