Colonial eating habits
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Colonial Eating Habits. From Stew to Stir Fry. Colonialisation 1788. January 26 th First Fleet arrive in Australia. Some of the supplies that arrived with the first fleet: flour , salt, chickens, goat, cows, sugar, crop seeds (e.g.. maize), pigs, sheep, tea, rum.

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Colonial eating habits

Colonial Eating Habits

From Stew to Stir Fry

Colonialisation 1788
Colonialisation 1788

  • January 26th First Fleet arrive in Australia.

  • Some of the supplies that arrived with the first fleet: flour, salt, chickens, goat, cows, sugar, crop seeds (e.g.. maize), pigs, sheep, tea, rum.

  • Not many of them knew anything about farming, this meant everyone lived on rations for the first 3 years.

  • Many of the first crops failed.

  • Farm Cove where the botanic gardens now stand.

  • They were poor fishermen and didn’t know much about the native plants and animals.

  • Many of the first settlers suffered from scurvy which is from not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables.

The diet
The Diet

  • The diet consisted of very few fresh fruit or vegetables and very little fresh meat.

  • The types of methods used for preserving the food included: Smoking, pickling, salting and preservation. (no fridges or electricity)

  • They often ate jerky (dried meat), bread, stew, birds and when the crops didn’t fail they would have potatoes, onions, corn, gruel (leftovers soup).


  • Colony was well established and the diet had improved, with crops being harvested seasonally.

  • Cattle and sheep herds had been bred, increasing the colonies supply of fresh meat and milk, as well as providing wool for clothing.

  • They were also able to catch fish, crabs and turtles.

  • They were not as dependant on trade and supply ships and had learnt some of the ways of the Aborigines.

  • Food was kept safe from flies and other animals by using meat safes or drip safes. This did not prolong the life of the food.

1901 federation
1901 - Federation

  • By 1901 Australia was the biggest meat eating nation in the world, eating mainly mutton (older sheep).

  • They still ate very traditional English meals of shepherds pie, cottage pie, meat and three vegetables for dinner.

  • Food was more readily available with the majority of people no longer needing to grow their own food, instead going to the butcher or the green grocer's, tinned food was also available.

  • People still did all their cooking at home with richer families having servants to do their cooking and cleaning.

1915 1925

  • The First World War had started and everything was rationed from food to petrol.

  • Ice Chests had started to appear in family homes.

  • The rations depended on what was available, which varied from town to town.

  • Women spent most of their time preparing the meals at home and sending packages to the troops in the war.

  • Staple foods were rationed in bulk e.g. flour, sugar, salt.

1925 1938 the great depression
1925-1938 The Great Depression

  • At the end of the 1920s the whole world started to enter the great depression.

  • For many families money was very scarce and a lot of foods became less available.

  • People took to eating rabbits as they were a cheap option for meat and also easy to catch.

  • Meals were very simple and diets were very nutrient poor.

  • People suffered from many nutrient related diseases such as ricketts which is caused from a lack of Vitamin D, that is found in eggs and milk.

1940 s world war 2
1940’s World War 2

  • Food on the ration: rabbit, sausages, lamb was cheaper than beef, bread, fruit: oranges, apples and bananas.

  • Milk and white loaf bread delivered daily by horse and cart.

  • Vegetables available usually peas, pumpkins, potato, onion, cauliflower, cabbage. Carrots seen as a treat

  • Fish and chips on a Friday catholic tradition.

  • Roast meal on Sunday.

  • People ate at home and were family oriented, no television listened to the radio for night time entertainment.

  • No refrigeration, ice chests still in use

1950 s

  • The 1950s saw an influx of migrants to Australia.

  • This influx of migrants saw an increase in the number of takeaway shops selling food preferred food by the migrants, e.g. pizza.

  • Supermarkets were starting to replace the local green grocers and butchers.

  • Refrigerators were starting to appear in houses.

  • People were also starting to eat out at the new takeaway shops that were popping up in suburbs.

  • Their diet did not vary much from the 1940s, eating Lamb as their main source of meat.

  • With refrigeration now in most homes people could keep milk for days at a time instead of having it delivered everyday.