The Albury Banner and Wodonga Advertiser was founded by Samuel Fry Blackmore on 1 July 1860. Albury, population 700, was served by the Border Post (1856–1902). The Albury Banner proved not to be viable under Blackmore, or its next owner, Alfred Banfield.
Printer George Adams acquired the Albury Banner on 26 April 1862, and refocused the paper as a public voice for local selectors. He also established a land agency, co-located with his editorial offices and a solicitor’s office, that helped budding landholders navigate the legal maze—and built up a loyal readership.
In the early days, the Albury Banner catered for the emerging German settler community in the southern Riverina by printing advertisements and some articles in German. To complement the Banner and to potentially develop the north-east Victorian market, Adams acquired the ailing Murray and Hume Times (Wodonga) in 1874, and for a while used it as his mid-week offering. It was absorbed into the Albury Banner in 1880.
Particularly in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Albury Banner wielded considerable political clout, becoming known as the ‘Cockeys’ Bible’. It consolidated its role as a major regional paper in February 1874 when it moved to a weekly 24-page format. The demand for advertising space and news, and a printing plant upgrade in 1882, enabled it to expand to 32 and then 40 pages—making it, by 1886, the largest provincial weekly newspaper in Australia.
Adams tried to emulate Melbourne’s Australasian and Sydney’s Australian Town and Country Journal. He developed a network of local correspondents, ensuring the Albury Banner remained relevant to local communities. By the 1890s, it had a 250 kilometre catchment radius. The Albury Banner regularly carried short fiction and verse, and from 1869 pioneered the serialisation of novels. Most of the novels ran for 34 weeks, but one was dragged out for 66 weeks.
Fully aware of his own strengths as a printer and businessman and his weaknesses as a journalist and editor, Adams hired capable editors, including Henry A. Brooks, W.T. Deverell and Foster A. Cooper, who remained editor (and later co-owner) for 50 years until retiring in 1922.
After Adams’ death, the Banner was managed by Cooper and Adams’ children until April 1940, when it was bought by the Victoria-based Elliott Rural Newspaper Group. Following Elliott’s sudden death in 1950, the newspaper folded on 26 May 1950.
REF: R. Kirkpatrick, Country Conscience (2000).