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SA Newspapers: History and timeline

Information about South Australian newspapers

South Australian newspaper history

Unique beginnings

The state’s first newspaper (the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register ) was founded in London in 1836 as part of the Wakefield  plan, to create a sense of ‘concert’ (community) amongst British immigrants.

South Australia’s first newspapers were free of government censorship or regulation, in contrast to Britain and the other colonies.

Prolific press

The number of newspapers published in Adelaide peaked at 23 titles in 1894 - with 24 country newspapers and 3 suburban.

Radio, television and the Internet in the 20th century have all eroded newspaper production. The cost of publishing and loss of advertising income has made newspaper production increasingly risky.


The South Australian Advertiser was founded in 1858 as a competitor to the Register.

Each newspaper published an evening (tabloid) title, and a week-end (country) edition.

Electronic (telegraphic) news was expensive, so Adelaide newspapers joined with dailies in Melbourne and Sydney to buy news from bureaus such as Reuters.

The Melbourne Herald bought both the Register and the Advertiser in 1929, amalgamating them under the title the Advertiser.

Cartoon depicting James Allen, editor/owner of the Adelaide Times

(Monthly Almanac and Illustrated Commentator, May 1850)



1836 First issue of the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register published in London

1837 Second issue of the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register published in Adelaide

1837 Margaret Stevenson the first woman to write for the South Australian press as 'A Colonist' in the Register July 1837

1839 First country newspaper, the Port Lincoln Herald (short-lived)

1841 First illustrated newspaper, the Adelaide Independent published with loose cartoon-style illustration supplements

1841 First lady's column ('Jane's letters') published in the South Australian Magazine December

1843 The Adelaide Observer founded for country readers

1844 Andrew Murray took over the South Australian and began printing the writings of his sister-in-law, Catherine Helen Spence

1844 The Register published as first daily for just eight weeks from December 1844 to February 1845

1845 The first religious newspaper, Australiana, published

1848 First non English newspaper in Australia, Die Deutsche Post, published in Adelaide

1849 First sporting newspaper published, the Mercury and South Australian Sporting Chronicle

1850 The Register published daily (six days per week) from this time until its closure in 1931

1850 First in-text illustrations printed in the Mercury and South Australian Sporting Chronicle

1850 First free newspaper, the Adelaide Commercial Advertiser

1853 First commercial newspaper company formed to found the short-lived Examiner, closed after a few weeks and company took over the Register

1855 Steam printing introduced at the Register

1858 Australia's first inter-city telegraph line completed, linking Adelaide with Melbourne

1858 The South Australian Advertiser founded

1860 First successful country newspaper, the Northern Star, published at Kapunda

1861 South Australia's oldest country newspaper still in operation, the Border Watch, founded at Mount Gambier by Janet Laurie with her two sons

1862 First evening newspaper, the Telegraph published

1864 'Housewife's Corner' in Kapunda Herald first women's column in a country newspaper

1865 Adelaide Punch first published - no copies have survived

1867 The South Australian Catholic community began publishing the Southern Cross newspaper

1867 First locally published fully illustrated newspaper, the Illustrated Adelaide Post founded

1867 Catherine Helen Spence's 4th novel (Hugh Lindsay's Guest) serialised in the Observer May to November

1868 The Observer published its first regular 'Ladies column' and the rival Chronicle published a similar column titled 'The House'

1870 War correspondent dispatched to the Franco-Prussian War (William Ramage Lawson) by the Register

1872 Overland Telegraph Line completed, linking Adelaide directly with London

1874 First known children's column appeared in the Farmers' Weekly Messenger (Kapunda) in May

1876 First published lady cartoonist, Margaret Little, illustrated the single-issue Ephemera

1876 First illustrations in a country newspaper published in the Farmers' Weekly Messenger

1878 Catherine Helen Spence became a paid contributor to the Register and the Observer newspapers

1885 First suburban newspaper, the Free Press at Norwood - no copies have survived

1887 'Half-tone' photographs printed in the Observer in March

1887 'Sun pictures' or outdoor photographs first published in an Adelaide newspaper, Pictorial Australian, in May/June issue

1890 Comic strip consisting of a crude two frames only and without speech bubbles, drawn by C. Wall for Pictorial Australian from August

1890 Local edition of the Truth first published

1893 The Pictorial Australian moved completely to photographs rather than lithograph illustrations

1894 The Weekly Herald founded to support the Labour movement

1895 The Observer and the Chronicle began producing occasional photographic supplements

1896 Winifred Scott, possibly our first full-time woman reporter, appointed to the Observer

1899 'A lady reporter' first acknowledged in the Register

1900 Mrs Edith Dickensen 'special correspondent' for the Advertiser during the South African ('Boer') War

1902 The Observer and the Chronicle both began publishing weekly photographic supplements

1905 The Register and the Advertiser first began publishing weather maps

1912 First issue of the Mail, later titled the Sunday Mail

1914 Australia's first Greek language newspaper, Okeanis, published in Adelaide by George Nikolaides

1916 The Australische Deutsche Zeitung closed due to anti-German feeling during the First World War

1921 Possum's Pages began in the Mail in July

1921 Rebecca McGregor (nee Toseland) printer at the Port Augusta Dispatch took over the West Coast Recorder early and very politically outspoken female country newspaper owner/editor

1923 First issue of the News

1925 Crosswords first published in Register on 18 April as 'The Puzzle'

1929 The Register and the Advertiser taken over by Keith Murdoch of the Melbourne Herald

1929 Ginger Meggs cartoon strip first appeared in the Register on 14 September

1931 The Register ceased

1942 The Advertiser began putting news (rather than advertisements) on the front page from February

1948 The News changed from broadsheet to tabloid size

1951 Messenger Press founded at Port Adelaide

1972 The Sunday Mail first printed on a Sunday (rather than Saturday night) on 5 November

1975 The Chronicle, a weekly rural newspaper, ceased

1976 The last Saturday issue of the News published on 28 August

1984 Adelaide Review founded

1992 The News ceased, Adelaide's last evening newspaper

1992 The Advertiser introduced colour printing for photographs

1997 The Advertiser changed from broadsheet to tabloid size

2004 The Independent Weekly founded

2008 Launch of Trove web-site, containing digitised historic Australian newspapers

2011 The Independent Weekly became an on-line version only, as Indaily

2020 Adelaide Review ceased