Officially, the Yatala Pie Shop opened on the Pacific Highway south of Brisbane in 1914. So significant is this that it’s included in the Queensland Government’s timeline of important dates in the state’s history. However, the legendary pie shop traces its history further back than that – back to the 1880s in fact.
The story goes that, back then, an impoverished young couple, stranded in the area when a wheel of their wagon broke, began selling pies to provide themselves with an income. Their choice of location was problematic, being close to the Albert River which was (and still is) notoriously prone to flooding. Their little pie stall was swept away more than once, including in the disastrous flood of 1887 and another in 1893, but was rebuilt each time. In 1914, the pie shop was moved to more substantial premises on the old Pacific Highway.
It seems appropriate that the word Yatala is derived from the Aboriginal word “yertala” meaning “water running by the side of a river” – in other words, a flood. However, it’s coincidental that it was applied to Yatala in Queensland, given that the word is from the language of the Kaurna people of South Australia where it was an early name for a section of the Torrens River. In 1868, the name Yatala was given to a property on the Albert River by Arthur Dixon, who called it after his previous home in South Australia. It was later adopted for the region.
Floods have continued to bedevil the Yatala Pie Shop. The original shop on the Pacific Highway was flooded multiple times, including in 1947 and 1974. It was relocated when the old two-lane Pacific Highway was replaced by the Pacific Motorway but the large, modern building has since been subjected to severe flooding, including in 2017 and 2022.
Despite this, the pie shop – probably the oldest pie-seller in Australia – soldiers on. It offers a vast range of pies from the Plain Steak Pie to the fancy Chicken Mushroom Mornay number. And not forgetting the Tradie, with steak, bacon, cheese, tomato and egg. If you want something truly exotic, there’s the vegan-friendly Red Thai Peanut Curry Parcel.
Generations of Brisbanites have fond memories of stopping in at the Yatala Pie Shop on their way to the beaches of the Gold Coast. And that’s not about to change. The big pie on a stick remains a landmark near Exit 38 off the M1 and the company now sells some 3,500 pies a day.