September 17th, 2023Kyle’s Rant
For those of you that have heard the story of The Local’s birth, you may find this read interesting as it is amazing how fact changes to fantasy with 10 years’ history and perhaps a little embellishment under the belt.
I was a lot younger 10 years ago and light lines on my face have since turned to deep lines. I was working as a mild-mannered photographer on The Advocate. It was a truly frustrating position, any photos I presented would run as postage stamp size except for the new roundabout between Dean and Ballarat that got a half page. No people, no traffic, just a stupid concrete roundabout. No kidding.
Donna and I both saw the writing on the wall for that paper although it took a pandemic to put the final nail in the coffin. So, we went for it. I cashed a $250 cheque which I had earned doing a private photography job and we were off. The first edition arrived as digital print, 500 copies servicing the strip between Hepburn and Daylesford and promising to be monthly. There was all of a sudden blood on the streets with locals running from basket to basket, some waving them in their hands, “I have my copy,” one local shouted to me. The same day we decided to go fortnightly, and it was on. Obviously we did everything in those days and I remember being shattered after a production week and opening the boot to the car at the Daylesford Post Office where people were just helping themselves to copies, like seagulls on a bag of chips.
The journey has been long and short at the same time. We have met many folks and had the privilege to be able to record locals’ achievements, accolades and grievances.
An outstanding memory I have is an effort to punk The Advocate. I borrowed a life-sized black panther from Mark at The Mill Markets and set up a Facebook page in the name of a fictitious woman called Thel Ocal (a photo of Donna with a wig), and had her travelling around the world on her page with pictures of family and scenes from around the globe. The last photo was at the Lyonville Mineral Springs. It was designed as a selfie with the panther discreetly tucked into the back of the photo looking into an opened esky. Thel had discovered the shot on her return from her travels and was going to contact The Advocate via Facebook to ask what sort of animal was in the background of the shot.
The punk was three months in the making and finally the scene was set. I knew that the staff would be light on because it was Easter so I sprung the trap and the photo came across the desk of the eagle-eyed chief of staff at the Ballarat Courier.
Unfortunately the only person left on that team who had worked in the newsroom with Donna some years back quickly worked out it was, in fact, Donna. The farce was instantly over, the game was up and the horse had bolted. I quickly shut down the FB page and Thel’s email account.
The bright side of this yarn was that I had taken a couple of extra prank panther photos and instead of cutting my losses we ran them in the paper. And they gained a huge response from locals. We were sent photos of sightings, did interviews on farms, were shown casts of panther footprints and even touched some alleged panther fur.
There have been countless other memories and the road is littered with uncertainties and growing pains, but by and large it has been pretty smooth travelling. We have been distributed shire-wide for a lot of years now and have covered some eye-rolling yarns including Geesegate, Rexgate and a bit of rubbish, rates and roadsgate. The team who have joined us through the years have largely stuck with us, and there are not many folks I have met during the last few years who I wouldn’t crack a beer with. Happy 10 years rant over…