End of an era as newsagent brothers say goodbye

May 03, 2017

Fond farewell: Cobram Newsagents Mark and Rod Dutneall are saying goodbye after decades of running the business, handing over the reins to new owners this week.

After decades of ensuring delivery of the news to the community, Cobram Newsagency owners and brothers Rod and Mark Dutneall have hung up their hats.

Their last day as official owners was on Sunday, with new proprietors Jason and Kelly Bignell taking over the reins on Monday, when they moved into their new premises on Bank St, next to Menthas.

It’s the end of an era for the business, which has been owned and run by the Dutneall family for 68 years.

‘‘In April 1949, after World War II had ended, Dad purchased the Cobram Newsagency, which was located then over the road in Bank St,’’ Rod said.

‘‘It relocated to where it is now, and we’ve been here 40-plus years.

‘‘We started as a humble old shop and we’ve progressed throughout the years.’’

Along with dozens of young children, Rod and Mark learned the trade from a young age, starting with a paper delivery route.

Rain, hail or shine, they’d deliver the papers and the early mornings have been a staple ever since, with Mark getting up at 2am for the early shift.

The brothers said those early years taught them valuable lessons.

‘‘Being a paper boy really taught you things about life. You’re earning your own money and have the responsibility of working a job, but you also learn so much from other people,’’ Mark said.

It was a role parents sought out for their children.

‘‘A lot of parents, especially with young boys, would ask us if we had a job available for their boy,’’ Rod said.

‘‘One of our paper boys was Brad Ennals, who’s now living in New York and is known as Brad Blanks (working in the entertainment industry).

‘‘He came in to visit us when he was back in Cobram recently. There’s a lot who come and say hi when they’re back visiting. There’s a lot who have gone overseas or gone on to big things.

‘‘His parents once told us that if he didn’t have that job as a paper boy, he wouldn’t be where he is now.’’

After working careers in banking, both brothers eventually returned to the family business — Mark first, then Rod.

‘‘We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, and the population of Cobram has been very good to us,’’ Rod said.

He said they’d also witnessed a number of changes, particularly with technology and computers, and the changing way people consumed news.

‘‘I think newspapers will always be around, particularly in regional areas,’’ he said.

Mark and Rod are retiring and Mark said after years of early starts, he was particularly looking forward to sleeping in.

‘‘I’ve had a good time here and you meet some fabulous people,’’ Rod said.

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