With two employees from the Sydney Gazette Frederick Stokes and Alfred Ward Stephens, McGarvie imported a printing press in 1831 and commenced publication of the Sydney Herald. Its first edition was on 18 April 1831. Soon afterwards, McGarvie sold his share to his two other partners.
After a brief trip back to Scotland, McGarvie resumed bookselling at the Australian Warehouse. After contracting a severe cold, he died in Sydney aged 31 years and was survived by his wife, Isabella, and a three-week-old son. Isabella later remarried Dr Frederick Mackellar whose only son was Charles Mackellar, who in turn had a daughter, the poet Dorothea Mackellar.