There’s a nice irony that in Tumut, in the heartlands of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, Luke Watson is still waiting for a power supply sufficient to run the whole of his newly-extended press.
A Tensor tower is the latest in a succession of additions to the three-unit Goss Community installed in the 1970s – the last having been a Goss UOP tricolour unit in 2004, when CTP was also introduced.
Five years later, prime minister Kevin Rudd made Australian taxpayers an offer they couldn’t refuse, and managing editor Luke Watson says he jumped at the opportunity of the business incentive tax break to invest further in the pressline.
The 1400 Series tower was supplied by agent National Printing Equipment, and installed over the Christmas break under the supervision of Bob Bradford. The ‘Tumut & Adelong Times’ and ‘Gundegai Independent’ are biweeklies, and the company also publishes the weekly ‘Tumbaramba Times’.
Products vary between 24-32 pages tabloid for the 3500-copy Tumut edition, with runs of 1500 each for the others.
One of the smallest newspaper businesses in NSW, the ‘Times’ – which has origins in the 1870s gold rush – has been owned by Watson’s family for the past 110 years.
“My great grandfather, Alexander Wilkie Watson, established the ‘Adelong and Tumut Express’ in 1900 at Adelong,” he says. “They moved to Tumut in 1903 in opposition to the earlier-established ‘Tumut and Adelong Times’ and ‘Adelong Argus’ and the papers merged in 1925 as the ‘Tumut and Adelong Times’ under the Wilkie Watson banner. My family has been producing and printing the newspaper in Tumut ever since.”
A staff of 15 includes three in a printing department where equipment also includes a four-colour Heidelberg sheetfed press and finishing.
“When there’s an edition to print, we all pitch in and help,” says the fourth-generation proprietor, finding an opportunity to talk between press runs. Now we’ve got the colour capacity, we might do some contract work as well.”
Fourth generation: Luke Watson with ‘Tumut and Adelong Times’ journalist Alissa Jenkins