The Bundaberg Distilling Company was formed in 1888 to supplement returns from the local sugar industry and to make use of molasses, a waste product from sugar refining. The first Bundaberg Rum was distilled in 1889 and the following year it was being sold interstate. In its early years the company struggled financially, first returning a profit in 1898.
Chinese prospectors attracted to north Queensland’s goldfields were responsible for the first successful cultivation of rice in Australia. High import duties on rice prompted small scale cultivation, until 1888 when Thomas Behan built a steam-powered rice mill near Cairns. The industry had only moderate success in the area and growers turned to sugar cane.
Although Foster’s Lager was not the first lager to be brewed in Australia (lager beer was first produced commercially by the Cohn brothers in Bendigo), the Foster brothers were the first to use an innovative refrigeration process. William and Ralph Foster were Americans. They produced the lighter, European-style lager that bears their name. More
Arthur Yates established his Australian seed business in 1887 as a branch office of the Yates business in Auckland, New Zealand. In 1893 he launched his range of packet seeds for suburban home gardeners. Two years later he released the first issue of Yates’ Gardening Guide for Australia and New Zealand: Hints for Amateurs, which was among the first guides written for home gardeners. In 1906, the Australian and New Zealand company were separated and were run independently on either side of the Tasman until the 1980s. More
The first Australian Vegetarian Society was formed in Melbourne on June 16 1886 to ‘induce habits of abstinence from the use of fish, flesh, and fowl’ as food. Edgar Crook, author of Vegetarianism in Australia, writes that the founding members were generally religious teetotallers. The first meeting was held at 41 Little Collins Street in central Melbourne at Australia’s first vegetarian restaurant, Mrs Harvie’s Vegetarian Dining Room. A NSW Vegetarian Society was founded in 1891.
Coca-Cola syrup was invented by a pharmacist, John S Pemberton, in Atlanta, Georgia. It reputedly contained cocaine as well as caffeine. Drugstores in the USA were the source of restorative drinks via the popular soda fountains, where carbonated water was added to various syrups. The first national bottling agreement for Coca-Cola was signed in 1899. Bottled versions of popular brands became more common after machine-made bottles became available in 1903, but the familiar contoured Coke bottle was not introduced until 1916. > Soft drink timeline
George and William Chaffey were Canadians who had worked on irrigation schemes in California. They were invited to Australia by Alfred Deakin during a time of drought. The Chaffey brothers’ first irrigation settlement was at Mildura in northern Victoria, followed by one at Renmark, South Australia. In 2007-08, irrigated land comprised less than 0.5 per cent of all agricultural land in Australia but yielded 28 per cent of the total value of agricultural production. >Irrigation facts
The northward expansion of Western Australia’s pastoral industry initially took place by sea, with sheep shipped to the De Grey River in the Pilbara in 1863. The first overland stock drives to the Pilbara occurred a few years later. In 1883, the Durack family began the first overland cattle drive from Queensland to the Kimberley, where they became the owners of Argyle Downs and other large stations. More
Emu Burgundy became Australia’s most significant export brand in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1862, Patrick Auld founded a London company to import and sell wines from his Auldana vineyard outside Adelaide. It was to become the Australian Wine Company and, later, the Emu Wine Company, importing a range of Australian wines. In 1930 the Emu Wine Company purchased a winery in Morphett Vale, South Australia. Acquired by Thomas Hardy in 1976, Emu Wines is now part of Constellation Brands which is wholly owned by the American private equity corporation Carlyle Group.
Three Danish brothers, Moritz, Julius and Jacob Cohn arrived in Bendigo in 1853. In 1856 they began making cider and soft drinks and two years later built a brewery. In 1880 Moritz’s son, also Julius, was sent to Germany to learn the art of brewing lager-style beer and on his return, in 1882, Cohn Brothers began to brew Excelsior Lager. It was Australia’s first successful lager beer, introduced five years before the much more famous Foster’s. More
The first dairy cooperative (and Australia’s first agricultural cooperative), the South Coast and West Camden Co-operative Ltd., was formed by dairymen on the south coast of New South Wales in 1881 taking advantage of new developments in refrigeration. The aim of the cooperative was to streamline the sales process, receiving cream from farms in the district and adding value by manufacturing butter. Other cooperatives soon followed: the Albion Park Co-operative Butter Factory in 1885; the Berry Rural Co-operative Society Limited in 1895 (now South Coast Dairy); the and the Bega Co-operative Creamery Co. Limited (now Bega Cheese) in 1899. More
Aboriginal people had been eating the native macadamia nuts for thousands of years, but they were not eaten by white settlers until the 1850s. The first commercial orchard was planted at Rous Hill, near Lismore, by Charles Staff in the early 1880s. However, nut cracking machinery was not imported until the 1940s. Meanwhile, an industry had become established in Hawaii with seedlings from Australia. Macadamia nuts are now a $100 million industry in Australia.