Late 1970s Peter Russell-Clarke sells eggs

As eggs became demonised as high-cholesterol food, The Victorian Egg Board enlisted the services of artist, author and television chef Peter Russell-Clarke to promote their product.  He published an Egg Cook Book in 1979 and it is claimed that sales of eggs rose 5% in three years.

1979 Breville Kitchen Wizz released

The Breville Kitchen Wizz food processor was an affordable Australian version of the European MagiMix. It was one of the time-saving appliances, designed to make life easier for working women, who wanted to impress at dinner parties but no longer wanted to make pastry by hand or spend tedious hours pushing ingredients through sieves.

1979 First supermarket to scan barcodes

BarcodesThe first supermarket  to adopt barcode scanning in Australia was SIMS supermarket in Melbourne’s western suburbs. It’s not recorded which product was the first to be scanned. Manufacturers and retailers formed the Australian Product Numbering Association in 1978 and, by 1986, 90 per cent of grocery items sold in Australia carried barcodes.


1979 First Ali Baba kebab store

Ali Baba logoThe first Ali Baba kebab restaurant opened in 1979 outside the Woden Plaza in Canberra’s inner south. It was founded by Lebanese brothers Mick and Karl Marjan. They opened  two more restaurants in Canberra during the 1980s – at Belconnen and in the city – and in 1989 began a franchising operation offering take-away kebabs.  By 2007 it was Australia’s largest kebab and wrap chain. More

1979 The Pritikin Program For Diet And Exercise

American nutritionist Nathan Pritikin’s book,  The Pritikin Program For Diet And Exercise, spent a year on the New York Times’ bestseller list. The program required that you cut out salt, sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol and limit the amount of red meat in your diet. As a result, it promised, you would live to play tennis with your grandchildren. As one dieter commented “You may not live longer on the Pritikin Program, but it certainly feels like longer.” More

1978 First McDonald’s Drive-Thru

McDonald's Drive-ThruIn 1978, Australia’s first McDonald’s Drive-Thru opened in Warrawong, New South Wales. This was just three years after their first American drive-thru, which opened in Arizona in 1975.  It’s suggested that the  Sierra Vista drive-thru was set up to cater to customers from the nearby military base who weren’t permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.


1978 Launch of Big M

Big M flavoured milk was launched in Victoria with overtly sexy imagery of milk running down the cleavage of girls in skimpy bikinis. It competed directly with Coca Cola as a cool teenage drink. The four initial flavours were Chocolate, Banana, Iced Coffee and Strawberry, followed later in the year by Blueberry. The equivalent drink in NSW was Moove, launched the same year. More

1978 REV low fat milk launched in Victoria

Rev low fat milkREV milk was low fat and high calcium and aimed at young adults. In 1988, Lite White milk  was launched in New South Wales and distributed to 85% of the state. Lite White was a success, with a growth of 150% in its second year. The milk was initially aimed at health-conscious 18-39 year-olds. By 1989 reduced and low fat milk held 12.5% of total milk sales.

1978 Décor Insulated Wine Carrier launched

Decor Insulated Wine CoolerThe Décor Insulated Wine Carrier with wine chiller was the essential accoutrement for visits to BYO restaurants. It was designed by Richard Carlson to hold two bottles of wine or four drink cans and had a removable chiller pack between the bottles to keep the drinks cold. Manufactured by Décor, an Australian homewares company, it was awarded an Australian Design Award in 1979 and the Prince Philip Prize in 1980. More

1978 Vogue’s Champagne Diet

Champagne for the champagne dietThe Champagne Diet, published in Australian Vogue, made much of the fact that champagne was the least fattening of all drinks, with just 35 calories a glass, compared to 170 calories for a gin and tonic. The stringent diet regime, clearly a nutritionist’s nightmare, allowed for four glasses of champagne a day, plus a couple of brandies. And not much else: an egg, a small serve of seafood, a few crispbreads and salad. Still, who needs food if you have champagne? More

1977 Howqua Dale weekend retreat founded

HowquadaleSarah Stegley and Marieke Brugman owned and operated the Howqua Dale Gourmet Retreat, at Mansfield in central Victoria for 30 years as a gourmet retreat and cooking school. Howquadale was one of the first places to offer a pre-packaged  weekend getaway based around food. More

1977 Clichy restaurant opened in Collingwood.

Sigmund Jorgenson who opened Clichy restaurant with Iain Hewitson

Sigmund Jorgenson

Iain Hewittson and Sigmund Jorgenson started the influential Clichy restaurant in unfashionable Collingwood. The restaurant menu experimented with nouvelle cuisine, described as “original food in the French manner’. The wine list featured the wines of Victoria alongside French wines – a first for Melbourne. More

1977 Australia’s first 7-Eleven

First 7-Eleven logoThe first 7-Eleven convenience store opened in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh on 24 August  and within a year there were several 7-Eleven stores trading beyond the 7am to 11pm suggested by the name. Along with 7-Eleven stores came the dreaded Slurpee, a brand owned by 7-Eleven and one that has spawned a whole culture of its own. More

1977 First Australian community garden

Community garden toolsThe first Australian community garden was established in the Melbourne suburb of Nunawading, inspired by the UK’s garden allotment scheme. There were 65 four metre by nine metre garden allotments and plots were offered a one-year renewable lease at a cost of $22 plus a $3 membership fee.

1976 Hi-Lo milk launched in the A.C.T.

Hi-Lo Milk, Canberra 1976Ho-Lo milk was the first low-fat specialty milk to be launched on the New South Wales market and a few years later was marketed in the Australian Capital Territory. It had high calcium and high protein, and was promoted as useful for people who were trying to lower the cholesterol in their diets. The “Hi” aspect of the name referred to the addition of milk solids made up of protein, minerals and lactose. Boosting the milk solids also increased the calcium content.  More

1976 Kraft Singles launched

Kraft Singles logoThe best thing since sliced bread was sliced cheese. Kraft Singles, individually wrapped slices of processed cheddar were launched in Australia in 1976. Various varieties are now available. An attempt was made in the 1990s to combine two leading Kraft products in the form of Vegemite Singles. The Vegemite-flavoured cheese slices did not prove popular and were taken off the market. More

1976 Overseas travel booms

Overseas travel was now by jetBy 1976, a million people were leaving Australia annually to travel overseas. They now travelled by air, not by sea, and returned with food preferences influenced by Europe or places along the hippy trail from Kathmandu to London. The increase in overseas travel continued.  There were 1.3 million departures in 1983 and 3.4 million per year by 2003. More

1976 First Thai restaurant

The first Thai restaurant in Australia was the Bahn Thai,  which opened in Melbourne’s St Kilda Road in June 1976. It was closely followed by the ‘Siam’ in Sydney, and another Thai restaurant in Perth. The Patee Thai restaurant,  in Fitzroy, is the oldest Thai Restaurant still operating in Melbourne. It  opened in 1983.  By the end of the 1980s, Thai cuisine began to rival Chinese as a casual dining choice.


1976 Don Dunstan’s Cookbook published

Don Dunstan's CookbookOne of the few politicians to publish a cookbook , the Premier of South Australia favoured an eclectic and informal style of cooking, rather than the stuffy, formal French approach. Don Dunstan’s Cookbook included Indian and Malay dishes, as well as French, Italian, Greek and Swedish ones. He saw this multicultural mix as a distinctly Australian cooking style. More

1975 Flower Drum Restaurant opens in Melbourne

Gilbert Lau was part-owner of the Empress of China restaurant in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, one of the first upmarket Chinese restaurants in the city. He left to open the Flower Drum, which became renowned as one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants and was eventually recognised as one of the world’s top restaurants by Restaurant magazine in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Lau sold the Flower Drum Restaurant in 2003. More

1975 “You oughta be congratulated”

“You oughta be congratulated” TV commercialThe famous “you oughta be congratulated” advertising campaign was designed to assure mums that Meadow Lea Margarine would not only help their families to avoid the evils of butter, but actually tasted good. Created by Alan Morris and Alan Johnson – the “Mo” and “Jo” of Mojo Advertising – it became one of the most famous campaigns of its time. More

1975 Leggo’s turns Italian

Leggo’s Tomato Paste newWith a campaign featuring Gina Lollobrigida, Leggo’s changed its heritage from Cornish (Leggo is a Cornish name) to Italian. Abandoning recipes for cottage pie and Chilli Con Carne, future advertising focused on Italian dishes. Tomato paste formed the basis for many of these recipes. The first Leggo’s  Italian-style sauces were launched in 1975. More

1975 Colour TV introduced in Australia

Colour TVOn 1 March 1975 Australian television stations officially moved to colour. Colour TV had been around for a while overseas and there had been experimental telecasts in Australia. Some advertisers were quick to capitalise on the potential to show their products in appetising colour while others resisted the additional cost involved. More

1974 Breville Snack’n’Sandwich maker

Breville Snack'n'Sandwich MakerA replacement for the old-fashioned jaffle iron, the Breville Snack’n’Sandwich Toaster sold 400,000 and was snapped up by 10 per cent of Australian households in its first year on the market. It allowed toasted sandwiches to be made quickly and with no mess. The appliance was popular overseas and was eventually named as one of British TV personality Stephen Fry’s 100 best gadgets.


1974-5 Australia’s beer consumption peaks

Beer glass. Beer consumption peaked in the '70sAfter a long dry(ish) spell during the depression years of the 1930s, beer consumption grew rapidly during the wartime years.  Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Aussies drank even more. In 1974-5 per capita beer consumption reached its peak of 140.3 litres a year for every person over 15. By 2013/14, this figure had fallen to 92.37 litres, a 60-year low. More

1974 Pink Lady® apples

Pink Lady® applePink Lady® is a trade-marked name for an apple variety known as Cripps Pink. The apple was developed by horticulturalist John Cripps, by crossing the Golden Delicious apple with the Australian variety Lady Williams. Although the variety emerged in 1974, the Pink Lady trademark was not registered until 1989. More

1974 Bankcard launched

BankcardThe  Bankcard brand was shared by Australian financial institutions and was Australia’s first generally available credit card. At launch, banks mailed Bankcards to all their eligible customers causing an outcry about security. Bankcard dominated the credit card market for around ten years, although it could only be used in Australia and New Zealand. With the introduction of the internationally accepted Visa and Mastercard, Bankcard began to decline. It was discontinued in 2006.


1973–74 Supermarkets reach 50% share

Supermarkets build market shareBy the early ’70s supermarkets had 50% share of the grocery market, a substantial increase since 1968-69, when a third of the groceries in Australia were sold in supermarkets. Five years later, this had increased to half.  In 1973, Woolworths had 20% of the Australian grocery market, followed by Coles with 14%. The Davids groupwhich included Supa Valu and Foodland, had 5%, Franklins had 4%, and the Western Australian group FAL 1%. The remaining  55% was shared by other retailers. More

1973 Crock-pot cooking introduced

Early Monier Crock-PotCrock-Pot is a brand name for a bench-top electric slow cooker. The idea dates back to 1940 in the USA when Irving Nachumsohn (known as Naxon) patented a similar device that eventually went to market as the Naxon Beanery. In 1972, it was re-launched in America as the Crock-Pot and seems to have first appeared in Australia under the Monier brand in 1973. More

1973 Abolition of school milk

Ban school milkFree school milk continued long beyond my primary school days, until a report to the government in 1973 deemed it poor value for money. While it came too late for me, I regard the abolition of school milk as one of the finer achievements of the Whitlam government, up there with free university education and bringing the troops home from Vietnam.


1972 Shakahari vegetarian restaurant opens in Lygon Street

Shakahari restaurant signThe ceiling upstairs at Shakahari was silver insulation foil. There was brown rice a-plenty. The food was wholemeal, unrefined and usually an extremely good chew. The influences, as the name suggests, were initially Indian but the cuisine evolved into an east-west fusion. Shakahari had its devotees and was a cool place to go to feel the love.

1972 It’s time – Labor in, White Australia out

Labor in, white australia outGough Whitlam’s Labor government was elected after 23 years of Liberal Party rule. In 1973, the government legislated to eliminate the last vestiges of the infamous White Australia policy. Increased Asian immigration saw food choices diversify, in restaurants and in retail outlets. More

1972 Atkins diet

Introduced in the book Dr Atkins Diet Revolution, the Atkins diet promised people they could lose weight while eating as much meat, cheese, cream, eggs and other low-carbohydrate foods as they liked. The Atkins diet was endorsed by celebrities and departed from traditional nutritional advice to reduce fat.  It changed the way many people ate, by rejecting even “complex carbohydrate” foods such as bread, pasta and rice.

1972 Be Bold with Bananas

Be Bold with Bananas cookbookThe National Library of Australia has this publication dated at 1972, although other sources are less certain of the date. This book, distributed in Australia by the Banana Growers Association, is a collector’s item. It’s best known for the infamous Banana Candle recipe – essentially a banana inserted vertically in a pineapple ring, drizzled with mayonnaise and topped with a slice of cherry (see below). More

1972 Cadbury Schweppes buys Tarax

Cadbury Schweppes buys TaraxThe last major Australian-owned soft drink brand, Tarax,  was bought by Cadbury Schweppes in 1971. In 2009 Cadbury Schweppes Australia sold its drinks operations (Schweppes Australia) to Japanese drinks giant, Asahi Breweries.

1972 Red Rooster founded in WA

Original Red Rooster logoThe Aussie-owned fast food chain began in Western Australia.  Originally a family business, Red Rooster was acquired, and the chain expanded, by Coles Myer. Along with two other chicken brands it is now owned by Australian private equity firm Archer Capital, via its investment in the company Craveable Brands (or as they self-consciously style it, craveable brands.). More

1971 First Australian McDonald’s opens in Sydney

First Australian McDonald's - Image sourced from http://www.skyscrapercity.com

First Macca’s, Yagoona

The first Australian McDonald’s opened in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona 16 years after the company was founded in the USA. It was followed by several other Sydney stores and, in 1973, by one in Springvale Road in Melbourne. The original Yagoona store closed in 1994. The Springvale Road building was demolished in 2016, to be replaced by an updated McDonalds.


1970 Pizza Hut launches in Australia

Pizza Hut - Image from pastlivesofthenearfuture.wordpress.com

Pizza hut building Belfield

The first Australian Pizza Hut opened in Belfield, Sydney in April 1970.  The building (shown here) was most recently a Korean restaurant with the red roof painted green, but in early 2018 was demolished, to be replaced by a mixed-use development. The brand has grown to have around 380 stores in Australia and New Zealand. Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza restaurant company with more than 13,000 restaurants in over 97 countries.


1971 Smoked oysters fall from grace

The movie Stork made smoked oysters socially unacceptable 1971 was the year when smoked oysters  became socially unacceptable. Playing Stork in the eponymous movie, actor Bruce Spence single-handedly destroyed the smoked oyster’s social status by extracting one from his nose at a cocktail party.


1970s Permaculture concept developed

First permaculture bookThe permaculture philosophy of farming and sustainable living was developed by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem in Tasmania. It grew out of an increasing interest in biodynamic and organic farming during the 1960s and 1970s. Their first book, Permaculture One, was published in 1978.

1970s Counter cultural revolt

Whole Earth Catalogue embraced during by counter cultural activistsIn the late ‘60s and early ’70s, the counter cultural revolt railed against everything that symbolised the industrial state. It included a new politics of food, involving macrobiotics, Wendell Berry, the Whole Earth Catalogue and dreams of living on communes.

1970 Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook

Australian Women's Weekly CookbookThe first edition of the classic Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook was published in 1970, heralding a new era of international cookery in Australia.  Edited by Ellen Sinclair, it featured tested recipes that were accessible to the home cook.  More