Fremantle Journal - Issue 1 - 1830

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The front page of the only known extant issue

The Fremantle Journal and General Advertiser was the first newspaper published in Western Australia. It was edited and published by James A. Gardner, with the first issues appearing less than a year after the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829. As there was not yet a printing press in the colony, each issue was handwritten. Only a single copy of a single issue survives. Held by the Battye Library in Perth, Western Australia, it is copy number 5 of the first issue, that of 27 February 1830. It consists of a single sheet, printed on both sides and folded in half, thus yielding four pages; it sold for one shilling and sixpence. It is not known when publication ceased, except that it had certainly concluded by the time Gardner left the colony in September that year.

In addition, three issues survive of a manuscript newspaper published by Gardner under the title Western Australia Gazette and General Advertiser. It is unknown whether this is a different newspaper or the same newspaper under a new name. The three extant issues are held by the State Library of New South Wales, and are dated 4 April 1830, 1 June 1830 and 13 June 1830. They are larger, and sold for three shillings and sixpence.

The publication of the Fremantle Journal and General Advertiser was widely recognised as an important, albeit modest, step in the progress of the colony. The Sydney Gazette published a number of extracts from it, prefacing them with the comment

"It is interesting to witness the first dawn of literature upon yonder savage shores, and, though faint and feeble, we trust it will continue to brighten and to spread, until the light of science and morals be diffused over the whole surface of Western Australia.

It was even noticed by The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, a London anthology.

Note:  This document was transcribed by our Projects  Officer Graham Bown