January 26 is Australia Day and marks the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet as they claimed sovereignty of our land for Great Britain in 1788. For some it’s a celebration, while for others it’s something else entirely. Our Australia Day history is celebrated in typical Australian summer style with bar-b-que lunches at homes, parks and beaches with family and friends or by attending a sporting event or music festival. In the evening we like to head to a restaurant and eat a great meal, enjoy a drink or two and watch the fireworks light up the sky. Official awards are distributed throughout communities all over the country, citizenship ceremonies take place welcoming the newest members of Australia’s family and on Australia Day Eve the Australian of the Year Awards are announced and presented by the Governor-General and Prime Minister.
Despite British settlement taking place way back in 1788, the journey to officially acknowledging the day nationwide as Australia Day was a long one. January 26 was first celebrated in New South Wales in 1804 and was known as ‘Landing Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’ but it wasn’t until 1818 that Governor Macquarie declared it a public holiday. In 1888, representatives from the other states, as well as New Zealand, arrived in Sydney to celebrate the centenary. It was called ‘Anniversary Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’ and it was the first time the whole country had come together to celebrate. In 1931, the Victorian government officially made January 26 a day of celebration and by 1935 all of the other Australian states and territories had followed suit.
The National Australia Day Committee was formed by the Federal Government to coordinate Australia-wide celebrations in 1979 and eventually became the National Australia Day Council in 1984. On the bi-centenary in 1888, Australia celebrated its national day on January 26 rather than the closest Monday as had become tradition. However celebrations were overshadowed when the Aboriginal community renamed Australia Day to ‘Invasion Day’. Despite the long and rich history of Australia Day to this point, it wasn’t until 1994 that it became a public holiday always held on January 26 rather than the closest Monday. This allowed all Australians to celebrate in their own unique ways.
As it is with most Aussie traditions, food has been an important component of Australia Day history. As Australia was discovering and nurturing it’s own sense of identity – breaking away from Colonial rule in 1901 and becoming the modern Australia we know and love today – we began to develop our own foods that have become synonymous with what it means to be Australian. Some of the more famous examples include:
- Anzac biscuits – Made by wives and girlfriends during World War I, Anzac biscuits were sent to their husbands and boyfriends fighting on the battlefields around the world. They’re famous because the ingredients (rolled oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup, butter, bicarb of soda and water) kept for long periods of time, so they didn’t go off as the boats carrying them sailed to far off countries for weeks at a time.
- Weet-Bix – “Aussie kids, are Weet-Bix kids…” …it doesn’t get any more Australian than that. This breakfast cereal has been a favourite of Australian families since 1930 and it won’t be going away any time soon.
- Lamingtons – The ‘National Cake of Australia’ is a square shaped sponge cake with a chocolate icing and coconut topping. For an extra touch of fanciness, some lamingtons come with cream or strawberry jam running through the middle! Walk into any café and lamingtons will be taking pride of place in the display cabinet.
- Aussie barbeque – Families fire up their backyard bar-b-ques right across Australia on Australia Day every year. But if the sun is out and there’s some warmth in the air, chances are a range of meats will be sizzling away from lunchtime, through the afternoon and into the evening on any day of the year. Snags (sausages), lamb chops and steaks are typical favourites and no bar-b-que would be complete without a selection of delicious seafood.
- Pavlova – There’s nothing more Australian than stealing something from New Zealand and claiming it as our own, right? Russell Crowe, Crowded House and Phar Lap are all considered Australian, despite being born and bred across ‘the ditch’. While the origins of the Pavlova can be debated long and hard, this scrumptious meringue-based dessert, decorated with whipped cream and fresh fruit is now a staple of Australian celebratory meals.
- Tim Tams – The numbers tell the story of how much Australians love Tim Tams. We eat 35 million packs a year containing 400 million biscuits. That’s over one and a half packs for every man, woman and child in Australia every year! Two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, a layer of light chocolate filling in between and coated in melted chocolate…does it get any better than that?
- Meat pies and sausage rolls – Growing up, meat pies and sausage rolls were the staple tuck shop lunches for school children right around the country. People will argue the ingredients of a meat pie without ever really knowing what’s inside, while sausage meat wrapped inside puff pastry (the sausage roll) is quintessential Australian fare.
- Vegemite – If you’re Australian then you’ll absolutely love this yeast extract based spread but if you’re not then chances are you hate it.
Lantern Club is celebrating Australia Day food all week from the 25th through to the 31st of January. Our special menu includes everything fair dinkum Aussies love including meat pies, lamingtons and pavlova; as well as share dishes featuring slow-cooked lamb roast, prawn buckets and a massive 1kg Aussie T-bone steak.
As with any limited-time offer, bookings will fill up quickly! Contact Reception by calling (02) 8037 8200 or filling out our online booking request form.
We look forward to greeting you at Lantern Club in Roselands. Bring family and friends and reflect on what this country has achieved and how we can make Australia an even better place for the future…all while eating some of Australia’s favourite foods.
© Lantern Club, Roselands