The following articles appeared in the August 2005 edition, on
the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the "modern" Echo.

ECHO, ECHO, ECHO!!!     Gordon Dowell
'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, " 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.

The physical home of the original Echo - the office and printing press, survives today in all its glory, as a working exhibit at Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement Museum, formerly known as the Swan Hill Folk Museum. It is acknowledged as the sole surviving intact remnant of central Victoria's gold fields printing trade.

During the 1960s, communities across Australia became increasing aware of the need to preserve and conserve their cultural and material heritage. Historical societies formed, local museums established and collecting of historical artifacts began in earnest. In addition, heritage as a major tourism attraction gained greater credence and creative heritage-based projects were developed. The Swan Hill community was at the vanguard of this movement in Victoria and established its museum in 1963. Personnel from the folk museum scoured the countryside searching for authentic heritage artifacts and buildings to build on to and complete its collection. Heritage now had a commercial value!

Following its closure, The Echo office, including its extant printing press was serendipitously acquired by the Swan Hill Folk Museum and transferred by road in 1968 to its current location.

The office has operated continually on site after it was re-commissioned at the museum in 1968, producing admission tickets, stationary, raffle tickets, docket books, business cards, as well as its famous 'Wanted Posters'.

Barry Warden operated the office as the first employed printer. David Toffull, who began his apprenticeship there in 1984, succeeded him on his retirement in 1993.

Modern technology has affected the viability of The Echo Printing Office as a commercial operation, however volunteers still man the office producing the 'Wanted Posters' on the original Chandler & Price treadle platen press with hand set type.     

The site of The Echo office in Newstead was on the corner of Lyon & Hillier Streets, adjacent to Ross & Lyn Barker's Butcher's Shop. Its original address was to be known as No 1 Franzi's Terrace, acknowledging Mr. Franzi, the owner and builder of the premises.

The paper in its Saturday 11th 1898 edition reported, "...As we celebrated the opening of our new office last night, and as it was our editor's birthday, we trust our readers will excuse whatever shortcomings may be apparent in this issue". Previously the paper had been located in a building near the railway station.

"THE ECHO" PRINTING OFFICE     Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement Museum
Newspapers played a vital role in bringing information to the people of the inland. There were few other forms of communication.

The newspaper was the focal point for all local news - the only medium available. The "Echo" Newspaper and Printing Office comes from Newstead near Castlemaine. The office is still fully functional with work done on many of the original presses, including the Chandler & Price treadle platen press.

The back room of the iron house next door is papered with newspapers that were originally printed in this office!

The Newstead Echo     Peter Tangey
Looks can be deceiving and I am sure many readers would claim disbelief that such a young person (?) can remember the 'old Echo'.

The smell of molten metal amongst the inky mayhem with Bobby Baxter sitting on the rickety stool putting 'shiny' blocks of things with back to front writing into rectangular boxes. The printers grind, clunk and the paper is perused discussed and then eventually finishes in the outside loo or lights the copper or on someone's rabbit traps.

Editor 'Mac Hurse' roars past. Always in the houndstooth coat with leather elbow patches - a romantic figure. Always in the slightly battered, open topped jeep. A man on a mission. Where too? Perhaps the Newstead Court, or the Newstead Cattle sales. The Loddon flats were legendary for the fattest, biggest bullocks and the court report was as compulsory for some as 'Big Brother' is for others.

Memories of 'Mac' echo as strongly as today's 'Echo'. My tangible link from childhood to middle age.

I sit and wonder what 'Mac Hurse' would think of 'Apple Macs'. The means are different but the results are the same.

He would be proud of a community, talking, sharing, working together and continuing the tradition of Newstead as our home.

May the presses roll on, as new generations of 'Bobbies' and 'Macs' serve our community.

The Newstead Echo     Gail Leech
The Newstead Echo
Through my eyes
Have articles abound
Support through hard times,
grateful friends.
The Echo's always sound.

The public, through the years,
With troubles they're forewarned.
Families with small children,
The Echo keeps informed.

The families leave,
Then back they come,
with Newstead in their views,
Then step by step, in every way
The echo has the News.

Newstead's central to the cities,
The shopping's always fine.
The RTC, and Library,
The sports, the Arts and wine.

Reporting major dramas,
And small dilemmas too.
With work and play, everyday,
The Echo is for you.