Our city, your news­pa­per

Trea­sure fail a news gem

Albany Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Toby Hussey

This year we are cel­e­brat­ing 130 years of the Al­bany Ad­ver­tiser. Over com­ing weeks we will look back on the pa­per and re­gion’s his­tory in a spe­cial collectable series.

The Al­bany Ad­ver­tiser‘ s past is 130 years long, but few would guess it’s linked to a failed Pa­cific Ocean trea­sure hunt.

If not for wealthy English­man Lan­cel Vic­tor De Hamel’s 1880s fail­ure to find loot on a Pa­cific is­land, 130 years of Ad­ver­tiser his­tory may not have been re­alised.

Un­de­feated in his fail­ure to find buried riches, the in­trepid sailor landed in Al­bany in 1886, and soon had his eyes firmly set on a sec­ond trea­sure — the town’s may­oral seat.

One hur­dle stood in his way: he had to find an al­ter­na­tive way to reach vot­ers, as the ex­ist­ing pa­pers re­fused to back his elec­tion cam­paign. Fight­ing back, he set up a print­ing works and formed the Aus­tralian Ad­ver­tiser.

It worked, and two months later De Hamel was elected mayor.

The pa­per later be­came the Al­bany Ad­ver­tiser, and pretty soon its jour­nal­ists had built a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing around the re­gion’s big sto­ries.

Pub­lish­ing twice a week, early Ad­ver­tiser jour­nal­ists were there when the first tele­phones were in­stalled, on deck when mi­grants ar­rived chas­ing the in­land gold rush, and curb-side to wit­ness the first cars hit our streets in 1905.

Had De Hamel’s voy­age been a suc­cess, the Ad­ver­tiser may never have been printed. For­tu­nately, he was bet­ter at news­pa­pers than he was at trea­sure hunt­ing.

The Ad­ver­tiser will run a fea­ture each Tues­day over com­ing weeks.

Pic­ture: State Li­brary WA

Al­bany town site from Mt Melville circa 1890.

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