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
Australia’s oldest food society, the Melbourne Beefsteak Club, was founded in May 1886. Members were from business, professional and academic circles. The club based itself on the Beefsteak Club of London, one of the oldest of English clubs, and met on the first Saturday of every month. Its objects were the promotion of good fellowship, and conversation on “things philosophic, literary, musical, artistic and social”. Not to mention indulging in large helpings of red meat. 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, a Queensland society in 1893 and a South Australian one in 1898.
Coca-Cola syrup was invented by a pharmacist, John S Pemberton, in Atlanta, Georgia. It reputedly contained cocaine as well as caffeine and was a syrup, to which the Jacob’s Pharmacy staff added soda. It was sold for 5 cents per glass. The first national bottling agreement for Coca-Cola was signed in 1899. The drink became increasingly popular in Australia after World War II because of its use by visiting US service personnel.
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 established their first irrigation settlement at Mildura in northern Victoria, followed by one at Renmark, South Australia. Initial bumper harvests were followed by hard times as the 1890s depression hit, but the region known as Sunraysia recovered to become the fruit bowl of Australia. More
Brown Brothers trace their origins back to 1885 when John Francis Brown planted 10 acres (4 hectares) of mostly Riesling, Muscat and Shiraz grapes on his property at Milawa, Victoria. They were among the first plantings in the King Valley. From the late 1970s, as the tobacco industry was phased out, more winemakers established themselves in the Valley. More
Although references to gramma squash can be found in Newcastle market reports from the 1850s, the vegetable had almost certainly been grown in Australia decades earlier. The earliest published recipe I can find for gramma pie appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal, Sydney, in 1885. Although it gets a mention in Mrs Beeton’s section on Australian cookery in the 1891 edition, the dish seems to have remained unknown to many beyond the north coast of New South Wales. More
Kangaroo Island in South Australia is believed to be home to the world’s only remaining colony of pure bred Ligurian bees, renowned for the quality of their honey. Bees were brought to the island in 1884 and the island was declared a bee sanctuary the following year. Since then, no other bees, honey or other bee products can be taken to the island. More
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, the 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
A story titled “Life in Australia” was published in Reynolds’s Newspaper in London in 1882. It described the type of fare offered in Melbourne’s sixpenny restaurants, including “Colonial Goose“, a joint of mutton boned, rolled and stuffed like the traditional goose. The writer, a Mr. J. Schleman, described the city as a “working man’s haven”, owing to the ready availability of cheap and varied meals. An extract follows… 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); 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 seeds from Australia. Macadamia nuts are now a $100 million industry in Australia. More