Library Special Collections Historical Notes on North Queensland Newspapers

Historical Notes on North Queensland Newspapers

Atherton | Ayr | Bowen | Cairns | Charters Towers | Clermont | Croydon | Herberton | Home Hill | Ingham | Innisfail | Mackay | Mossman | Mount Isa | Port Douglas | Townsville


Founded in 1904, the Barron Valley Advocate in 1908 became the Atherton News and Barron Valley Advocate. In 1931 the name was changed to Tableland Examiner, later (1942) to the Tablelander, and, in 1952, to Tableland Australian.

Between November 28, 1980 and November 27, 1981, Focus Tablelander (published in Mareeba) merged with the Atherton Times to become the Atherton Tableland Times. After November 1981, the title reverted to Focus Tablelander, until in 1983 it became the Tablelander Newspaper. Focus Tablelander and the Atherton Times were both published between November 17-27, 1981.


The Ayr Chronicle, first issued in 1897, in 1902 became the Delta Advocate. In 1944 it was retitled The Advocate.


The Port Denison Times and Kennedy District Advertiser first appeared in Bowen in 1864, the North's first newspaper. In 1900 this newspaper amalgamated with the Bowen Advocate (the predecessors of which were the Bowen Mirror and the Bowen Observer) to become the Port Denison Times and Bowen Advocate, published twice-weekly until 1910.

The Bowen Record began in 1902, but within a year had become the Bowen Independent and Proserpine Agriculturalist. After incorporating the Bowen Chronicle in 1920, the Independent, also published in part as the Weekend Independent, continues as Bowen's only newspaper today.

The Mirror, first published in 1896, it became the Bowen Advocate in 1898-1899, which amalgamated with the Port Denison Times in 1900.

Bowen Historical Society and Museum has complete holdings of the major newspapers from the earliest days.


The Cairns Chronicle (and Mulgrave, Herberton and Etheridge Advocate) was published (1) between July 1880 and February 1881, and (2) between January 1885 and November 1889. At the last named date a new owner changed the name to the Cairns Argus. In its various forms the Chronicle/Argus was published weekly, thrice-weekly, or twice-weekly, but when it became a daily in March 1900, the title changed to Cairns Daily Argus.

The rival Cairns Times (1) had first been issued in September 1882, and (2) in October 1899, but in each case survived only a few months. In 1919 or 1920, the Labor Party closed the Trinity Times and the Cairns Argus and revived the name Cairns Daily Times (3) for its new daily Labor paper. On 28 December 1935 the weekly Northern Herald absorbed the Cairns Times; in 1937 its name became Cairns Post.

The title of Cairns Times was retained for a weekly published between October 1986 and July 1987, previously known by the various names Focus News, Far North Focus (March 1975) and Cairns Focus (1979-1984).

The Cairns Post (1) had first been published in 1882 but the current Cairns Post (2) had a separate genesis, established in June 1895. It was first called the Post, then Morning Post from 1895 to November 1907, and Cairns Morning Post from December 1907 to July 1909. From that date the name Cairns Post was entrenched. In December 1935, the Cairns Post absorbed the weekly Northern Herald which had been started in 1913.

Cairns Historical Society has extensive archival newspaper holdings.

Charters Towers

Thadeus O'Kane devoted himself to improving the lot of the miners of Charters Towers. As editor of the Northern Miner, set up in 1872, he had been described as one who has 'accomplished more through the newspaper than by sitting in Parliament' (Manion Paper power in north Queensland 1982:152). From 1872 the paper has an unbroken run under the same name.

Its chief early rival was the Northern Advocate and Miner's Journal first issued in 1873, but when that went into liquidation in 1877, it was replaced by the Towers Herald and Mining Record, previously the Northern Advocate and Miner's Record. Eventually the Towers Herald was bought by the Charters Towers Mining Standard, published 1899-1904.

The North Queensland Bulletin was supplanted by the Northern Mining Register in 1891, subsequently becoming the North Queensland Herald. In 1911 it was absorbed by the North Queensland Register, an enduring newspaper which in the sparsely populated reaches of the North came to be known as the 'Bushman's Bible'.

The workers journal, Eagle, was founded in 1893, and renamed the New Eagle in 1899.


The weekly Peak Downs Telegram and Advertiser was first issued in 1864; after merging with the Copperfield Miner and the Peak Downs Record it was first titled the Peak Downs Telegram and Copperfield Miner, then continued as the Peak Downs Telegram and Advertiser. As the Clermont Telegram, it existed until its incorporation in Central Queensland News in May 1981.


The Croydon Miner, also known as the (Croydon) Mining News, began in 1887, continuing publication until 1929, but under the later title of Croydon Mining Record and Gulf Advocate. The Croydon Independent and Mining Record in 1907 incorporated the earlier Mining Record and Gulf Advocate under the title of (Croydon) Mining News. It continued until 1929.

The Croydon Golden Age also started in 1887, becoming the Golden Age and Normanton Advertiser in 1897. Two years later its name was changed to the Golden Age and Mining Register.


The Wild River Times and Herberton, Watsonville, Hodgkinson and Etheridge Miner was one of several newspapers established in this town in the early 1880s. Most of these were short lived, but the Wild River Times survived from 1883 until 1917 when it was retitled the Herberton Times. It was later amalgamated with the Barron Valley Advocate and the Tableland Examiner in Atherton to become the Atherton News and Barron Valley Advocate.

Home Hill

First issued in 1923, the Home Hill Observer in July 1969 underwent a name change to the Observer. In 1980 it was amalgamated with the Advocate at Ayr. (See Ayr Advocate 13.3.1998).


The Northern Age (?1896-1897) was first published in Townsville, then Ingham, then Halifax. At some point during this sequence it changed its name to The Planter. It was later called the Northern Planter (?1899) and, finally, in 1904 became the Herbert River Express of Ingham.


The Advocate, or the Geraldton Advocate and Johnstone River Guardian, was a weekly published from 1891 to 1899.

The Innisfail Advocate was first published in 1906. Previously the Johnstone River Advocate and Innisfail News, and incorporating the Northern Sportsman, at various times in its history was titled the Evening Advocate (to February 1975); the Innisfail Chronicle (Feb-Oct 1975); reverting to Evening Advocate (Oct 75 - Mar 78). It was continued in part by the Weekend Advocate.

The Democrat, 1929-1930, was successor to the Geraldton Sentinel and previous to that was called the World (1903-1911). No known copies of these exist.


The Mackay Mercury and South Kennedy Advertiser began in 1866. In 1906 the title changed to Daily Mercury after the incorporation of the Daily Chronicle (1895-1905). The title of Mackay Daily Mercury was adopted in November 1979.

The weekly Mackay Standard was founded in 1877, becoming a daily in 1911 and closing in 1919.

The Pioneer was published between 1905 and 1912, at which time it became New Pioneer. The Miners Gazette seems to have started in 1979, later being titled Miners Midweek and coming to an end in 1985.


From 1884 until 1949 the Northern Boomerang and Cooktown Independent was a Mossman paper, but for the last six years of its life it was published at Cooktown.

Mount Isa

The Mt Isa News was issued weekly from May 1965 to July 1966. From various holdings it appears to have been later titled Isa News (1970-1980), Isa Mine and Your News (1980-1986), Isa News from 1986 (the issues of 3.11.94-2.3.95 were titled Minews), finally reverting to the title of Isa News.

Earlier, from 1953-1966, the Mount Isa Mail had serviced the town, but when the Mail and the Cloncurry Advocate were, in July 1966, incorporated, it became the North West Star, which is still being published.

Port Douglas

The weekly Port Douglas Gazette was first issued in 1879 or 1880. It was continued or reincarnated as the Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette in 1896. Kirkpatrick notes the existence of a weekly established in 1901, the Port Douglas and Mossman Record.

The Times, later the Port Douglas Times (2) and Northern Eagle ran for some ten years over the 1890s. An earlier Port Douglas Times (!) had been published over 9 months in 1878.


Although a newspaper called the Castletown Times seems to have been in existence in 1865, Townsville's first documented journal was the Cleveland Bay Herald and Northern Pioneer, which lasted from March to June 1866. Within two weeks of the Herald's demise, the Cleveland Bay Express and Northern Advertiser had become its successor. In June 1867, after a brief hiatus, that journal reappeared as the Cleveland Bay Express and Cardwell Advertiser (later titled the Cleveland Bay Express and Cape River Mining News). It was published until 1876, when it merged with the Townsville Times and North Queensland Advertiser (Townsville's second newspaper, founded in 1874) to become the Townsville Herald (thrice weekly).

In September 1881, the Townsville Bulletin first appeared, twice weekly for its first sixteen months, then daily. When the Herald and the Bulletin merged in 1884 the Herald then became a weekly, at first under the title of the North Queensland Bulletin, and, from 1891, as the North Queensland Herald. Finally, in 1911, it was incorporated in the North Queensland Register, which was originally based in Charters Towers. Manion (1982:162) remarks that the North Queensland Register "was to provide a uniting medium for the vast, sparsely inhabited territory of North Queensland, and it became known as the 'Bushman's Bible'." Many of the Townsville papers of the pre-Federation era employed the words Northern or North Queensland in their titles, perhaps reflecting the town's role as the centre of information for the whole area.

The Bulletin's newly erected building was, in 1912, gutted by a fire which resulted in the loss of all the newspaper's archival records, and probably those of its various predecessors. The Townsville Evening Star, formed from a merger of the Cleveland Bay Express and the Townsville Times in 1889, was absorbed by the Townsville Bulletin in 1940.

The Townsville Argus appeared for a short time in 1877, apparently subsumed by the Northern Standard in 1878. By October 1883 the name had changed to the Daily Northern Standard, as attested by a souvenir copy printed on silk. The paper changed hands in 1885, becoming first the Echo, then the Northern World, before passing on.

A satirical journal, the Cockatoo, was printed in 1883; it was later re-titled North Queensland Figero and published at Charters Towers between 1884 and 1900.


Browne, Spencer. (1927) A Journalist's memories. Brisbane, Read Press.

Kirkpatrick, Rod. (1984) Sworn to no master: A history of the provincial press in Queensland to 1930. Toowoomba, Darling Downs Institute Press.

Manion, James. (1982) Paper power in north Queensland: A history of journalism in Townsville and Charters Towers. Townsville, North Queensland Newspaper Co., 1982.

National Library of Australian (1985) Newspapers in Australian libraries part 2 Australian newspapers. Canberra, National Library.