The Victorian Weekly Times is Australia’s biggest-selling rural newspaper. When launched in September 1869 as the weekly companion to Melbourne’s Daily Telegraph (1869–92), its founders declared it would be a ‘journal of literature, sport, agriculture, science and politics’.
In 1892, the papers were sold to the operators of Melbourne’s afternoon newspaper, the Herald, providing the basis for the Herald and Weekly Times, now a subsidiary of News Corp Australia.
The Weekly Times circulates primarily in Victoria’s rural and regional areas, although sales in Melbourne remain high. Peak sales in the late 1960s reached nearly 120,000. For much of its first century, the paper carried world and general news alongside coverage of regional and agricultural matters. It devoted five pages to the capture of the Kelly Gang in 1880, and one to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. It published pictures from country shows and school sports days, and news about regional development. Such authors as C.J. Dennis, Miles Franklin, Sumner Locke Elliott and Patsy Adam-Smith have graced its pages.
In 1966 the paper took classified advertising from the front page and shifted its editorial focus to exclusively cover rural and regional news. Its personality comes from a unique collection of long-running columns reflecting rural life, its distinctive salmon-coloured cover and the magpie that sits on its masthead.
The advice columns are so thorough that, since 1933, they have been republished in a multi-edition bestseller, The Weekly Times’ Farmers Handbook.
REF: H. Jones, The Bible of the Bush (1994).