Bell's life in Australia | State Library of New South Wales

'Bell's life in Australia'

Bell’s Life in Australia and Weekly Retrospect of all Events of Importance was published in 1848. The weekly newspaper covered sporting and topical events in Australia and overseas, giving broader coverage than the Sydney-based Bell’s Life in Sydney or the Melbourne-based Bell’s Life in Victoria. However it was very short-lived, only lasting six issues, 1 January until 5 February 1848. The newspaper described itself as:

“…a summary of all the eventful Topics and News of the Week, both foreign and domestic, Shipping Intelligence, Insolvency Proceedings, etc, but will more particularly contain matters of general importance as relates and has reference to the SPORTING WORLD and the busy Scenes of Life, with Police Reports, and, in fact, every passing event that can afford information and amusement to the reader. “ (Broadside, 1847)

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Bell's life in Australia and weekly retrospect of all events of importance, No. 1 (Jan 1, 1848) - No.2 (Jan 11, 1848). Printed. MDQ079/59


Bell's Life in AustraliaDetail from: Bell's Life in Australia, Jan 1, 1848 (above)

“Hail to Petersham! Most convenient locality – happily situated in every respect for those who can’t afford … or being only moderately rich…” (Bell’s life in Australia, 1 January, 1848)

The first issue featured coverage of the popular Petersham Races, which started in Sydney in 1845. The Petersham races were organised by Thomas Shaw, proprietor of the Woolpack Inn (now Bald Faced Stag Hotel) on Parramatta Road, Leichhardt. The racecourse was established on paddocks near his inn and extended down to Petersham railway line. The races attracted large crowds, particularly to the annual post-Christmas carnival during 1845-1849.

“The full tide of human affairs in Sydney … was from Woolley’s corner to Petersham, the crowd gaining strength from each of the intersecting streets of the main line … It was a motley and goodly sight – children squalling, pieman bawling, mammas in a horrid funk lest papa should get drunk…” (Bell’s life in Australia, 1 January, 1848)

The next issue featured results of the Drapers’ Races at Homebush, which included a win by the famous thoroughbred horse Jorrocks.  His greatest racing feats were on the track at Homebush, the centre of racing in Sydney at the time.

“The sport throughout the day was very fair, more particularly the 3rd race, which was ultimately won in grand style by the wonderful old horse, Jorrocks … He appeared quite fresh and was heartily cheered by the surrounding spectators, whose plaudits he appeared to understand, and seemed proud of receiving public notice” (Bell’s life in Australia, 8 January, 1848)

> Read more issues of Bell’s life in Australia and weekly retrospect of all events of importance, via the Library’s catalogue catalogue link

> Discover more about Sydney’s early racecourses, including Petersham and Homebush, during the 19th century