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Bible of the bush turns 100

In January 1911, the first issue of The Land rolled off the press in Sydney as a 16-page broadsheet.

Today that paper turns 100, having developed a reputation as “the bible of the bush”.

Former editor, Vernon Graham, said The Land’s founders had set out to create a newspaper with the clout and influence to ensure the voice of farmers couldn’t be drowned out by city-based politicians, lobbyists and business leaders, seeking to place their own interests above agriculture and country people.

Delegates to the 1910 annual conference of the Farmers and Settlers Association (FSA) – a forerunner to the NSW Farmers Association – had voted for the creation of the paper after a falling out with the publishers of the existing FSA mouthpiece, Farmer and Settler.

The Land would now be the FSA’s offical voice – a paper, the founders said, that would “belong to the country and exist to reflect country opinions”.

They had a clear vision, even then, of its content.

“Our duty is to help by keeping you, as practical men, in touch with the latest work – proven work – of the best brains in the agricultural world, and by keeping you in touch with one another.”

The founders stressed it was not “a man in the office down in Sydney” trying to show readers how to run their farm but promised that: “if we come across a thing that looks good, if here and there we have ‘picked up a wrinkle’ that might be handy to you – well we will pass it on too”.

The Land today published its 4579th issue – an issue which includes a 100-page liftout celebrating a century of stories from the bush.

“This liftout is a way of saying thank you to our readers, honouring past and present farmers and taking a look at some of the people who helped shape this wonderful newspaper,” said The Land’s publisher, John Dwyer.

Mr Dwyer said today’s centenary issue marked the start of an exciting 12 months for the paper.

Highlights will include a centenary dinner for 1000 guests, a $100,000 reader competition, and two $15,000 scholarships for young NSW rural doctors.

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