by Kevin Elsley
While speaking recently with a former Northern Star journalist about news reporting when I was
with the paper in the 60s and early 70s, he was so fascinated that he suggested I should put my
experiences in print and maybe someone out there would find it just as interesting as he did, so here
It was December 1956 when my journalistic career was launched with The Northenn Star, in the age
of typewriters but no mobile phones, faxes and computers – just a telephone, a notebook and a biro
as weapons of trade.
Face to-face reporting was the way to go, which I am reminded about these days in retirement when
walking through the streets of Lismore and passing ‘haunts’ that I and my peers frequented to eke
out a story. The buildings are still there but what they are used for now is a far cry from way back
Take Molesworth Street for example – the old Public Works building where I reported many a
meeting of the Board of Tick Control and interviewed Department of Agriculture research and
extension officers, and another building further down the street where we reported the goings on of
the Far North Coast (weeds) County Council and Rous (water) County Council.
On the other side of the street is the Lismore Municipal building, once headquarters of the Lismore
City Council and where we covered not only council meetings of the council but also the council’s
works committee and the health and building committee.
The old Lismore Post Office rekindles memories. As a cadet reporter one of my duties on the beat
was to call around the back to the telegraph office to get each day’s weather report (the maximum
and minimum temperatures and any rainfall recordings).
In Magellan Street there still stands buildings that used to be the offices of the Gundurimba Shire
and Terania Shire Councils, now amalgamated with Lismore Council and where I had my turn
reporting their monthly meetings.
Keen Street also brings back memories of reporting days, especially where the old Lismore
ambulance station stood on the corner of Keen and Conway Streets. The ambulance committee
meetings held there were open to the Press and were regularly reported.
And tucked away in Carrington Street in what used to be the Lismore office of the Northern Rivers
County Council (the region’s power authority) was the office of the Richmond River Flood
Mitigation County Council, its meetings also on our reporting list.
Sometimes I drew the short straw to attend the Friday night greyhound races where they are still
held but on a different night these days. We would type up the results of each race as it was held and
get back to the office in time to have the details in Saturday’s paper. The office then was in the big
white building opposite the Browns Creek car park, shared with 2LM.
Further afield, meetings of the Byron Shire Council, Mullumbimby Council (now part of Byron)
and Woodburn Council (now part of Lismore and Richmond River council areas) should be
mentioned, plus district surf carnivals.
If not covering a day assignment, my normal shift would be 2.30 to 11.00PM, starting with ’rounds’;
which meant taking to the street to seek out a story, and concluding with a late night ring around of
the local and district police and ambulance stations for any last minute news.
Agricultural shows were (and still are) important events, their coverage going to the extent of typing
up everything that was judged – the jams, jellies, arts and crafts, cooking, sewing, flowers and
vegetables sections as well as all the horse events and livestock judging, even the results of the
The things we did back then!
About the Author:
Kevin Elsley – A resident of the Richmond Valley all my life and a permanent resident of Lismore since 1962 when I
married, built a house and still live in it with my wife.
Retired from journalism in 2006 after 49 years and a few months; worked for two newspaper
companies in that time and Lismore was my base all that time except for an 18 months stint in Sydney.
A Salvationist with the Lismore Salvation Army, involved in the Red Shield Appeal and a volunteer
with the local Salvo emergency services team that provides meals for fire and flood workers/evacuees.