Friday, December 19, 2008



Garrick ("Gazza" to his mates) Meadows reckons he's one of a dying breed in Australia. "We're working ourselves to death," he grinned, as he sat rolling himself a smoke in the Victorian Mallee town of Boort. Garry, as he prefers to be known, is the editor, reporter, photographer, printer and publisher as well as the distributor of The Boort and Quambatook Standard-Times.

He is "The Country Editor," the subject of a 27-min-ute Film Australia documentary. The documentary is one of a series titled "Aspects of Australia," being made by Film Australia — whose aim it is to "record and interpret the changing face of Australia." Although he does not see himself as a serious threat to Robert Bedford, Garry, 40, got the feel of what it's like to be a celebrity when "The Country Editor" recently had its world premiere in Boort, north-west of Bendigo. Half of the town's 850 inhabitants turned out for the show, which followed a civic reception given by the Shire of Gordon and a buffet dinner prepared for the occasion by members of the Boort Hospital Auxiliary, Garry, wearing a new brown suit that arrived, luckily, the day before the celebrations, said "I'm not used to being in the limelight" and retreated behind his camera to cover the event for his own newspaper.

The weekly Boort and Quambatook Standard-Times is the axis of his life. It's been that way sintie he was a boy, apprenticed to the previous editor — his father, Lawrie Meadows. Mr Meadows senior bought the paper in 1939 and when he went to war his wife, Nell, ran it. A few years ago, Lawrie and Nell retired and Garry took over the job that now keeps him working more than 80 hours a week. His one regret is that he doesn't have more time to spend with his family: wife, Jean, and their children, Rodney, 19, Maree, 17, and David, 15. "There are about 95 organizations in the town and I try {o cover all their meetings because I think they are important," Garry said. "But this means I hardly ever have a night at home." Jean, who does the books and mail for the newspaper, also works the weekend nightshifts at the local hospital. A qualified nurse, she met Garry when he was hospitalized with appendicitis. They were married in 1960. "I always worried I'd left on the shelf," Garry said. "Right from the start, I had the idea I wanted to get married early and have children while I was young." The Meadows eldest son, Rodney, is now apprenticed to his father in the family business. "We get on pretty we-W,." Garry laughed. "We don't have many rows." The Boort and Quambatook Standard-Times has won seven country newspaper awards. Garry has built its circulation to 1220, due in part, he says, to "people moving away but continuing to get the paper so they know what's going on at home."

According to the producers of "The Country Editor," Garry is "a natural philosopher, without whom the town would die a little." Residents agree — although they don't always see eye-to-eye with his editorials. He called for education to show children that "alcohol has its place," but that there are "ways of enjoying a glass without a person harming himself or his neighbours." Notably absent from the paper are reports of court proceedings. "I never use court cases. I don't deal in misery," Garry said. Garry, who describes himself as " unpaid public relations officer" for Boort, was born in nearby Quambatook. The family moved to Boort when he was a baby. "I've come a long way," he says with a grin. Garry has had no formal training as a journalist or photographer. He doesn't use a typewriter because when he returns to the office from covering a story, he simply sits down at the linotype machine with his notebook full of "Meadows' shorthand" and sets the report immediately into lead. He doesn't even bother with notes for his editorials; they go straight on to the linotype. "I know what I want to say!" he said.

Garry believes that to be accepted in a small town, "you've got to be involved." He is a life member of Apex, a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade, an active member of the Sailing Club, and has been a force — and voice — in about 15 other clubs, committees and projects. When he was originally approached with the Film Australia idea, his reaction was "if it's good for Boort, I'll be in it." If there -comes a time when the country editors vanish from Australia, Garrick Meadows and Boort will remain as filmed reminders of the way they were. - LANA WELLS

Country Editor 1

Country Editor 2

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