One of the first settlers to arrive in Adelaide in 1836, Mary Thomas, wrote that she had celebrated Christmas according to custom with plum pudding. But the main dish had a more colonial flavour – ham and parrot pie. The colony of South Australia was proclaimed three days after Christmas.While the colonists clung to English eating habits, necessity often obliged them to supplement their diet with Australian game. Parrot pie apparently became a well-recognised dish, with a recipe making its way back to England to be included in later editions of Mrs Beeton’s cook books.
Eating the local wildlife persisted well into the 20th century. In 1907, Thomas Ward wrote in Rambles of an Australian Naturalist:
Parrot-shooting is a favourite sport in Australia, and takes the place of rook-shooting in England. It was, I think, a more prevalent pastime in my youthful days than at present. Parrots were then more abundant than they are now; and on public holidays, especially at Christmas time, people went out of the towns by hundreds, often for a week at a time, to shoot parrots. Parrot pie is as much esteemed in Australia as rook pie in England; and if the birds are young, is quite as palatable. But an old parrot is one of the toughest birds that fly, and one of the hardest to kill.