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.

LAMINGTONS! - An Australian mother's lament over the annual Lamington drive

Australian Women's Weekly

14 April 1971

Oh, the horror of having to mix, dip, roll, and pack dozens of those chocolate-covered aversions, says Queensland reader THERESE BAKER, writing about one of those crosses that mothers of schoolchildren have to bear - catering for a tuck shop.

Australian Women's Weekly - 14 April 1971


CHILDREN were back to school. It was peace

at last. On with all the jobs that had been put off for the previous hectic six weeks. Marvellous amount achieved first day.

Second day, I was well and truly into the swing of it, window cleaning, floor scrubbing, shampooing carpets. Chores were being completed in record times.

In the afternoon, the girls home from school. "Mum, note for you," piped up the eldest. Note, indeed. More like a guided missile with primed warhead.

''Attention, mothers. First meeting to be held Wed., 9 a.m. Important. Please attend."

I went into shock. The duster fell from my palsied hand, I sank into the nearest chair, thoughts racing. I rapidly calculated the number of meetings and functions I would have to survive before the relief of the next Christmas vacation. The answer was: Far too many.

Wednesday morning dawned. Brightly shined, I presented myself at The Meeting. Many mothers were already occupying the choicest chairs - those nearest the exit. An air of pessimism permeated the gathering. A hush descended. The Take-Charge Corps had arrived. They actually appeared to bristle with bright ideas for raising money.

Top of the agenda was election of officers. After an hour of pleas, promises of assistance, checkmates, stalemates, officers were elected, the women concerned having accepted nomination so as to enable us eventually to leave for home some time that day.

I had served as an officer for the previous 12 months, and being a human wailing-wall for such a period is all anyone can be expected to endure.

"The meeting will now come to order" - a directive, of course, that went unheeded. Five minutes later, during a lull in the conversation. Mrs. New President leapt into the void to call for fund-raising ideas. Out of all the babble came this nerve-shattering idea: 

Lamington drive.

My hair stood straight on end - no mean feat, as I was wearing a wig. I controlled an impulse to bolt while there was still time. Mothers sat shocked, unable to utter a word. This was immediately taken as acceptance, moved, seconded, and recorded in the minutes before we regained possession of our vocal abilities.

Mrs. Blah as usual took charge, dividing up willing and unwilling mothers into the following groups: Mixers, dippers, rollers, makers of tea, deliverers, orderers, cleaner-uppers, paper cutters, marker-outers.

Fingers felt sticky already

She also suggested and accepted dates and times, even I though they happened to be the two days immediately before the Easter weekend, a hectic enough time with- out a lamington drive.

I, among many others, still could not speak. Already our fingers felt sticky. Some mothers were so adversely affected as to be picking imaginary strands of coconut from their skirts, while others began nervously digging crumbs from their pockets.

I managed a few furtive glances at my shoes. Was it imagination, or were they really streaked with brown? Or was it the remains of last year's chocolate icing?

Shades of our last lamie drive. Will I survive?

Yes, we would, according to Mrs. Blah, as she-recited our battle cry, "Rally round the tuckshop," this being our incentive to keep going in the face of morning teas, fetes, barbecues. 

Hours later, or so it seemed, "meeting closed" resounded through the room. Visions of film evenings, hot dogs, cordial, little sandwiches by the dozens still dancing before me, I made my way home to the comfort of a strong cup of tea.

There's another mothers' meeting over. Two weeks to stark-raving day, when I'll once again mix, dip, roll, pack dozens of coconut - covered aversions (lamingtons), despite overwhelming odds, heat, rheumatic fingers, numb feet, innumerable snags, wrong orders, not enough cake, too much icing, not big enough, too big, too wet, too dry.

But we'll win through, and live to fight another day, always with the thought that for each completed lamington, we are that much closer to our Utopia - er, tuckshop.

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