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.

A touch of Fiji with Aussie Lamingtons, Anzac Biscuits, Damper Bread, Iced VoVos and Tim Tams

Chef Seeto takes readers on a culinary journey around the world to discover some of his favourite foods and adapting their recipes with a touch of Fijian flavour. With Australia celebrating its official national day tomorrow, Chef takes a nostalgic trip back home to celebrate Australia Day.

As the only Australian kid of Chinese heritage at my school, I remember the embarrassment of opening my primary school lunch box everyday as the other kids gathered around to see what exotic leftovers mum had packed for me.

My lunch was very different to their cheese and vegemite or peanut butter sandwiches. As soon as I lifted the lid on the plastic box I would cringe to find a bun filled with Chinese red pork, hoisin sauce and lettuce, or even worse, the strong smell of steamed taro cake cooked with dried shrimps, onions and Chinese salami, lup cheong.

It wasn't that I didn't like mum's cooking (she still makes these for me when I go home!), but I was the kid with the weird and smelly lunchbox.

I was more fascinated in what the other kids had in their lunchbox. I soon learned that mum's cooking was in high demand among my classmates compared to their plain sandwiches, so lunchtime was always a serious barter and negotiation to trade my Chinese-made lunch for an Aussie one.

Although the typical Australian dinner back then was generally made up of meat and three vegetables or fish and chips, for a kid of Chinese heritage growing up in Australia, the gastronomic experiences were both intriguing and deliciously tantalising.

Anzac biscuits, 
Iced VoVos and Tim Tams

Australians have a sweet tooth for biscuits like most other countries and three of the classics are creations that every Aussie knows and loves.

Associated with Anzac Day on April 25, the ANZAC biscuit is a crunchy commemoration of the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in World War I.

The ANZAC biscuit was made by wives during the war and sent to soldiers, because the basic ingredients were able to keep for a long time, even on long boat journeys.

When former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd mentioned Iced VoVo in his 2007 election speech, he single-handedly cemented the biscuit's place in Australian folklore.

The wheat-flour biscuit with a strip of pink fondant on either side of raspberry jam and sprinkled with coconut is a sweet, soft and crunchy mouthful. But perhaps the most popular and desired Aussie biscuit is the Tim Tam.

This much loved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate. Tim Tams were not named after a man, but a horse who won the Kentucky Derby race in 1958.

Australians eat more than 400 million Tim Tams a year with nearly 1 in 2 homes having a packet in their cupboard. On sale in Fiji, try a Tim Tam Slam by dunking a biscuit in a mug of hot coffee or chocolate, or bitten of both ends and used it as a straw in a hot beverage? Pure chocolately heaven!

Eating the native animals

On the Fiji flag, the coat of arms has a British lion holding a cocoa pod between its paws. The upper left is sugar cane, upper right is a coconut palm, the lower left a dove of peace, and the lower right a bunch of bananas.

Fijians eat everything on the emblem except the lion and dove, which don't exist in Fiji, but in Australia we do eat both animals on the Aussie coat of arms; the emu and kangaroo!

Both native animals have lean meat that is virtually fat-free and low in cholesterol, and work well when smoked or eaten rare to medium-rare.

Emu and roo make great pizza toppings or served with a sweet fruity sauce as a main meal to balance out their richness. Australian bush tucker cuisine in the desert regions also includes nearly anything with a heartbeat including crocodile, camel (known as beef of the desert!), goanna lizard and even moth larvae known as witchetty grubs.

These fat and juicy caterpillar-looking worms taste like scrambled eggs or peanut butter and are a delicacy of the Aboriginal Australians in the outback.

And before you ask, yes, I have had the displeasure of tasting these grubs while working in the Central Australian desert, and whilst I agree they taste like mushy eggs, the thought of biting the head of this live insect food is enough to make you vomit before you even get to taste it!

Damper Bread

This iconic, cheap Australian food was the staple of workers in the rural districts in days gone by. Originally it was the simplest of recipes.

The soda bread is made from wheat flour, water and a pinch of salt, then baked in the coals of a campfire and eaten with hot tea or a swig of rum.

Similar to a scone, hot damper bread with lashings of fresh butter and jam is one of the cultural foods that is indelibly ingrained into the tastebuds of most Aussie kids.


"Aussie kids, are Weet-Bix kids. Aussie kids, are Weet…Bix…Kids" was a popular advertising jingle that helped to propel and promote this breakfast cereal across Australia when I was young.

Originally invented by an Australian, the high-fibre breakfast biscuit is made from whole-grain wheat has been an Australian food favourite since 1930.

Eaten with milk, some tasty ways to enjoy Weet-Bix is with bananas and honey, pawpaw and yoghurt or just plain milk with a spoonful of sugar or honey.


This tasty cake can be found at most school fairs and is the pride of many a mother's kitchen. The lamington is often referred to as the "National Cake of Australia".

The National Trust of Queensland even named the lamington one of Australia's favourite icons. This square-shaped sponge cake is coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut, and is delicious filled with jam and fresh cream.

Just as upside down cake or pineapple pie is sold at roadside stalls in Fiji, the Aussie lamington is sold at fundraisers and is a definite addition to any Australia Day dessert menu.

Lamb leg roast

No Australia Day is complete without a roasted leg of lamb. Some might even say that is totally un-Australian not to have lamb on their national day.

Across the country, Sunday lunch is not the same without mum's cooking a lamb roast infused with garlic, rosemary and olive oil that make this piece of meat delicious and tender.

Though its origins are in 15th century Britain, a feast of roast lamb, potatoes, peas and gravy is as Aussie as Vegemite.

The list of classic Aussie foods is endless including meat pies with mushy peas and gravy, hamburgers with beetroot, chicken parmi (parmigiana), the Chiko roll, fairy bread, spag bol (spaghetti Bolognese), barbecue snags (sausages) and of course, Vegemite on toast.

Some are original creations but many are adaptations of foreign cuisines. But that's the beauty of cooking. Why re-invent the wheel when someone else has already done the hard work to create something spectacular.

You just need to add a local touch!

Happy Australia Day to all my Aussie compatriots! It's time to put another shrimp on the barbie.

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