About this timeline

Read the book

This book, A Timeline of Australian Food, by Jan O'Connell expands on much of the material from the Australian Food History Timeline website. This lavishly illustrated book is based on the timeline and covers 150 years of Australian food – from mutton to MasterChef. If it’s not on the shelf in your bookstore they can order it for you or you can buy online. More details here.

The Australian food history timeline project started as a spin-off from my food memoir, Me and My Big Mouth. But it kept expanding. You can still buy the memoir by following this link.

Explore the timeline

This website traces the history of Australian food since white settlement in 1788, with a glance at what came before. Entries are by decade; scroll down and use the Load More button, use the menu to jump to a decade, or search for a specific topic.

But wait, there’s more

You’ll find other, mostly food-related musings in My (Other) Blog  – the link takes you to my author website Me and My Big Mouth. These are stories that didn’t fit the timeline format. Or check out my YouTube channel here to see Australian food history timeline stories brought to life. For updates and other fun stuff,  follow the Timeline on Facebook.

2019 Veganism among 2019 food trends

Veganism among food trends for 2019By 2019, veganism had lost its crank status and become almost mainstream. Other food trends identified as important for 2019 were eating for gut health, food shopping more frequently, “peganism” (a cross between paleo and vegan diets) and the growth in faux meat products. There was an increasing emphasis on reducing waste, including moves to eliminate plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups and single-use straws. Good Food declared 2019 the “Year of the Prawn” but maybe no-one was listening. More

2018 Needles in strawberries sabotage

sewing needles in strawberriesIn September 2018 a 21-year-old man was rushed to hospital in Queensland after swallowing a sewing needle that was embedded in a strawberry. Other instances of needles in strawberries were soon reported around Australia. In November, police arrested a woman who had worked as a supervisor at the Berrylicious and Berry Obsession berry farm in Wamuran, north of Brisbane and charged her with the sabotage. More

2018 Single-use plastic bags banned. Or not.

single-use plastic bags

From 1 July 2018, the two major supermarket chains planned to ban single-use plastic bags at the checkouts. On the same date new legislation came into effect in Western Australia and Queensland banning the bags for all supermarkets, takeaway stores, pharmacies, goods sold online and markets. Bans were already in place in Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory. But in New South Wales and Victoria, supermarket customers did not go quietly into that good plastic-bag free future. More

2018 Domino’s vegan pizza

Domino's vegan pizzaAll the pundits predicting the 2018 food trends agreed on one thing. Vegetable-based foods are HOT, they said.  It seems more Aussies are going vegan, which is no doubt why pizza chain Domino’s  announced its vegan pizza range in January. There are three different varieties, all using vegan cheese, or you can build your own from a list of veggie ingredients.


2018 Violet Crumble ownership change

Violet Crumble ownership change will see brand back in Australian handsIn January 2018, Nestlé sold the iconic Australian chocolate bar to the South Australian confectionery company Robert Menz, returning it to Australian ownership. The Violet Crumble ownership change was announced by no less than the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill. He said the manufacturing operation would return to South Australia, creating 30 new jobs. More

2017 Good Food Guide goes national

Good Food Guide 2018 - national editionInstead of publishing a Good Food Guide for each state, Fairfax have made the move to a national Guide. This means one book, one awards night and one lot of publicity. Quite a cost saving, you’d think. However, they’re spinning it as a response to Australians’ greater mobility. More

2017 Vegemite Australian-owned again

Vegemite Australian-ownedSome people have suggested 19 January should become a national holiday to commemorate the day we saw Vegemite Australian-owned again. Bega Cheese bought the factory and a number of Kraft brands in a deal worth $460 million. Bega is listed on the Australian stock exchange and many of its shareholders are the dairy farmers who supply its milk. More

2016 Halal snack pack people’s choice word of the year

Halal Snack PackThe Macquarie Dictionary named ‘halal snack pack’ as a runner-up word of the year for 2016, behind ‘fake news’.  However, online voting for the people’s choice award put it first. The dictionary defines this gourmet’s delight as ‘a fast food combining layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chilli sauce. Abbrev: HSP’. More

2016 Goodbye Sunnyboy

Original Sunny-boy

Original Sunny-boy

In September 2016 the Daily Juice Company announced that the Sunnyboy was being deleted. The pyramid-shaped ice-block in a Tetrapak was part of a typically Australian childhood and the Twittersphere exploded with protests. Some, however, pointed out that pure nostalgia wasn’t enough to keep the brand alive and a lack of sales made the product’s death inevitable. The Sunny-boy trademark (with its original hyphen)  was first registered by Berri Limited in 1964.


2016 More Aussies are vegetarian

vegetarian choicesRoy Morgan research found that between 2012 and 2016, the number of Australian adults whose diet is all or almost all vegetarian rose from 1.7 million people (or 9.7% of the population) to almost 2.1 million (11.2%). In New South Wales, there was a 30% growth in this kind of diet. More

2016 Free range eggs standard set

free range eggs standardIn a controversial move, the consumer affairs ministers from the various Australian states and territories agreed in March 2016 on a new free range eggs standard. While this did provide certainty for consumers, the stocking levels and conditions for hens were decried by Choice as not truly “free range”. More

2016 Our favourite supermarket brands

dick smith foodsA survey commissioned by Canstar Blue revealed a list of supermarket brands Australians said they couldn’t live without. As the trend towards private label brands continued, Canstar Blue said only the most popular brands would survive. Only two of the top brands, Dick Smith Foods and Sanitarium, were Australian owned. More

2016 International Year of Pulses

Lentil doughnuts - International Year of PulsesWe’ve had the International Year of the Potato. Now the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. As in beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. The motivation is both ecological and health-oriented and cites the rise of obesity as a reason to eat less meat and more vegetable protein. So – pulses.  Lentil doughnuts anyone? More

2015 Voluntary Supermarket Code of Conduct

AGFC Food and Grocery CodeIn March 2015 Aldi was the first of the major supermarket chains to sign up to a new voluntary Supermarket Code of Conduct. Metcash IGA said it would implement the code on a trial basis for 12 months. The code gives the ACCC more power to investigate complaints by suppliers.

2015 Flat white hits Starbucks USA

Starbucks Flat WhiteReversing the usual direction of cultural exchange, Starbucks have introduced the Flat White coffee in US outlets. This Australian (we claim) invention had already made it to London and New York. Now the USA’s biggest coffee chain is inviting patrons to “Find the perfect balance between rich ristretto shots and creamy, steamed milk with our new Flat White espresso drink”. More

2014 Macca’s healthy cafe

Macca's healthy cafe The Corner by McCafeIn a world first, McDonald’s is trialling a new cafe concept in Sydney’s Camperdown, opposite the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Macca’s healthy cafe, dubbed The Corner by McCafe carries no traditional McDonald’s branding and features grain and legume salads, exotic flavours and even tofu.


2014 Fruit juice less popular

Fruit juiceAccording to research company Roy Morgan, Australians drank less fruit juice in 2014. This continues a four-year trend. They reported that over 1.5 million fewer Australians aged 14 years or more drank packaged juice in an average week compared with 2010. More

2014 Health Star Rating on food packaging

Health Star RatingIn a response to growing concerns about obesity, the Health Star Rating was developed by the Australian, state and territory governments in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. It’s a voluntary program, with foods displaying ratings from a half to five stars. The healthiness of foods is determined by an algorithm that assesses risk and positive nutrients in food. More

2014 Food trends according to Good Food Guide

Good Food Guide 2015Commenting on 2014 food trends, Larissa Dubecki and Jane Apelgren of The Age Good Food Guide identified pickles, kale, milk sheets, beef cheeks and pork jowl as among the hot ingredients over the past year. Salted caramel, they say, has had its day, replaced in the sweet stakes with licorice, coconut, popcorn and bacon. It’s bye bye sous vide and hello smoke and flame. More

2014 Riesling tops in wine survey

According to a survey by online wine retailer Vinomofo, Riesling was Aussie wine-drinkers’ preferred white in 2014, ahead of Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc comes third. Shiraz was the preferred red, with Cabernet declining and Pinot Noir making gains. The wine survey found that nearly half of us drink wine on three to five days each week. More

2014 Woolworths supports SPC Ardmona

spc-ardmona tinned peachesIn a PR triumph, supermarket chain Woolworths announced a five-year deal with struggling Victorian fruit packer SPC Ardmona to supply fruit for their Select house brand. The announcement followed an unsuccessful attempt by SPC to obtain financial support from the Australian government. More

2014 Google Streetview inside Coles

Google streetview inside ColesThe Coles store in Sydney’s Broadway has become the first supermarket in Australia to use Google Business Photos.  In the style of Google’s Streetview, you can see  360-degree interior imagery of the refurbished Broadway store. You can  click through from the street and check out the key features of the store. But the shoppers remain incognito – all faces are blurred. More

2014 GMO legal case – neighbour vs neighbour

Canola flowers - GMO legal caseIt was a landmark GMO legal case. A Western Australian farmer sued his neighbour after losing his organic status, when GM canola seedheads blew onto his property. Steve Marsh can no longer sell his oats as organic. He’s been stripped of his organic certification and export licence. He sued for loss of income. This was the first civil damages case brought for contaminating organic crops by negligence. The court ruled against MarshMore

2013 Keto diet becoming popular

keto diet bookThe Keto diet (or ketogenic diet) was originally developed in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy. It echoed some of the body chemistry associated with fasting, which even the ancient Greeks had determined relieved the “falling sickness”. It was largely abandoned for this purpose when new epilepsy drugs were developed. However, it has now become a popular way to lose weight. The diet involves eating a high-fat, moderate protein diet with very few carbohydrates, which “teaches” the body to burn fat rather than carbs for energy. More

2013 Weekly shop a thing of the past

Research conducted for Woolworths by Bernard Salt of KPMG showed that Australians’ shopping habits have changed significantly over the past 25 years. Just 35% of an average family’s food budget is spent on the main weekly shop – and that primary shopping day is increasingly likely to be Sunday, not Saturday. The research also linked stay-at-home adult children to higher household food spending and cast light on the changing contents of the trolley. More

2013 Queensland redefines free-range eggs

Intensively farmed free-range eggsDespite a growing community focus on the welfare of farmed animals, the Queensland Government  changed its legislation to redefine what constitutes free-range eggs. Previously, Queensland was the only state to give legal status to the national Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, which specifies a maximum of 1,500 birds per hectare. The new standard of 10,000 birds per hectare handily fell in line with what Coles defined as free-range. More

2013 More Aussies drinking cider

First festival for Aussies drinking ciderAccording to Roy Morgan research, there are more Aussies drinking cider than ever before. In the 12 months to March 2013, nearly one in five Australians aged between 18 and 24 drank cider in an average four week period. This compares with just one in 25 in 2008. While young people are most likely to drink cider, there’s a steep increase among  35 to 49-year-olds too, from  3 per cent to 8 per cent over the past two years. The Australian Cider Festival was first held at Manly’s Hotel Steyne in October 2012. More

2013 Choc Tops change hands

Choc_TopRowena Foods, manufacturers of that favourite of cinema-goers, the Choc Top, was bought by Bulla Dairy Foods. Rowena’s Choc Tops have been part of the cinema experience since 1990. The company supplies  the two biggest cinema chains, Hoyts and Village. More

2013 The modern sandwich

SandwichThe lunch! event held in Sydney for the take-away food industry incorporated competitions for the best sandwich, wrap, juice and smoothie. The overall winner in the sandwich section,  Mal Gill from Lady Marmalade & Shady Palms, Brisbane, cleaned up with a wrap including Berbere spiced shredded beef brisket, sweet potato, beetroot hummus and bitter leaves. His winning lunch roll was a Tokyo Pork Belly Sub with spiced pear relish, miso mayo, raw Brussell sprout slaw and five-spiced crackling.  It’s a long way from toasted ham and cheese!

2013 Food retailing worth $141.4 billion

Report giving stats on food and liquor retailingAccording to ‘Australian Food Statistics’, a report produced by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) in 2013, with data extracted from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other sources, the  value of food and liquor retailing in Australia grew by 4 per cent in 2012–13 to $141.4 billion   Of that spending, supermarkets and grocery outlets accounted for 62%, cafes and restaurants 14%, take-away outlets 11%, liquor retailing 7% and other food outlets 6%. More

2013 Chips most popular snack food

Ropotato-chipsy Morgan research released the results of a snack food survey showing that 33 per cent of Australians bought potato chips in an average four-week period during the 12 months to March 2013. This was down slightly from 36 per cent in the year to March 2009. Other popular snack foods were chocolate coated biscuits (20 per cent), savoury biscuits (19 per cent), and corn chips (16 per cent). In New Zealand, potato chips are even more popular, with 44 per cent having bought them in an average four week period.>Australian Food News


2013 Corner stores on the wane

corner storesAustralian industry research group BIS Shrapnel reported a 34% decrease in the number of corner stores between 2010 and 2012. They attributed this to the rise in the number of petrol stations incorporating convenience stores with expanded food and beverage offerings. Many of these are owned by Coles or Woolworths. An estimated 2725 corner stores remained, with the average annual takings decreasing from $985,000 to $750,000 in the previous two years. More

2013 Rosella closed down – then revived

Rosella logoIn March 2013 the remaining factory of iconic Australian brand Rosella closed down after the receivers failed to find a buyer for the business. Much was made of the return of Rosella to Australian hands when Unilever (who acquired it in 1963) unloaded it to Stuart Alexander & Co Pty Ltd in 2002. The business was sold again in 2006 to Gourmet Food Holdings, but receivers were appointed in December 2012. By then Rosella was reduced to one Sydney factory with 70 employees. In April 2013 the brand (but not the business) was bought by local company Sabrands.  >>See Rosella Preserving Company founded, 1895.


2013 First non-GMO certification scheme in Australia

non-GMO certification logoEuropean certification business Cert ID Europe, with food science consultancy HACCP Australia,  launched the first non-GMO certification program for the Australian food industry. (HACCP stands for hazard analysis and critical control points and  is a systematic preventive approach to food safety.) More

2013 McDonald’s becomes Macca’s

Macca's signageFor a few weeks leading up to Australia Day,  McDonald’s in Australia became ‘Macca’s’, on the website, in advertising, on menus and even on signs on selected stores. McDonald’s research found that 55 per cent of Australians called the company Macca’s and they have  submitted the word to the Macquarie Dictionary for consideration. More

2012 Peters Ice Cream Australian again, but not for long

Changed Peters Ice Cream ownership meant a changed logoIn June 2012, international food company Nestlé sold Peters Ice Cream to the Australian private equity firm, Pacific Equity Partners. The change in Peters Ice Cream ownership saw this famous Australian brand back in local hands. In 2014, however, PEP sold the brand to UK-based R&R Ice Cream which in turn partnered with Nestlé to form Froneri.


2012 HelloFresh home delivery meals

HelloFresh home deliveryDescribed as the food delivery business for home cooks, HelloFresh delivers a weekly box of ingredients including fresh meat and vegetables, along with the recipes for preparing them. This home delivery concept originated in Germany in 2011 and in 2012 MasterChef finalist, Tom Rutledge, founded the Australian arm of the business, originally delivering in Sydney. Since then, home delivery of ready-cooked or cook-it-yourself meals has expanded exponentially. More

2012 Top fine diners

Good Food Guide names top fine dinersIn selecting its top fine diners, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide again named Quay as its restaurant of the year. In Melbourne, The Age’s Guide chose Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde. The best Victorian country restaurant was Provenance in Beechworth, with its chef, Michael Ryan, winning the chef of the year award. More

2012 Australian Year of the Farmer

Australian Year of the Farmer logoThe Australian Year of the Farmer was launched by the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, in October 2011 on the site of Australia’s first farm, Farm Cove, now the site of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. The aims of the year were to celebrate the continuing importance of farming to Australia and to strengthen the connections between rural and urban Australia.

2012 Death cap mushrooms kill three in Canberra

death cap mushroomsTwo people died from liver damage after a New Year’s eve dinner in Canberra where they ate Amanita phalloides, or death cap mushrooms. A third person later died in hospital. Death cap mushrooms have been involved in the majority of deaths around the world from mushroom poisoning, including that of Roman emperor Claudius. More

2011 Denmark introduces ‘fat tax’

Denmark introduces fat taxThe Danish government introduced a fat tax’ surcharge on foods containing more than 2.3% saturated fats. This initiative to combat heart disease and obesity came despite the fact that only 13.4 % of Danes are obese, compared to more than 33% in the USA. However the fat tax was scrapped in March 2015, because it was widely unpopular and because Danes were still finding ways to satisfy their appetite for fatty foods, including crossing the border into Germany to buy their favourite products.


2011 Greenpeace attacks genetically modified wheat

Greenpeace destroy genetically modified wheatOn July 14, Greenpeace activists in full biohazard gear, broke into a CSIRO research facility in Canberra and destroyed a genetically modified wheat crop. They claimed it was to be used in “the world’s first human feeding trials of GM wheat, without adequate safety testing.” The CSIRO and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator said there was no significant risk to human health. More

2011 World’s largest lamington

Not the world's largest lamington

Big lamington – artist’s impression

On June 11, 2011, Toowoomba broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest lamington at the Newtown Rugby League Club. The record-beater weighed 2361 kilograms,  equivalent to 45000 normal lamingtons, and eclipsed the previous record held by Ipswich. Both cities claim to be the birthplace of this Australian classic and Toowoomba is contemplating erecting a “big lamington” as a tourist attraction. More

2011 Fast food chains hit big numbers

American fast food chainsIn 2008 an IGA survey reported in Foodweek had found that 57% of Australians ate fast food at least once a week. A Sensis report the following year revealed that eating at a restaurant accounted for eight per cent of meals in Australia, with take-away food accounting for a further nine per cent. By 2011 Australia had more than 1250 Subways, 845 Domino’s, 780 McDonald’s and 300 Hungry Jack’s, with 600 KFCs across Australia and New Zealand. It was estimated that Australians would spend $37 billion on fast food in 2011. More

2011 Worst fast food named

Double Whopper - Australia's worst fast foodThe consumer organisation, CHOICE, named Hungry Jack’s Ultimate Double Whopper as the worst fast food, with a single burger delivering  almost 60 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily kilojoule intake. More

2011 Milestones in food presentation – blog

Food presentation - the 'stacking era'Someone who has seen (and done) it all posted this amusing summary of restaurants’ food presentation styles since the 1950s.  Eras include the Miniscule Era, the Gigantic Era, the Stacking Era, the Sprinkling Era and the Drizzle Era. The writer is clearly of the ‘old school’ and more than a little scornful about molecular gastronomy. More

2011 Cyclone Yasi destroys banana crop

Cyclone Yasi hit banana cropsBananas suddenly became a luxury item when Cyclone Yasi ripped through Queensland banana plantations in early February. It was estimated that around 75 per cent of the banana crop, valued at around $350 million, was destroyed. About 20 per cent of the sugar crop was also lost. More

2010 Online grocery sales gain momentum

Online grocery salesColes and Woolworths saw their online grocery sales double in 2010, suggesting that a trend that got off to a slow start in the early 1990s was finally gaining momentum. Woolworths had begun to offer online shopping in a limited form in Sydney in 1992. At that time, fewer than one in three households had a personal computer.  Coles began  online grocery sales in 1999. A small number of independent food delivery operators also had online ordering systems. More

2010s New cuisines draw crowds

New cuisines included Korean KimchiAs we entered the second decade of the 21st century, the latest “in” cuisines were Korean, Mexican, South American (BBQ) and Scandinavian. Or, if you believe Matt Preston, the new cuisines were Spanish, Latin American and Japanese. More

2010 noma named world’s best

René Redzepi at nomaChef René Redzepi’s restaurant noma displaced El Bulli as Restaurant magazine’s best in the world. The restaurant, located in Copenhagen, Denmark introduced foraging as a fundamental part of the menu.  Local ingredients at noma include Icelandic skyr curd, halibut, Greenland musk ox, berries and water. More

2010 Masterchef trumps politicians

Masterchef final more popular than politiciansThe culinary contest/reality TV MasterChef series, proved so popular in Australia that it outranked national politicians.  The pre-election television debate between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, had to be moved to a different time slot because it would clash with Masterchef Series II final. And no prizes for guessing which program rated better. More

2010 House brands increasing

The major supermarket chains introduced house brands in the 1970s but these were initially sold on price. They were often seen as low quality and unlikely to offer serious competition to branded products.  However, by 2010, house brands had reached 24.5 per cent of sales in Coles, with more than 3800 own-brand lines. More

2010 Franklins disappears

Franklins logoFranklins was founded in 1941 in Sydney and went through many changes of ownership over the next six decades. Since 2001, the chain had only existed in New South Wales. In 2010, all Franklins stores were sold to Metcash for A$215 million, to become part of the IGA chain.   More

2010 Macaron craze

Dream Cuisine truffle macaronsMacarons  became “the new cupcakes”. Consisting of two almond meal and egg white biscuits, sandwiched together with ganache, macarons in their current form were invented in Paris in the early 20th century by Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée (although forms of almond cookie had been around for much longer). More