The Westender turns 30 this month, and founder and publisher, Kerrod Trott, takes us back to the heady days of October 1992 when the Westender dared to challenge the Murdocracy with a vision for hyperlocal news.

Brisbane, 1992

It was thirty years ago.

In City Hall, Jim Soorley was Lord Mayor. Over in George Street Wayne Goss was Premier of Queensland, and in Canberra Paul Keating was Prime Minister.

Brisbane was still basking in the success of Expo 88, and the liberalisation of licensing laws that resulted. The population was growing rapidly, largely as a result of interstate migration attracted by comparatively low housing prices and taxation.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd dominated the Brisbane newspaper scene, enjoying a vertical monopoly that included the national paper The Australian, the Brisbane Courier Mail/Sunday Mail and a stable of local papers in the Quest Community Newspapers group.

And in West End?

The two partners of a desktop publishing business in Thomas Street decided to publish a local, community paper. While they were hoping to showcase their design and publishing prowess, both partners were also severely dismayed at the boring media landscape prevailing in Brisbane at the time.

Kerrod Trott had gained experience with independent publishing when he’d lived in the hills outside Lismore in the eighties. He helped put out a weekly alternative newspaper, The Northcoaster, and published his own alternative magazine Incredible Times.

Ian Cunningham was a bright young computer whiz and graphic designer, and a musician in a popular covers band called Tickled Pink.

John Jiggens was the first editor. John was a self-published poet who dressed up as Guy Fawkes every November 12 and stood outside the gates of Parliament House in George Street with a fizzing, fake bomb to recite political poetry. (If he tried it these days he’d probably be shot.)

The local small business community got behind the paper from the beginning, and the local artistic, cultural and political communities also welcomed its arrival with open arms.

The Westender was soon flooded with contributions, and deciding which material to publish was always a tough call.

The paper focussed on stories and opinions that weren’t being covered in the mainstream media, and provided a platform for new ideas and alternative viewpoints.

Local environment issues were given a prominent place – Drew Hutton was a contributor from the beginning – and progressive, left-wing politics featured prominently.

The paper also covered the thriving alternative culture scene, and provided a platform for local, independent artists in music, visual arts, theatre, dance, performance and poetry.

As seen in the pages of the very first editions of the Westender, the residents of West End were politically active, ready to mount a protest action at a moment’s notice and noisily fending off what they saw as any threat to their civic rights.

They were politically progressive, and West End at the time was regarded as a safe ALP seat which would in time boast a Prime Minister of Australia (Kevin Rudd), Premier of Queensland (Anna Bligh) and Lord Mayor of Brisbane (Tim Quinn) as local representatives. In 2016 West End would also elect the first Greens Alderman (Johnathan Sri) to Brisbane City Council and a Greens MP to State and Federal Parliament.

They were Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, including a vibrant Indigenous community, and celebrated their differences exuberantly.

There was a thriving migrant community, predominantly Greek and Vietnamese, but with a strong representation of other cultures.

They were adventurous eaters, regularly dining out on Greek, Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai and other cuisines at the astonishing array of local international eateries.

They were great joiners, signing up to a bewildering array of community and special interest groups interested in politics, social justice, the environment, music and the arts, religion and more.

In fact, you could say that the people of West End weren’t all that different thirty years ago. They shared the same values, fought the same battles and were interested in the same things as we are today.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
(The more it changes, the more it stays the same.)
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, January 1849

Over the past few years, since Kerrod relocated to South Australia, Jan Bowman has relished the opportunity to take on the role of volunteer editor. Keeping with the tradition of local stories by local writers, Jan reckons the most rewarding part of the job has been the willingness of so many Westenders to give it a go. They have contributed stories on the weighty matters of floods and the climate crisis, profiles of local filmmakers, reports on local events, our schools, sports, local legends, and our excellent community groups. She says it has been an absolute pleasure.

So finally, a great big thank you to all the readers, contributors, advertisers and supporters who made the Westender possible for all these years.


Kerrod Trott
Publisher and occasional Editor

More Information

The Queensland State Library holds digital and hard copy of early editions of the Westender.

Our online stories date back to 2009 – you can search by category, author or topic.