Tea and Damper by A . M. Ebsworth. Image Credit: From Digital Collection of the State Library of Victoria
by Blake Singley,
The first European settlers in Australia used a dizzying array of flora and fauna in their kitchens – but they cooked them in a traditional British style.
The relationship between European settlers and native Australian foodstuffs during the 19th century was a complex one.
While the taste for native ingredients waxed and waned for the first century of European settlement, there’s ample evidence to demonstrate that local ingredients were no strangers to colonials’ kitchens or pots.
British settlers needed to engage with the edible flora and fauna of the continent almost immediately upon arrival.
The journals of First Fleet officers record not only their reliance on native food, but the relish with which they enjoyed it.
For example, First Fleet surgeon George Worgan noted in his diary a feast held to celebrate the King’s birthday:
We sat down to a very good Entertainment, considering how far we are from Leaden-Hall Market, it consisted of Mutton, Pork, Ducks, Fowls, Fish, Kanguroo, Salads, Pies and preserved Fruits.