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First Sunday newspaper Down Under

A veteran journalist who was a copy boy on The Press (Christchurch) before World War II believes he has discovered the name of the first Sunday newspaper ever published in Australia or New Zealand.

It was called The Bee of Australia, printed in Sydney in 1844. The four-page broadsheet was published "every Saturday Afternoon by 4 o'clock, at the Printing Office, No. 17 Colonnade, Bridge-street," and charged subscribers seven shillings and six pence a quarter.

The Bee's motto, printed on the masthead, reads:

The "Bee" still gathers sweets where flowerlets spring;
but knaves and fools beware - our bee can sting.

The former Christchurch journalist, Eric Shackle, moved to Australia in 1937, to work on various newspapers in Brisbane and Sydney. Now 87, and living near Sydney, he has written about The Bee in the June edition of his website, Life Begins at 80... on the Internet, subtitled The World's First Multi-National e-Book

"Sadly, the Bee deserted its hive before Christmas of the year it was launched, abruptly going out of business after publishing only eight issues.," he said today. "Subscribers who had paid in advance for 13 issues must have felt they'd been stung."

Fortunately for us, we can now read every word of every issue of The Bee on the internet. It would take hours to peruse all 32 pages, but even a brief visit gives a wonderful insight into everyday life in the young colony of New South Wales.


Eric Shackle is a retired journalist whose hobby is searching the Internet and writing about it. He is author of The World's First Multi-National e-Book, His work has been published by the New York Times (US), The Observer (UK), Globe and Mail (Canada), Straits Times (Singapore) and Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). He writes a regular column for senior citizen webzines in US, Canada, UK, South Africa and Australia, and is copy editor of Anu Garg's Seattle-based A Word A Day free newsletter, which is e-mailed five days a week to more than 600,000 wordlovers in 200 countries.

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