1870s

1879 First frozen meat exports

SS Dunedin carried frozen meat exports

SS Dunedin

In 1876, an unsuccessful attempt was made to ship frozen meat from Australia to the UK.  The equipment broke down en route and the cargo was spoiled.  In 1879, the first successful frozen meat exports were achieved when 40 tons of frozen beef and mutton was shipped from Sydney to the UK aboard the Strathleven,  arriving in good condition.  Subsequently, the Dunedin, was fitted with a refrigeration plant and began carrying frozen cargo from New Zealand to England.

1879 First Greek fish and chip shop 

Fish and chip shop

Athanassio Comino hailed from the Greek island of Kythera and arrived in Sydney in 1873. Although some accounts say he opened the first Australian fish and chip shop, family records suggest he copied the idea from a Welshman in Oxford Street. He reputedly opened in competition a few doors away in 1879.  More

1878 Banana plantations in Queensland

Banana bunchThe first banana plants were brought to Australia by Chinese migrants, probably as early as the middle of the 19th century. In the 1873 gold was discovered in the Palmer River area of far North Queensland, attracting Chinese miners. After 1878, many of the miners returned to coastal areas such as Cooktown, Cairns and Innisfail (then called Geraldton) and planted bananas, sugar cane, pineapples and other crops.>History of Bananas More

1878 The great rabbit explosion

explosionPassengers aboard the Aconcagua had a less-than-pleasant voyage through the Red Sea when 20,000 cans of rabbit meat exploded in the heat.  The rabbits were exported from South Australia, bound for Britain. The stench from rotting rabbits permeated the ship for many days.

1878 Coffee Palace Hotel Company formed

Collingwood_coffee_palace_in_1879Coffee palaces were developed with the backing of the temperance movement as an alternative to pubs. The Sydney Coffee Palace Hotel Company was formed in 1878 to operate several of these grand temperance hotels constructed during the 1870s. During the 1880s, the number of temperance hotels boomed and they were promoted as family-friendly places to stay, away from the evil influences of alcohol.  More

1878 Castlemaine Brewery opens in Brisbane

XXX Sparkling Ale from Castlemaine BreweryEdward Fitzgerald had opened a brewery in Castlemaine, Victoria, in 1857. Moving to Queensland, he acquired a local partner, purchased a brewery and Castlemaine XXX Sparkling Ale was released in 1878. In 1889, Castlemaine Brewery was the first in Queensland to produce a lager-style beer.  The additional X was added in 1924, when XXXX Bitter Ale was released.

1878 Great Artesian Basin discovered

Hot artesian bore water at Charlotte Plains station camping area, near Cunnamulla, Qld

© Stephanie Jackson Photographs of Australia

The Great Artesian Basin is a natural underground water resource covering thousands of square kilometers in inland Australia. Natural springs fed from this source were long known to indigenous people. Europeans discovered the water when a bore was sunk near Bourke, NSW, in 1878.  The image here is from Charlotte Plains Station camping area, near Cunnamulla, Queensland. More

1878 Queen Victoria Market opens in Melbourne

The Queen Victoria Market was built on the site of the city’s first cemetery. It is now the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere, with a colourful (and criminal) history, from mafia killings and extortion rackets to piracy crackdowns. It’s also home to the famous American Doughnut Kitchen food van.

1877 Phylloxera affects Australian vines

Phylloxera warning signPhylloxera, an aphid-like root louse that destroys grapevines, devastated up to 70% of Europe’s vineyards at the end of the 19th century. It first appeared in Australia at Geelong in 1877. It spread north, being detected in New South Wales in 1884 and Queensland in 1910, destroying vineyards and devastating the industry.  South Australia, having banned movement of vine material in 1874, remained free of the pest. Western Australia and Tasmania also escaped infection.>Vincyclopedia

1876 The first Ekka

Refreshment hall at first EkkaIt wasn’t called the Ekka then, of course. The Intercolonial Exhibition of 1876 was the first exhibition of the National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, which was formed in 1875. The exhibition took place at Bowen Park. Some 15,000 to 17,000 people attended.

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1876 Stump Jump Plough invented

Stump jump plough designSouth Australian, Robert Bowyer Smith, developed the first Stump Jump Plough in 1876 and took out a patent the following year. The plough made clearing Mallee scrub for cultivation easier and faster. The technology was not, at first, well accepted and he allowed his patent to lapse, whereupon other manufacturers began to capitalise on the idea. Smith was formally recognised as the plough’s inventor in 1882, receiving a bonus payment from the Parliament and a government land grant.

1875 Arnott’s first factory opens

William Arnott's Steam Biscuit FactoryIn 1865, William Arnott opened a bakery in Newcastle supplying goods to local people and visiting ships. Among his products were ship’s biscuits. He opened his first factory, known as William Arnott’s Steam Biscuit Factory, in 1875 and launched the famous Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot biscuits in 1882. The well-known parrot logo, which still adorns Arnott’s trucks, was introduced in 1888.>History of Arnott’s

1873 First drugstore soda fountain

Early soda fountainAlthough soda fountain machines had appeared in Australia at least as early as the 1860s, the first American-style drugstore soda fountain seems to have been in the pharmacy of Caleb and Washington Soul (who later gave their name to Soul & Pattinson). Their store in Pitt Street, Sydney, included a large soda fountain and milk bar and became part of Sydney’s social scene. More

1873 First Railway Refreshment Rooms in NSW

 Poster for Food to Go - exhibition on Railway Refreshment RoomsThe first Railway Refreshment Rooms (RRRs) were at railway stations at Mittagong and Mt Victoria. In 1874, the refreshment room at Sydney’s Central Station was opened. The RRRs served beverages. hot grills, soup, sandwiches, cold meats and salads and pies.From 1926, some lines provided on-board dining. Food to Go, a NSW Rail Heritage exhibition in 2011/12, told the story of railway dining.

1873 First gas stove in Australia

Early gas stove

Victorian era gas stove

The first U.S. patent on a gas stove was granted in 1825 and the first English patent in 1826 but gas cooking did not become common until the late 19th century. Although gas was used for street lighting in Sydney from 1841,  it was unsuitable for use in homes until purification was introduced in 1857. The first gas stove in Australia was imported by the Australian Gaslight Company and sold for £4. The company ran cooking classes to teach women how to use the new fuel.

1872 Oyster farming begins in Sydney

Sydney rock oysterWith the depletion of natural oyster beds through dredging, attempts began to farm the Sydney Rock Oyster. According to the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry, commercial oyster farming began when the first ponds were established in Gwawley Bay, on the George River, by Thomas Holt in 1872.  Other sources date his first attempts to 1866. More

1872 Skinner’s Preserved Delicacies

InGreen Turtle 1872, English immigrant Brainard Skinner established a small cannery in O’Connell Town, now the inner city Brisbane suburb of Windsor. Using the brand name Skinner’s Preserved Delicacies, he became well known for a range of goods, especially his Green Turtle Soup. He also canned meat and fruit, and even made a dugong paté. More

1870 Chicory on Phillip Island

Bushells Essence of Coffee & ChicoryAccording to the Phillip Island & District Historical Society, chicory was first grown on Phillip Island in 1870. It was used as a substitute for coffee or as an addition to coffee essence.  Until 1873, when the first chicory kiln was built on the island, the chicory was shipped green and taken to Melbourne by Captain John Lock in his ketch, John and Elizabeth. More

1870 First commercial olive oil production

olive oil Although olive trees were introduced to Australia in around 1800, it wasn’t until the 1840s that experiments in commercial olive oil production began. A commercial oil press operated briefly in South Australia from 1864, but the first commercially successful operation began in 1870. It was based at Adelaide Gaol, where prisoners were employed in planting, tending, harvesting and processing olives.   More

1870s Chinese abalone fisheries in Tasmania

AbaloneAbalone was an important food source for aboriginal people in Tasmania. Europeans called abalone mutton fish and found it nearly inedible. However, when the gold rush brought Chinese immigrants to Australia they held the shellfish in high esteem. Chinese fisherman gathered abalone in Tasmania for shipping to the Victorian goldfields until a prohibitive duty was imposed by the Victorian Government. More