Rural Weekly deputy editor Andrea Davy said the paper has valued farmer's willingness to speak out, such as this 2013 story on declining mill output with Mirani cane farmer Jeff Bradshaw. Picture: Tony Martin
Rural Weekly deputy editor Andrea Davy said the paper has valued farmer's willingness to speak out, such as this 2013 story on declining mill output with Mirani cane farmer Jeff Bradshaw. Picture: Tony Martin

End of an era for rural news

RURAL Weekly will run its final edition in Thursday's Daily Mercury.

Rural news has been a core round of the Daily Mercury across it's 150-plus years. It had to be, Mackay being founded as a centre for grazing, and shortly after, for a developing sugar industry.

That need for strong rural coverage led to the creation of the Bush Telegraph, which evolved into an assortment of Rural Weekly editions across Australian Provincial News group, then into its final form of editions for Central Queensland, South West Queensland and Northern NSW, inserted into many regional dailies and weeklies, and running a circulation of 240,000 copies. It even had a Northern Territory edition at one point.

Longtime Rural Weekly journalist Sonia Ball was farewelled in a Harry Bruce cartoon for, published March, 2011.
Longtime Rural Weekly journalist Sonia Ball was farewelled in a Harry Bruce cartoon for, published March, 2011.

It was Sonia Ball who championed Mackay's Bush Telegraph and Rural Weekly for many years out of the nineties and into the new millennium, supported by Frances Cameron, grand lady of cattle and the QCWA, who would arrive near print day, always beautifully dressed even to the hat, commandeer a computer and whack out some magnificent yarn.

Both women were from the bush, and had that passion to communicate all facets of the life of farmers and graziers across the region, that has continued to define Rural Weekly right to its very last.

As there will be no digital future for the long respected publication, tomorrow's edition will be a special souvenir, a bumper crop of favourite yarns from recent years across the state, with contributions from our bevy of dedicated columnists and former staff.

Rural Weekly Deputy Editor Andrea Davy has had a long connection to Mackay, based here for five years covering rural and a former Daily Mercury Chief of Staff. She recalled the support offered by the local agricultural community, from people like Queensland Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri.

"When I was a cadet I could call him at 7 o'clock at night asking if my stories were accurate, sugar stories he wasn't even quoted in!" she said. "He really puts in the miles to have his industry represented well."

Ms Davy said it was that sort of tenacity that defined farmers everywhere.

"Rural Weekly thanks farmers for always being gutsy and speaking out."


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