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Byron Shire
December 2, 2022

Byron Bay’s 1920s printed past dug up

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Byron Record.

Paul Bibby

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 King and her mother Jean Wright. Photo supplied.

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.

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  1. ‘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.’

    This could also have been because in 1919 some 12,000 people in Australia over and above the usual death rate died from ‘pneumonic’ influenza. This was nearly the equivalent of the annual death rate of the AIF during World War I (60,000 over four years). Far more people caught the influenza and recovered, but at the time it was an illness to be feared and one that carried the potential of a difficult death.

  2. It was amazing to read this article as I came from Byron Bay I lived in Bangalow Road unti I left in 1972 . Thank you for this article Jacquelyn Price nee Pezzutti.

  3. I was excited to find this article on the internet this morning with my dear friend and pen pal, Jean Wright, mentioned! Jean and I began corresponding in 1959. My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting she and Reg and family in Australia twice, and they visited us in Michigan as well. I lost track of Jean after Reg died and have been unable to find any information until now. I would be so appreciative if this comment would be forwarded to Julie King and perhaps she could email me at [email protected]. Thank you so much. Ginny Young


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