Port Stephens to Coonamble – Newspapers for the love of community

Rachael Vaughan and Lee O’Connor trade papers outside the Coonamble Times office.
Rachael Vaughan and Lee O’Connor trade papers outside the Coonamble Times office.


THIS week, this News Of The Area reporter turned left and went West, spending time in Coonamble, New South Wales.

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I had the pleasure of meeting with a like-minded reporter, and relatively new editor of the Historical Coonamble times, Lee O’Connor.

Lee recently purchased the Coonamble Times, which has been operating in Coonamble since 1885, 100 years longer than

Myall Coast NOTA.

Lee runs the paper by herself, with only two casual staff, who all do a combination of roles.

Lee remarked that only one of them had prior newspaper experience when she took over the paper, and it wasn’t her.

Like our three News Of The Area publications, the Coonamble times publishes weekly on a Wednesday.

However, whilst our population reach may be similar, the geographical reach of the Coonamble Times is much larger, distributing to a massive country area in comparison, around 20,000 square kilometres.

This area contains six communities ranging in size from a couple of dozen people up to around 3700.

Many of their readers are scattered around on farms, some of them over an hour’s drive away from the nearest newsagent.

Lee told News Of The Area, “Believe it or not, we usually have more news and community happenings than will fit in the paper.”
“We are supported by a local group of business and community advertisers, volunteer contributors and generous photographers, making it a real community effort,” she said.

Coonamble Times operates from a small historic shop front in the main street of Coonamble.

It was a wonderful experience learning about the Coonamble Times, and sharing in our enjoyment of the special part we play within our own respective communities.

Lee said, “I am pleased to report that, from conversations with locals around why they read the Coonamble Times and what they want to see, the ‘care factor’ for this local rag is off the charts.”

“Our stories matter, and I am quickly learning that it takes a whole community to run a newspaper.”

Lee wishes to send a shout out to anyone from the Coonamble area who is now living in the Bay, Medowie or Myall, as they love to keep in touch with anyone who has moved on.

“Love your local paper and it will love you back, it really does help keep your community connected,” Lee said.

By Rachael VAUGHAN

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