The Great Australian Lamington

The Great Australian Lamington
Lord Lamington Governor of Queensland - creator of the world-famous Australian Lamington.

The Humble Australian Lamington - Created in Queensland in 1901

Australian Lamington

The world-famous Australian lamington is over a century old.

Despite some dubious claims from New Zealand, the lamington is as Australian as meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, ranking alongside the other true Australian icons of the pavlova, peach melba and Vegemite.

This Australian culinary icon, which consists of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with fine desiccated coconut, was created through an accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the thoroughly-British eighth Governor of Queensland.

The maid-servant was working at Government House in Brisbane when she accidentally dropped the Governor's favourite sponge cake into some melted chocolate.

Lord Lamington was not a person of wasteful habits and suggested that it be dipped in coconut to cover the chocolate to avoid messy fingers.

Paul Tully celebrates
the 100th anniversary
of the world renowned
Australian lamington
on 19 December 2001
Lord Lamington devoured this new taste sensation with great delight and the maid-servant's error was proclaimed a magnificent success by all! The Governor however is on the record as calling them "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits".

Lord Lamington was born in London, England on 29 July 1860 as Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE holding the aristocratic title of Baron Lamington.

He was Governor of Queensland from 9 April 1896 to 19 December 1901.

After leaving Queensland, he went on to become the Governor of Bombay in India for 4 years. He died at Lamington House, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1940.

According to Hansard page 728 at the Australian Constitutional Convention in Canberra on 11 February 1998, Cr Paul Tully, an elected delegate representing "Queenslanders for a Republic" suggested that his extensive research of the Governors of the 6 Australian colonies and states had produced evidence of only "one, single, solitary, positive achievement of any Governor since the First Fleet arrived in 1788" and that was Lord Lamington's contribution to the culinary delights of the Australian nation!

Lord Lamington served Queensland for 5 years but despite all of his colonial, aristocratic pomp and ceremony, the only thing which Charles Wallace Alexander Napier COCHRANE-BAILLIE will ever be remembered for in Australia is the creation of the world-famous lamington.


3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour 1/2 cup milk.

Beat the eggs well, gradually adding the sugar until dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla essence and then stir in the self raising flour and whip the butter into the mixture. Pour the mixture into a cake tin or lamington baking dish and bake in a moderate oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes and then stand for 24 hours preferably in the refrigerator, before applying the icing.

4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons boiling water
3 cups desiccated coconut.

Stir the cocoa and icing sugar vigorously in a large bowl, adding the milk, butter and boiling water, warming the chocolate mixture over a very low heat until it has a smooth creamy texture. Cut the sponge cake into equal squares about 5cm x 5cm and, using a fork or thin skewer, dip each piece into the chocolate mixture ensuring that the mixture is liberally and evenly applied. Dip each piece into the desiccated coconut, allowing the lamingtons to cool on a wire tray for several hours.


© Paul Tully 2009

Do you have an interesting historical anecdote about the Australian lamington?
Please email the Australian Lamington Official Website.

Who invented the world-famous Lamington? - A thickening plot!

Upon further reflection overnight, it seems to me that the lamington could easily have been invented, along with other “dainties,” by Lord and Lady Lamington’s sometime chef de cuisine Mrs. Jones (who was apparently still en poste in August 1899), or else by her successor, the Frenchman Armand Galland, whom they poached from Admiral Pearson after 1898. 

If, as seems to be the general consensus of opinion, we accept the latter view, some clarifying flecks of detail emerge from the brief obituary for Mrs. Cladie Galland, which appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on Saturday June 23, 1934, a notice that bleakly adheres to the bad old habit of talking almost entirely about the subject’s late husband (who died in September 1923 and is buried in the South Brisbane cemetery), and hardly at all about the lady herself:

 “Mrs. Cladie Galland, who died in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital last night, was the widow of the late Mr. Armand Galland, well-known in Brisbane as a chef and wine merchant." 

Mrs. Galland was born in France 68 years ago, and came to Australia in 1897[–98] with her husband, who was then chef to (Rear-)Admiral (Hugo Lewis) Pearson (Commander-in-Chief of the Australian station), in the Royal Arthur (the “Australian” flagship above). 

Mr. Galland afterwards became chef to Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland, but later founded the wine business in Melbourne Street, South Brisbane, at present conducted by his son, Mr. Marcel Galland. During the visit of the present King (George V), then Duke of (Cornwall and) York, to Australia [to open the Federal Parliament in Melbourne, May 1901], Mr. Armand Galland acted as his chef, and went to New Zealand with the Royal party. Mr. Galland also acted as chef for the Prince of Wales during his visit to Queensland (in July 1920). Mrs. Galland leaves one son, Mr. Marcel Galland.” 

What the Courier-Mail does not mention is that after the departure of Lord and Lady Lamington in 1901 and M. Galland decided to go freelance - 

“MONSIEUR Armand Galland (late Chef de Cuisine to his Excellency Lord Lamington) is open for Engagement to do Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, or Dinner Parties, in private houses. Address, 137 George-street, City”

 (Brisbane Courier, Tuesday, July 23, 1901, N.B. No mention of any exciting lamington speciality). 

Ultimately switching to the wine and spirits business in Melbourne Street, M. Galland was some years later (in August 1906) convicted of Sunday trading in the South Brisbane Police Court, and fined £2, with 4s 6d costs. This presumably reflected a degree of Gallic contempt for the local licensing laws. 

If M. Galland had in fact invented the lamington, or claimed credit for it, it is hard to imagine that hugely important detail being omitted from his widow’s obituary, or any ambitious post-Government House advertorial. In 1902 we find him serving as an examiner in cookery at the Technical College (“late chef de cuisine to his Excellency”). 

In July 1906 we find him catering for the Children’s Hospital Benefit Euchre party in the Protestant Hall, and between 1907 and 1909 he evidently enjoyed a cosy relationship with Rex stoves:

“In connection with the late Austral Festival (in Toowoomba) it is announced that Monsieur Galland, adjudicator for the cookery competition, expressed himself highly delighted with the Rex stove used by the competitors” 

(Brisbane Courier, Saturday, November 20, 1909, cfr. Saturday, November 16, 1907). 

Perhaps M. Galland regarded the lamington as beneath his dignity. Certainly we need to know more about the relatively unsung Mrs. Jones.

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