Sunraysia Daily has a proud history serving the Sunraysia region since it was first published on October 15, 1920.
The first newspaper to be published in Sunraysia was the Mildura Irrigationist on February 8, 1888 but only lasted three months, ending on May 23, 1888.
At that time the survival of a pioneering settlement, especially one as remote as Mildura, was dependent on a variety of factors. One of the most vital being an effective newspaper to keep people informed.
The Mildura Cultivator commenced publication as a weekly newspaper on May 19, 1888, initially on a Saturday then, after seven issues, the publication was changed to a Thursday. During the next few years the paper reverted back to Saturday issues and in 1907 an additional Wednesday issue was introduced. Fourteen men were employed to produce the weekly paper with two correspondents sending copy from Melbourne. The paper was not only a carrier of local and national news but also incorporated a large percentage of horticultural information and advice.
During this time the Mildura Irrigationist reappeared between June 6, 1891 to June 24, 1893 and July 1, 1893 to December 23, 1893. On January 5, 1895 it was resurrected as the Mildura Irrigationist and Murray River Cultural Advocate and published until June 6, 1898.
Competition developed for the Cultivator in 1910 when a Mr Henry Alfred Furze established the Mildura Telegraph and later established the Merbein Irrigationist with a Mr J.W. Marrows of Merbein as correspondent.
In 1912 a new brick office was built at what is now 22 Deakin Avenue for The Cultivator, which is still the home of Sunraysia Daily today. The first issue of The Cultivator was published from these premises on April 3, 1912.
On October 1, 1920 The Mildura Cultivator together with the Mildura Telegraph and the Merbein Irrigationist were bought out by Clement De Garis, a young publicity agent, who had a vision of a daily newspaper in the district.
At this time De Garis had organised an Australian wide competition for the Australian Dried Fruits Association to find the best name for the dried fruits grown in the region. The winning entry “Sun-raysed” was altered to “Sunraysia” to describe the area from where the fruit came and he used the new word for the first time on the first issue of Sunraysia Daily on October 16, 1920. It was the first time a daily newspaper had been published to serve such a small population.
Several years after the paper began De Garis ran into financial problems and in May 1923, Sunraysia Daily was placed in the hands of a Melbourne firm of financiers.
Sunraysia Daily continued to be published until it was bought out, in 1924, by a company consisting of Mr Percy Stewart MP, Dr (later Sir) Earl Page and Mr R. D. Elliott, later to become a senator.
The new Sunraysia Daily Pty Ltd was formed in December, 1924 and the paper was on sound financial footing for the first time.
Mr Elliott eventually bought out his two partners and formed the Elliott Provincial Newspaper Group (EPNG). The period between 1924 and 1939 was one of healthy growth for the group with the acquisition of other regional newspapers.
Influential in the expansion of the EPNG was C.D. Lanyon, then company secretary, who started with the business in 1920 as assistant accountant. Mr Lanyon was appointed manager of Sunraysia Daily in 1939 when George Baxter, the previous manager, was transferred to Albury.
Following R.D. Elliott’s death in 1950, Mr Lanyon secured a controlling interest in the company and became managing director of the group. The group bought further interests in regional newspapers, at this time
dropping the word “provincial” from its name and becoming Elliott Newspaper Group.
For many years Sunraysia Daily was printed letterpress on various flat-bed and rotary presses. In the early 1960’s a later model Cossar press was introduced. A major change in 1979 saw a six-unit Goss Community offset press installed, printing copies at a rate of 14,000 an hour.
The 1990’s saw the introduction of computerised publishing, which is used today, replacing the hard copy labor intensive mechanical methods of previous years. In recent years digital publishing technology has been introduced.
In early 2006 Sunraysia Daily undertook a major upgrade to its printing presses and building at 22 Deakin Avenue to help cater for the increased use of full colour in the printing process.
A further significant change occurred to Sunraysia Daily on Saturday, September 15, 2007 when it was transformed to a tabloid size newspaper following 87 years as a broadsheet publication.
In September 2008 Sunraysia Daily was recognised for its excellence in newspaper publishing by being awarded the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association (PANPA) Newspaper of the Year for regional dailies up to 20,000 circulation.
Today the group publishes newspapers in Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Cohuna, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Morwell, Traralgon and Sale.
Sunraysia Daily is the region’s largest paid circulating daily newspaper and has a readership of more than 24,000 people each Monday to Friday and over 35,000 people each Saturday.
Sunraysia Daily is still published at 22 Deakin Avenue, Mildura and is distributed throughout the Sunraysia region including the major centres of Merbein, Irymple, Red Cliffs, Robinvale and Ouyen in Victoria, and Buronga, Gol Gol, Euston, Dareton and Wentworth in New South Wales.
Sunraysia Daily is locally owned and today employs over 60 full-time, part-time and casual staff who are responsible for publishing each issue. Sunraysia Daily takes pride in being a strong supporter of local charitable organisations and other community orientated activities.
In the 21st century Sunraysia Daily faces electronic media competition unknown at its birth in 1920 along with a rapidly changing marketplace and social way of life. Sunraysia Daily will continue to provide local people with local news and report on community happenings on life in our region.
The founder of the Elliott Newspaper Group, R.D. Elliott, who became a partner in Sunraysia Daily in the early 1920's, was later to become a Senator for Victoria in the Federal Parliament.
Mr. C.D. Lanyon, who began work in the year Sunraysia Daily was founded in 1920 and later took control of the Elliott Newspaper Group.