History of the Valley Voice

The Valley and East Coast Voice was established in 1968 and the initial issue was printed from the St Marys Community Health Centre by a small team of very dedicated people, one of whom, Mary Targett, remained involved with the publication until 2014.

The early years of printing was by gestetner and usually done through the night, as everyone had a day job which couldn’t spare them.

Recollections of the birth of the Valley Voice  by Mary Targett

Mary Targett (2)In early 1968 while I was working at the St Marys District Hospital, I was asked by Matron Simpson if I would help out with the typing of a local newspaper that she and her friends, Yvonne Whittaker (Clinic Sister) Geoff & Betty Dean (Sea View) and I think Ada Gerrie and Sandra Young (Nursing Sisters) were embarking on.

On the evening of  May 2, 1968, we gathered in the Children’s Ward of our hospital, (obviously no patients) and proceeded to create our first edition.

The latest technology was used, Gestetner, (copying machine) waxed stencils on which the typing was done, typewriter from the hospital office, and many bottles of  pink correction fluid, which had an aroma about it quite fitting for a hospital.

The ward was abuzz with activity, and lots of laughter, courtesy of the green ginger wine, which was enjoyed by all.  This continued into the wee small hours of the next morning, when finally our first issue was ready for delivery to the outlets.

Some of us managed a few hours sleep, others not so lucky, before heading off to our regular jobs.

Obviously we couldn’t continue from the Children’s Ward so we moved to the Recreation Room of the Nurses Quarters, where the table tennis table was put to good use.

This facility was used for several years, before the move to our present premises.

In conclusion I would like to say we have come a long way thanks to the many volunteers we have had over the past 40 years.

Many thanks to our Editors of recent years: the late Ron Sumner, Audrey Wright and Judy Spilsbury, who have made a huge difference to the quality of our paper.

Happy Birthday!! VALLEY VOICE by Geoffrey Dean (former co-editor)

Geoffrey Dean

When Judy Spilsbury rang me towards the end of October in 2006, and told me that the Valley and East Coast Voice had continued on without break since I and my family had left St Marys back in the early 1970s,  I was gob-smacked.

That night back in 1968, when Dorothy Simpson, Ada Gerie and Sandra Young from the local hospital went up to ‘Seaview’ for dinner with my  family, the possibility of starting up a small local paper was the main topic to be discussed around the dinner table.

Such a paper would be a central point for the comments and news of the district, we thought. We could give it a go – a kind of experiment to see how such a local newsheet would go down with the locals. Our decision fueled with, I remember, some very good wine.

Well, that first run, we optimistically printed four hundred and fifty copies, turned out on my old typewriter and a borrowed Gestetner, most of which were gone by lunchtime the following day.

Our rash experiment had well and truly paid off.   We were stuck, and whether we liked it or not, we were obliged to carry it on until we left the district.

And, I might add, not one of us could have envisaged that 40 years later  ‘that little old rag’ as we used to call it, would still be going.

Congratulations to all those dedicated people who were  involved in it during those years.

EDITORIAL by Judy Spilsbury

When I first thoJudy Spilsburyught of doing a souvenir edition of the Valley Voice for our 40th birthday I never envisaged what a task I would be taking on. To say I had ‘bitten off more than I could chew’, was an understatement. Just finding a starting point was the first headache. So much has happened in the last 40 years, that you don’t know where to start.

I know we have had lots of tragedies and triumphs, but I decided to go with a mostly  lighthearted, pictorial view of life in St Marys.  I have had tremendous support from a lot of people, who have supplied me with photographs, stories, advice, encouragement, and most of all naming all the football photographs. That was, indeed a job in itself, as almost all the photos I have had access to were not named. Consequently, if we have any names wrong, I do apologise.

All the names listed below are of people who have volunteered their time over the forty years to help produce this community paper. It goes without saying that an edition would not be achieved without plenty of help, and to all those listed, and those whom we have missed, thank you.

Sometimes St Marys has struggled to stay afloat, but we have, and I think we are doing very well. We don’t have the increased population and business that has evolved on the coast, but this is still a lovely place to live. This is probably proven by the influx of new residents now living here from all parts of Australia. We must have something going for us.

As always it’s the people who give a township it’s personality, and we have had many characters larger than life,  contributing to all aspects of small town life, and it’s always been said, ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’.

I have tried to cover a variety of events such as sporting achievements, awards, accolades, service clubs etc., but there is no way you can mention everything  in 50 plus pages.

I do hope you enjoy this publication. It was put together with a lot of work, but I gained a lot of pleasure from doing it.

Thank you to all who helped with this special edition and to all the contributors, distributors, advertisers, volunteers and consumers. Without all of you we would not have survived for 40 years, to celebrate this milestone in the Valley Voice’s history.

The very first edition, Vol 1, No 1, was published on May 3, 1968, and is reprinted in this souvenir edition. It had to be realigned to fit the size of today’s paper, as the first few years were produced in foolscap size. Times and technology have changed dramatically in the last few years, and when I print this paper now, I think back to the first years, and how hard it was to type and print on the old Gestetner machines, by cranking a handle for hours on end. Life has certainly changed for the better as far as printing goes, and it is certainly much easier with the computers and printers of today’s quality.

Having said that, it still needs volunteers, and to all those who still help from years ago, and to all the newcomers, thank you very much indeed. You time and services are very much appreciated.


Wendy Bantick, Gary Barnes, Lisa Bean, Sharon Binns, Wendy Brennan, Karen Budge, Margaret Bullock,   Maureen Bushing, Geoff Clarke, Keith Cook, Bob Cook, Julie Cornelius, Judy Costain, Pat Curry, Liz Dean, Elizabeth Dean, Geoff Dean, Jill Faulkner, Dot French, Ada Gerie, Heather Gillies, Kerin Glatte, Janet Godfrey, Barbara Harris, Roberta Harwood, Carmen Iles, Zoe Johns, Heather Lodge, Kath Lohrey, Jos Lynch, Nancy Macleay, Sharlene Mason, Ruth McGiveron, Marj Oliver, Peter Rubenach, Dorothy Simpson, Irene Smith, Judy Spilsbury, Betty Sumner,   Ron Sumner, Mary Targett, Eiko Waller, John Wassens, Kerry Webb, Yvonne Whittaker, Audrey Wright, Sandra Young.


Kyle Bean, Kirk Bean, Tiarna Bean, Alyssa Morris, Jane, Mark and Matthew Spilsbury, Todd & Emma Spilsbury, Hannah ,Jacob & Jackson  Spilsbury, Danielle and Georgia Williams.   (Apologies to any volunteers whose names we have missed.)
Jim HaasIn 1968 the Vietnam War was in full swing, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States, John Gorton was Prime Minister of Australia, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, Saddam Hussein gained power in Iraq, NASA launched the first manned space ship Apollo 7, the Olympics were held in Mexico City, the Fingal Valley was in a state of drought and the Valley Voice was launched in       St Marys.The first  edition came out on the 3rd of May with an Editorial written by Geoff Dean of Seaview Farm, part of which said: “…..The purpose of this paper is to serve our community.  We believe there is a necessity for a local news reporting and comment medium in this district.   Mainly it is intended to be a communication between what is happening and what should be happening in this valley.  It is to be a liaison between those who do and those who want to know. The aim is to be factual in news reporting, critical in outlook and constructive in suggestion.“At times it will be difficult not to be unbiased and if this human error creeps in, we will welcome you, the reader’s, opinion.   To be successful it will need public acceptance and sympathy for its birth pains….”On page three we learned that Miss Teena Quest entrant, Patsy Targett, was holding a concert in Royle’s Theatre (Todds Hall).   Performers will include John Laing, winner of Brian & the Juniors Talent Quest, Danny and Dudley Madden and some fine local talent, which includes a hilarious, locally made, short film.

The back page of the newly launched paper told how the St Marys Football Team was enjoying a good year at the top of the FDFA ladder with a young side of only an average age of 21.  Players doing well were: Ron McCarty, Chester Bullock, Terry Haas, Keith Mason, Don Birrell, Trevor Viney, Tony Cook, and Ashley Stone at fullback is drop kicking the ball a country mile.

St Marys and indeed the greater Break O’Day Community should truly thank Geoff Dean and his small band of helpers, all of whom gave up their time and showed immense initiative to put a paper together that had the quality to grab the interest of the people and grow from strength to strength to fulfill the dreams of the paper’s pioneers.

Whilst Geoff moved on to bigger literacy achievements with his writing of several books, the Valley Voice has continued on with a strong group of dedicated volunteers, some of whom like Mary Targett, Audrey Wright and Judy Spilsbury have been there from the beginning and still work tirelessly to ensure the paper hits the stands every second Thursday.

But the paper is nothing without the community; the business people who advertise, the community groups who tell us what’s happening and of cause the general public who send in their articles and photos, all of which gives the paper variety and interest.   Letters to the Editor is a place where people can express their views and opinions and whilst this can sometimes create confrontation, it is important the views of the community are brought out in the open and aired to enable us to move on.

Going on 40 years is a wonderful achievement for a community paper and while other towns in our area have produced papers that have come and gone, the Voice has stood the test of time.  Now it is bigger and better than ever and with the diverse range of people with a variety of talents second to none living in the  Break O’Day Plains, the sky’s the limit for our local rag.

In the first edition of Valley Voice a letter to the editor was written by well respected local identity and business woman Ruth Gill. Part of it read; “…..My congratulations on your first edition of Valley Voice.  May it prosper and give the citizens of this Valley a chance to  express their hopes and opinions on what can be done in this very  much neglected area…..”

Ruth, God rest your soul, the paper has prospered, it is still giving citizens a chance to have their say and one could argue that the area is not quite as neglected as it was in 1968.

The above articles are reproduced from the Souvenir  Edition in May 2007.

In 19??  the Valley Voice moved to the top floor of the building on  Main Street St Marys where it remained until mid 2013.

In 2013, Wendy Dawson from Cornwall took over as editor when Judy Spilsbury, who had run it single-handed for over eight years, retired.  Judy remains a source of knowledge and continues her involvement with the Valley Voice through proof-reading and her granddaughter who delivers to the business houses in St Marys.

In March 2013 the Valley Voice equipment and office  was relocated to 12 Groom Street St Marys, when the owner of the Main Street property deemed it no longer suitable for public access and use. This move ended an iconic association of the newsletter and the small upstairs rooms overlooking the Town Hall and Main Street.

The former premises on Main Street housed all the operating / archival history of the Valley Voice.  The bulk of the operating machinery has been housed and displayed in Ian Summers’ Cranks & Tinkerers Museum, located in the Railway Station St Marys. Ian is a veritable font of knowledge and time flies in his company. The ladies who compile each edition of the Valley Voice have stayed with it and thanks must go to the following: Jill Faulkner, Heather Lodge, Wendy Brennan, Sonya Allison, Irene Smith and Keri Whik.  Without these people the paper wouldn’t happen. Thanks also to Erin and Jackson, the current delivery people, and to all the young St Marys residents who have delivered the Valley Voice in the past.

The hard copy archival material went to the St Marys Historical Society for digital processing.

Online archives date from and including 2007. More copies are added as available.

Serving the East Coast and Fingal Valley areas since 1968