Local lottery legend: Bishops News Goondiwindi celebrates 100 years of winning moments
Goondiwindi’s the small Queensland town with a long name and big community spirit — and for one local business, an impressive legacy spanning almost the entirety of Australian lottery history.
On 18 May 1923, Bishops News first became a licensed lottery agent. Today, exactly a century later, they’re one of the oldest continuously operating lottery outlets in the country.
Owner Jack Bishop and his son Murray are the third and fourth generations in their family to manage the store, which has become renowned in the region as a place where anyone can feel welcome and leave with a winning smile.
To celebrate their milestone 100 years, we caught up with the Bishop family to trace their story from past to present, with plenty of winning moments in between.
The early days
When watchmaker Archie Bishop first moved from Sydney to Goondiwindi in 1911 and began his business, we doubt he could have imagined just how well Bishops News would stand the test of time.
From its humble beginnings as a newsagency and jewellery gift store, it quickly became an iconic part of the town where people could gather, connect, and exchange news and stories.
Golden Casket comes to town
In 1916, the Queensland Patriotic Fund founded the Golden Casket lottery draw to raise money for WW1 ex-servicemen and their dependents. Initially, cash prizes were not permitted by law, so caskets containing gold were offered as prizes and immediately bought back from winners for the cash value of the prize. The first draw took place in 1917 with a first prize worth 5,000 pounds. In 1920 the State Government took on the conduct of the lottery to raise funds for important public initiatives.
In 1923, just six years after the very first Golden Casket draw, Bishops News became a licensed lottery agent giving Goondiwindi locals and the surrounding region greater opportunity to enter draws for the chance to win a life-changing prize.
A century of success
Across four generations, Bishops News has seen plenty of change and Jack can still recall the idiosyncrasies of running a mid-twentieth-century lottery outlet.
“Years ago, we used to write on the tickets and the butts, and you used to have to send the butts back to the city,” he said.
“Because the mail wasn’t very good in those days, we had to close Saturday Gold Lotto on a Thursday to get all the tickets back to Brisbane in time for the draw. Now, it’s all done instantly with the lottery terminal.”
While Australia’s lotteries have evolved with the introduction of new games, new technology, and new ways to play, the one thing that never changes is the excitement of a win landing in town.
“I remember when the staff at the milk bar down the road went in on a syndicate and won the division one prize,” Jack said.
“You can’t beat the thrill of helping your customers become a winner!”
More recently a young Goondiwindi woman scored a division one Saturday Gold Lotto prize, again proving that big wins do happen in small towns.
Jack Bishop's winning advice
When asked about the secret to winning the lottery, Jack’s always had the same tip for his customers.
“After all these years, people always ask me how to win the big one. My advice has never changed – you’ve got to be in it to win it. You can’t get crook at the fella that wins. If you’ve got a ticket in your hand, you’re in with a chance,” he said.
As for what he’d do if he ever scored a major prize, Jack maintains his community spirit and thinks of others first.
“I try not to think about it too much, but over the years I’ve let my mind wander. I’d definitely help out my family, make sure they’re all set up for the future, and also help charities,” he said.
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