Whenever I go somewhere I’ve not been before, I make sure to get hold of the local newspaper, and tune in to the local radio station. It’s one of the ways I get to know a place.
It’s possibly a bit old fashioned, a custom born in an era when most small towns had their own paper and the services of a locally owned radio station somewhere in the district.
The Australian media landscape has changed a lot, and there’s much less locally owned media in the bush these days. Even so, you can still learn a lot about a place from its local paper and radio station.
Of course, running a media business in regional Australia is no recipe for riches. Here in far north Queensland, we have a good assortment of local papers, some of them venerable titles. But one that flourished briefly in the 1980s is no more, and the State Library of Queensland is keen to find any remaining issues of The Cape Times.
Not many people remember this paper, which came out of Cairns and claimed to be the “only publication that circulated throughout the entire Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait Islands”. It was delivered by air, and was run on a shoe-string by a husband and wife team. The Library has recently been given a few copies of the Cape Times and would dearly like to acquire more, and fill in the blanks in the story of the newspaper.
“Really quite extraordinary things like the story of how Errol Flynn smuggled opium into the Cairns harbour” Libby Fielding on some of The Cape Times stories
It offered an eclectic mix of stories during a fascinating period on Cape York Peninsula. For a time, it offered free advertising space. The paper is particularly interesting to historians because it was published in a time before regional newspapers routinely found their way into archives and databases.
Listen to the State Library’s Libby Fielding tell what’s known of The Cape Times story.
Can you help? Do you know who published The Cape Times? Maybe you have a few old issues in your shed or some pages under the kitchen lino? The State Library would love to hear from you. 07 3840 7810 is their number. And you can read more about The Cape Times