As part of the Ararat Advertiser’s 160th anniversary, we are continuing our series of features on the history of Ararat and this newspaper.
AS A MEMBER of one of the families that co-founded the Ararat Advertiser, Tom Banfield was always expected to take on the family business.
He caused an almighty rift with the family when he decided, after five years of writing stories, setting print runs and delivering the finished product, to join the Anglican church as a priest.
After seeing the Ararat Advertiser 160th anniversary edition on sale, Mr Banfield dropped into his old office.
“I was here from 1948 to ‘53. I upset the apple cart because I didn’t want to go on,” he said.
“I was being trained up to be the editor of the paper and I decided it was not for me and became a priest instead.”
Mr Banfield had a rocky apprenticeship at the Ballarat Courier, then owned by a different company.
The newspaper’s managers were under the belief that he had already been trained and sent him off to do ‘street stories’.
He was sent out to hang around the busy parts of Ballarat to report on anything happening or to strike up conversations with sources.
Mr Banfield has been working on his own book on the history of the Ararat Advertiser for years, and he did not know if he will ever finish it.
“It’s my story of working on the paper,” he said.
“I finished up my time working as a reported going to council meetings.
“Every hour somebody would be sent down to pick up your report.”
Mr Banfield said some of his least favourite experiences happened during his reporting on court cases.
“One I remember was when I was sent over to Avoca.
“It was a stinking hot day and somebody was up for stealing sheep.
“Here was the carcass sitting in the courtroom as exhibit A and I tell you the smell was horrible.”
Mr Banfield said that covering meetings for returned servicemen from World War Two was also a health hazard.
“There were 20 or 30 people in a tiny room all constantly smoking,” he said.
“I nearly died.”
Mr Banfield had performed almost every job going at the Ararat Advertiser, often all at once.
“At times I would write the story, set it up on Linotype, print the paper and go off to bed,” he said.
“I’d have to wake up early in the morning as the paperboys hadn’t turned up to deliver the paper.”
After leaving the paper, Mr Banfield joined the seminary and was heavily involved in education and outdoor activities with students, travelling across Victoria before retiring in Ararat.