Recipes of the Bush
“Damper and Mutton”
“Tea and Damper” by A . M. Ebsworth. From Digital Collection of the State Library of Victoria.
Following a previous blog post, we have tried to find a few examples of recipes from the gold rush period of our History. Robyn Annear (Nothing But Gold, 1999), says that one who lived through it called the early years of the Gold Rush (1851-1853) the “damper and mutton stage of the colony”. The foods most readily available were sheep (mutton) from the squatters and flour, sugar, tea and dried fruit as these would not go off quickly. This brings us to our first recipe – damper.
Damper and its variations.
This explanation is from James Bonwick, quoted in Nothing but Gold (1999);
Taking a washing tin dish, and clearing off the dirt a little, six or eight pannicans of flour are thrown in; a half table spoonful of carbonate soda, the like quantity of tartaric acid (together these are Baking Powder, sort of), and a spoonful of salt are then mixed together in a pannican and then well mingled with dry flour. Water is then poured in, the whole thoroughly knuckled, rolled into a good shaped loaf, and tumbled at once into the warmed camp oven. Fire is applied beneath and a couple of hours or less will turn out a loaf fit to be set before a queen.
The Woman of the Hill part 3.
Jenni enjoying a lighter moment from her stay
Our intrepid volunteer, Jenni Fithall, has completed her three days and two nights living in one of the cottages at Sovereign Hill Outdoor Museum. During her stay approximately 3800 visitors, including about 1500 school children came to Sovereign Hill. Many of these visitors and children visited Jenni in her cottage, so apart from living as a woman of the 1850s, Jenni also had to contend with a multitude of questions, photo opportunities and a constant stream of people walking through her little two room cottage. Continue reading
The Night We Made the Flag: A Eureka Story
The Night We Made the Flag by author Carole Wilkinson is a historically based story about the night the Eureka flag was made on the Ballarat goldfields. It is beautifully illustrated by Sebastian Ciaffaglone. The book has lovely end covers depicting the Southern Cross in the night sky, like the constellation that inspired the design of the flag.
Background to Women’s Fashion in the 1850s
During the Gold Rush in Victoria most new immigrants arrived from Great Britain: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They brought their ideas about dressing and fashion with them, and consequently many clothes in Victoria during 1850s follow the same lines as their British cousins.
Laundry in the 1850s
This will be the first in a series of posts about the Household Arts of the 1850s. If you have a topic you’d like us to cover, please leave a comment or contact us!
Student trying old washing methods at Sovereign Hill
Tools for doing the laundry in the 1850s
In the days before electricity and washing machines, doing the laundry was a time consuming and physically demanding job. During the early gold rush days new arrivals had to carry any washing tools they wanted all the way to the diggings. Consequently many diggers didn’t enjoy the luxury of properly washed clothes.
Well written and accurately researched historical fiction can provide a useful window into the past and an accessible entry into another time for students (and for teachers!).
One such historical novel we love here at Sovereign Hill is Bridie’s Fire by Melbourne author Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin, 2003).
Bridie's Fire published by Allen and Unwin
With Book Week upon us, we thought a book suggestion would be appropriate. One of the Notable Picture Books in this year’s Children’s Book Council Awards was Queen Victoria’s Underpants – by Jackie French and Bruce Wheatly.
Published by Harper Collins
In the early years of schooling the study of history is often about children noting simple differences between today and the past. During Book Week we are running an activity for early year’s students using this book and we have found it to be a great conversation starter. The story provides a great opportunity to discuss differences in clothing and lifestyle and the reference to underpants is always enjoyed and often prompts lively conversation.
One of the most interesting ways to study a period of history is to look at the life of a real person, especially when that person is a colourful character whose life is so full of stories and scandals that they almost seem a work of fiction. Lola Montez was one such person.
Lola Montez at Sovereign Hill