Buried under torn tarps in an abandoned newspaper house in the Great Southern, one of WA’s oldest family-run newspapers is being brought back to life nearly 20 years after the last edition rolled off the press.
The Shire of Gnowangerup is cranking up the old printing equipment at the Gnowangerup Star, with plans to get an annual edition of the paper up and running using the historic presses.
The Shire bought the rights to the paper in 2017 and has been working alongside volunteers to get the damaged building and printers refurbished to working condition.
Established in 1915 by Augustine Walker, the proudly family-run paper, originally called the Gnowangerup Star and Tambellup Ongerup Gazette, had a circulation of about 1000 people in the shires of Gnowangerup and Jerramungup.
Augustine’s son, Isaac Walker, took over the paper and ran it with his wife, Margaret, and their two sons, Bill and Roderick.
Mr Walker had a stroke in 1986, so Margaret continued running the paper until it closed in 2003 due to budget struggles and a declining population.
When the Shire of Gnowangerup made the jump to secure ownership, they walked into a building with no ceiling and an interior full of cobwebs, damp areas, and rust damaged printing presses.
Shire chief executive Bob Jarvis took steps over the next couple of years to research how the historic newspaper house could be turned into a museum.
A substantial amount of voluntary work was put in to clean out the premises and get its equipment back in use. Two printing presses — a 1960 electric Heidelberg press and a decades-old manual Plano press — were restored to working condition last month and were printing pamphlets off the back of the hard work of printer Keith Schekkerman.
The next step is to get one of the three original linotype hot lead printing presses working.
On top of this, Shire staff with the help of Iva Stejskal intend to preserve and archive every original edition of the Gnowangerup Star.