|'Echo phrases' are, according to OZWORDS a publication from The Australian National Dictionary Centre, phrases or two or more words where the second part of the phrase echoes the first, e.g. bee's knees, namby pamby, itsy bitsy, ant's pants, etc. However for the Newstead community, 'Echo phrases' have a whole different meaning.
Since the 19th century, phrases, words, sentences and images informed the local community through The Echo, Newstead's very own newspaper/newsletter. Like newspapers in all communities, The Echo has been 'the metaphorical glue' which binds the community, providing news, information, opinion and, in its first incarnation, stories tantamount to gossip.
The first edition of The Echo, in the parlance of the industry, 'hit the streets' on Saturday August 22, 1896. The editor of the day, the idiosyncratic Mr. Dower, opined that The Echo was being published, "...for many reasons the chief amongst which being that in the past a great deal of money has been paid out of the district by the Shire Council and others for printing and advertising, not one penny of which has ever returned to the district". He also noted that, "The district is almost unknown outside its own boundaries, and is only spoken of as being "somewhere in the interior of Victoria". We don't say that matters in this regard will be greatly changed for the better by the advent of The Echo, but if it does not occur it will not be our fault".
Mr. Dower also wrote that, "Mining will be our chief forte', and weekly our reporter will be sent to Sandy Creek, Yandoit and other places where mining is being carried on with a view of collecting latest information relative to an industry that according to present indications, will be the chief one in this part of Victoria".
On February 13, 1968, the demise of The Echo after 72 years came with the publication of its final edition, an event precipitated by the illness of the proprietor, Mr. 'Mac' Hurse. The paper reported the regret expressed by Newstead citizens at its closure, who praised its service in the interest of a rural district.
The Echo's closure was greatly lamented by district residents who hankered for local news. To address the situation, the town's postmaster, Mr. GW Beeforth was instrumental in creating its replacement, The Newstead News. This was a short-lived paper, which lasted from October 2, 1968 until December 22, 1971 when it amalgamated with the Maldon Times to form The Tarrangower Times.
In April 1978, 10 years after the closure of The Echo, the Shire of Newstead adopted the name The Newstead Echo as the masthead of its new monthly community newsletter and in doing so, honoured the role of its predecessor.
In the first edition, the council reported that documents transferring council land in Panmure Street to the Housing Commission for the construction of Elderly Person Low Rental Accommodation were finalised.
Council also noted that, "...a study of Newstead's street trees had been conducted to determine the best method of preserving their beauty and ensuring maximum life span. The presence of Elm Bark beetle in Newstead was noted, necessitating the removal of some trees".
The editorial of Issue No 197, January 1995, the final edition of the council-generated Echo, advocated for residents to lobby commissioners for a similar information service. Government policies were in play, the Shire of Newstead was no more and council amalgamation was a fait accompli.
Defiantly the council invited community members to the Australia Day celebration, "...to mark its demise...this would take place regardless of the amalgamation taking place prior to Australia Day".
The current Newstead Echo now celebrating its 10th anniversary began when the first monthly edition of the community newsletter was published in August 1995. The re-emergence of The Echo followed representations to the commissioners of the newly amalgamated Mt Alexander Shire. They approved funding for typing and duplication, and appointed a committee of Rob McNabb, Suzan Redlande, Ruth Barkla, Margaret Lewis and Peter Skilbeck to coordinate its publication.
The Echo, in news of the day, noted that work on the Newstead hall was almost complete with its first function being a CFA- sponsored dance, and described the hall as, "...A magnificent new facility that will serve the region for many years to come". The Garden Club advised of their garden-in-a-wheelbarrow competition, and enthusiastically praised the return of The Echo.