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.

How to make Australian Koala Bear Lamington Cupcakes

This year may be a little less exciting, who knows. 

But one thing is for sure, the kids and I will have fun making these cute Koala Bear Lamington Cupcakes for a BBQ at some point, on the Australia Day Weekend.

Koala Bear Lamington Cupcakes

Makes 12

1 cupcake packet mixture (or your favourite cupcake recipe)

For the decoration
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 heaped tablespoon of cocoa power
  • Water
  • Desiccated coconut (about 1 cup)
  • 12 Pink Marshmallows
  • 24 choc bits
  • 12 mini chocolate bullets
  • 1 tube black Queens icing writing
  • Mini Australian flags
Make 12 cupcakes

To Make frosting
Combine the icing sugar, cocoa powder, and a few tablespoons of water in a bowl and mix well. In the really warm climbs of Australia, you may want to add a knob of melted butter, so the icing firms up.

To Decorate
  • Place the coconut on a plate
  • Ice the cakes and dip them in the coconut. Set aside. Reserve some icing for the ears.
  • Cut the marshmallows in half to from 24 disks. Dip the edges and back of the marshmallows into the chocolate icing. 
  • Add a few drops of water if the icing is too firm.
  • Dip the chocolate coated edges of the marshmallow into the coconut, being careful not to get the coconut all over the center of the marshmallow.
  • Firmly place the ears onto the cupcakes
  • Use the choc bits to form the bears eyes.
  • Use the mini chocolate bullets to from the bears nose.
  • Use the black icing writing, to finish the eyes and nose as per the photo.
  • Place your mini Australian flags on one of the cupcakes.

Australian basketball star opens up on acclimatising to Baylor as she craves Australian Lamingtons

Freshman guard Kristy Wallace.
Freshman guard Kristy Wallace has been on a wild ride in her transition from high school to college. Many students stay in the same state for college. Some live just two hours down the road from the university they attend and even they start to miss home.

Wallace, on the other hand, moved to the other end of the world in order to pursue her dream. On top of learning a new culture, Wallace was forced to learn an entirely different brand of basketball at a level she had never competed in ever before.

Where exactly is home for you?

I’m from Australia. The state I live in is Queensland, and [the city I live in] is Brisbane, which is kind of like Waco in comparison.

What do you like most about Australia?

I think it’s just a complete different culture [between the U.S. and Australia]. There are a lot of similarities between Australia and America, but there are also a few differences. At the moment, I’m just missing the food from back home. I miss [Australian delicacies like] Vegemite, Tim Tams, Lamingtons, meat pies … that is, if you know what any of those are.

Did you try bringing any food over when you moved?

I did. I definitely tried smuggling some of those over, but my parents do send me some food every now and then.

Has it always been a dream for you to play in America?

Definitely. I think getting an education and playing for some of the best and playing against some of the best players in the world is definitely special.

When did you decide on Baylor?

I didn’t know until the last minute really. I was getting recruited by a few colleges and I basically left it to the last minute to decide where I wanted to go. So, I came here in August and have been loving it ever since.

Was it hard to convince your family about moving all the way to Texas to play college basketball?

Not really. My family kind of encouraged it, especially my dad. He just wants what I want. I told him I wanted to go to America to study and play basketball, and he did everything he could to make that happen. I do miss my family, but they’re happy I’m here.

What are the biggest differences and similarities you see between Australia and what you’ve seen from Waco?

Again, the food’s different. But I feel like Waco is a real community area. Everyone sort of knows each other, and they’re really supportive. So, I really like that about here.

Out of curiosity, do Australian club teams and schools sing the Australian national anthems before all of their sporting events, or is that more of an American custom?

Usually we do, but I feel like it’s more patriotic over here when you guys sing it. Back home we sing it a little bit. We don’t have our hand over our heart like you guys do. It’s just a little more relaxed.

You said you came here in August. Was that your first time in the United States?

I’ve been here earlier for my visits, but that was really only like a two-week window that I got to see five colleges, so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, especially at Baylor. Baylor was my shortest visit of them all. I enjoyed my time and I just had to base my gut feeling on which college I wanted.

Are there any differences in style of basketball that you seen between the United States and Australia?

They are a lot different. We have a 24-second shot clock back home, which is a little bit different, a little bit quicker. The athleticism here, there’s definitely a lot more talent in that sort of area. I think adjusting to that sort of play is different and it took me a little while.

Regarding the process of fitting in with the team, what was that experience like? Was that difficult at first?

Not really. I think they all welcomed me into the team really well as soon as I got here. I consider every one of these girls as my sister. We all get along really well and they treat me great.

Did you expect to be playing this much just into your first year with the team?

Probably not. I didn’t expect to play this much. I think it’s a real privilege and a good opportunity to show what I’ve got and make as much contribution to the team as I possibly can. I’m really thankful for that and looking forward to the few years to come.

Was the Big 12 championship something you expected this year?

No, definitely not. I don’t think anyone did.

Have you learned anything from your teammates?

Yeah, I’ve learned a lot. Just in different situations, how to handle what we’re going through at that time. Each of these players have really helped me get through difficult times. Being homesick is another thing. They’ve really helped get past that.

Have you ever met anyone quite like Kim Mulkey? What’s that relationship like?

*chuckles* I mean, it’s a different relationship. I think that she pushes us so hard, and expects so much of us that I think sometimes it’s frustrating for some of us that we can’t meet those expectations. But I think it makes us better people and better players as well.

Do any of your teammates do “fake Australian accents”?

*chuckles* A few of them do.

Who’s got the best one?

I think Edsel [Hamilton] is the best. He’s one of our assistant coaches. Everyone is pretty terrible though.

Are you glad you chose to be a Lady Bear?

Definitely. Very glad of my decision.

Making Lamingtons the easy way.

Tea and lamingtons.

There's a reason this recipe is an Aussie classic - serve these lamingtons and you'll see why!

Recipe by Katrina Woodman.

Photography by Cath Muscat.


125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup milk
2 cups desiccated coconut

3 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
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Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 3cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm (base) lamington pan. Line with baking paper, leaving a 2cm overhang on all sides. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture may curdle).

Step 2
Sift half the flour over butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside overnight.

Step 3
Make icing: Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add butter and boiling water. Stir until smooth.

Step 4
Cut cake into 15 pieces. Place coconut in a dish. Using a fork, dip 1 piece of cake in icing. Shake off excess. Toss in coconut. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray. Repeat with remaining cake, icing and coconut. 

Stand for 2 hours or until set. 


HelloFresh Australia Chief Executive Tom Rutledge hails new food order of Lamingtons!

Tom Rutledge.
TOM Rutledge, chief executive of HelloFresh Australia, reveals his highs and lows of dining.

Best recent dining experience: Nomad, Sydney — its pig-ear sambo and Middle Eastern steak tartare are highlights.

Must-buy ingredient:Lemons! I buy them compulsively. A lemon is a marinade, a salad dressing, and a good friend of gin.

Most embarrassing pantry item:We have a lot of noodles in our pantry. Of the two-minute variety, but I’m actually quite proud of the collection so I’d have to nominate weevils instead.

Can’t live without:Chilli. I put it on everything. I’m especially fond of shichimi togarishi, the Japanese chilli powder.

What I’m cooking at home: A lot of cauliflower. It roasts well with za’atar for a salad and the couscous version is a revelation.

Lamingtons: Making a
cultural comeback in
Next big thing:I predict a re-emergence of 1970s and 80s Aussie suburban fare. The Australian Women’s Weekly will become a weekly once more with a meal planner. 

Goodbye cultural cringe, hello tinned pineapple rings and lamingtons.

I hate: Turkey breast meat. It’s such boring and uninspiring stuff.

Favourite cuisine:Christmas! Ham, prawns, stuffing, mince pies, brandy butter, cheese, egg nog, turkey sausages, mulled wine, smoked salmon, cumberland sauce. And more cheese. Such fare is likely the reason we only get one Christmas a year. We’d all be dead if it came around more often.

Worst meal I ever ate:I’ve repressed most memories from my half-decade at boarding school. Sausage-skin curries feature highly on the trauma scale but they’re eclipsed by offal jamborees masquerading as goulash.

Biggest culinary influence: Jamie Oliver. I was given his first book when I was still at school.
It was a revelation because all of a sudden cooking seemed like a respectable pastime for a young bloke. The recipes were both achievable and interesting.

Favourite cookbook: I really like Frank Camorra’s books — there’s a tale for everything. I’m currently trundling through Movida Solera. It makes me nostalgic for Andalusia where I’m yet to even go.

My last supper: Paté. Jamon. Sausages. Lamb cutlets. Mac cheese. Lemon delicious and stilton for pudding. I’d have the prison warden serve buttery chardy, Barolo, and a splash of Amaro as well.

HelloFresh is a weekly food box service delivering recipes and ingredients to your home.

Very easy Australian Lamington recipe

Australian Lamington.
Lamington Recipe

Create your very own, simple to make lamingtons with this easy to follow 20 step recipe.

Severing size: 24 pieces

Ingredients for Cake:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 of cup milk
Ingredient for Icing:
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup of sifted cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup of warm milk
1 pound unsweetened & dried coconut

Cooking Instruction:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Grease & flour a 8×12 pan
Sift the flour, baking powder & salt together and set aside
Beat 1/2 cup of butter & 3/4 cup of sugar with an electric-mixer and in a very large bowl until light & fluffy. Note: This mixture should be noticeably lighter in colour.
Add eggs, one at a time and allow each egg to blend right into the butter mixture and then add the next.
Now beat in vanilla with the very last egg.
Pour in the flour-mixture alternately with milk, mixing until incorporated.
Pour this batter into your prepared pan
Bake in preheated oven until the toothpick inserted into this cake comes out very clean, 30 to 40 minutes should suffice
Allow it to stand for 5 minutes & then turn-out onto the wire rack & cool it completely.
Wrap with a plastic wrap & store it overnight at room temperature to give this cake the chance to firm-up before slicing.

Icing Method:
In a large bowl, combine all the confectioners’ sugar & cocoa
Now add the melted butter & warm milk & mix them well to create a fluid (not too runny) icing.

Final Steps of the lamington making process…
Cut the sponge cake into 24-squares.
Place the parchment paper/ waxed paper on the work surface
Set the wire rack on this paper
Pour out the shredded coconut into a small shallow bowl
Use a fork, and dip each square into this icing, coating all the sides
Roll them in the coconut
Place onto rack to dry
Continue the process till all the lamingtons are coated.
Why Australia Consumes
Tons of Lamingtons,

July has just gone past, but there was something special about it in Australia… The Lamington Day! Though lamingtons are an all-time favourite in the land Down Under, they are equally loved the world over. 

This culinary icon has been named after Lord Lamington, who was the 8th Governor of Queensland. On 19 Dec 2001, the lamington turned a century old but it retains its youthful flavour to this day.

The true Australian treat

Sure, there are some who will claim that New Zealand is the creator of the lamington but that is not much more than hogwash. The lamington was and is as Australian as Vegemite, Pavlova, Peach Melba and kangaroos are. Not that it needs any introduction, but a lamington is a sponge cake that has been dunked in chocolate and then sprinkled very liberally with fresh, desiccated coconut.

Just like many other great discoveries, this too was created by accident by a maid-servant who worked for Lord Lamington. Regardless of whether you like the classic version or prefer a culinary mash-up, the lamington is delicious to its “jammy” core.

How to make it taste even better

Creating the perfect sponge

Some expert bakers say that the secret to a perfect sponge is to ensure that the batter is mixed in a single direction and that you keep as much air inside it as possible, that’s the way to get the sponginess right. Those who are not so purist will also make a lamington with a butter cake or a mud cake for chocolate creations that are definitely more sinful.

To jam or not to jam…

Many bakers will not use jam in the lamingtons as they feel that it ruins the subtle flavour of the sponge. On the other hand, some feel that this treat does well with the little surprise quotient that the jam centre provides. If you are experimenting, you can try using marmalade, citrus curd, blackberry or cherry jam. Some home bakers also replace the desiccated coconut with shredded coconut. This covers up any imperfections in shape and it tastes delicious too.

Getting the coconut just right

Those who do not like the rawness of desiccated coconut can toast the shredded coconut and then use that for rolling the lamingtons. Those who want to go a little quirky with their cooking can also use macadamia nuts and other seasonal ingredients like mango to stud their creations. If you are using fruits in it, then keep in mind that you will have to adjust the recipe of the sponge itself.

Helpful Tips:
Before you dunk the lamingtons in the chocolate, add the jam and then stick them in the freezer- this helps them retain their shape. But if you have used butter in your recipe, skip the freezing step… it will ruin the texture of the sponge.

For the icing, you can use ganache or hot icing mixture and it sets almost instantaneously in the latter. If you have a bakery, it’s a good idea to have a production line while the lamingtons are being assembled. That’s the best way to get the timing right.

Once the coated sponge has been rolled in the desiccated/shredded coconut, simply pop the lamingtons into the freezer again.

And some more…

For those who are allergic to gluten, some skilled experimental bakers also use flour substitutes like tapioca, rice and chickpea as well as a little potato starch. There really are no limitations to the number of flavours you can use while you are making these delectable morsels. Bakers across Australia set different variants of lamingtons on their bakery shelves and patrons keep coming back for more.

All of this is probably why Australians consume tons of lamingtons.

Recipe for classic Australian Lamingtons

Any type of plain cake can be used for these lamingtons - sponge cake, pound cake or Madeira cake. 

Ideally, make the cake the day before for best results, but the important thing is that the cake is completely cooled before icing.

Serves: 24 

2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
125g butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
500g desiccated coconut for rolling
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Preparation: 45min
Cook: 40min 
Ready in: 1hour 25min
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

Cake: Grease and flour a 20x30cm rectangular cake tin or lamington tray. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and beat well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin or lamington tray and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let stand 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Store overnight to give the cake a chance to firm up before icing.

Icing: In a large bowl, combine icing sugar and cocoa. In a saucepan, heat milk and butter until the butter is melted. Add the milk to the sugar mixture and mix well to create a fluid icing that is not too runny.

Place coconut in a shallow container.

Cut the cake into 24 squares. 

Using a fork, dip each square completely into the icing, then roll it in the coconut. Place onto rack to dry. Continue for each piece. 

The icing will drip, so place a sheet of baking paper under the rack to catch the drips.

Boutique Australian camping - Lamington National Park, named after the creator of the Australian Lamington

Lord Lamington after whom
Lamington National Park
is named.
Nightfall Wilderness Camp – Lamington National Park, Queensland

Named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland 1896 - 1901.

Only six guests at a time can stay at this carbon-neutral rainforest retreat on the edge of World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park, 45 minutes from the Gold Coast. 

Each of the three architect-inspired safari tents is the epitome of sustainable chic with king-sized bed, fireplace, rain shower, vintage-tin bath and organic toiletries. 

There's also a camp-kitchen and seasonal, local and organic meals served in the Nightfall lounge or by candlelight beside Christmas Creek. 

Tents from $345 a night including organic breakfast (opening special until February 2015). 

Mitchell Bakery wins best Lamington award on the Darling Downs

FLOUR and Bean Bakery in Toowoomba has taken out the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland King of the Bakers.

The bakery also won most successful bread exhibitor, the regional bread award and the regional shield.

The Toowoomba Royal Baking Show saw independent bakeries compete against Woolworths and Coles bakers from across Queensland with medals and major prizes awarded across 41 categories.

More than 450 breads, cakes, pies, sausage rolls, macarons and hot cross buns were put under the microscope during a frantic day of judging.
Southern Cross Baking Group
president Brett Noy inspects entries
 at the bread show at Toowoomba

Southern Cross Baking Group president Brett Noy inspects entries at the bread show at Toowoomba Showgrounds.

Born and Bread Bakery in Toowoomba won most successful cake exhibitor and the regional bread cake award.

They also took out champion load of the show with a 1800g white married loaf.

Yeast 2 West Bakery at Longreach won the best speciality bread with a traditional sourdough.

Antony's Bakery and Patisserie Toowoomba won the best commercial bread of the show as well as taking out the inaugural macaron award.

The best lamington was again won by Mitchell Bakery.

Woolworths at Springwood won the best hot cross buns.

Blackbutt Bakery won the best pie award while Westbrook on the Rise won the best sausage roll.

Lamingtons - a truly Australian treat - with recipe

Vancouver baker Jackie Kai Ellis shares
 here recipe for an Australian
 treat, Lamingtons.
I have an intense affinity for those recipes so ingrained in a cultural identity that every citizen and their descendants hold a passport to the dish. 

The requirements for entry are only their mouths and their fondest memories of it.

Learning about the Australians love for the lamington can only be akin to Canadians love for the chocolate chip cookie. The best? 

The one mom made of course, whether it be chewy, cakey, crispy, milk or dark.
In the case of lamingtons, the most debated variations seem to be: Jam or plain in the middle? Butter or sponge cake?

If I were a purist, I would surely ask Lord Lamington, a former governor of the Australian State of Queensland, his thoughts on the variations.

As for where it came from, the legends are varied from maids accidentally dropping cake into chocolate, to chefs desperately creating solutions for important, unexpected guests.

Regardless of how they came to be, it only needs to be known that they were delightful.


I boldly decided to create an ever so slight variation on the classic. Not to worry as I’ve added notations (*) on how to adjust it to the original, so as to satisfy the longing for nostalgia.

For the genoise cake:

10 tbsp (150 mL) butter

1 tsp (5 mL) real vanilla extract

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

3 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

¼ tsp (2.5 mL) lemon zest (*optional)

1 cup (250ml) cake flour, sifted

1/4 cup (60ml) cornstarch, sifted

¼ tsp fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Grease an 8” x 8” (20.3 x 20.3 cm) pan and line with parchment. Make a beurre noisette by heating the butter in a small saucepan on medium-high heat until it bubbles and turns to a medium brown colour. (Be careful as this burns easily.) Let cool until warm to the touch.

In another small pot, boil water to create a double boiler. In a heatproof mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs and yolks and whisk constantly over the boiling water until the eggs feel warm to the touch.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whisk until the mixture is light yellow and tripled in volume, about 5-7 minutes.

Incorporate the sifted flour and cornstarch in two additions, folding with a large spatula until there are only a few streaks of flour remaining.

Drizzle the beurre noisette into the batter in two additions, folding in well after each one being careful not to deflate the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove from the oven when a wooden tester comes out with a few crumbs remaining. Allow to cool completely.

For finishing:

*I decided to use a thin ganache, as it would provide the most chocolate flavour without being overly sweet. Feel free to use a traditional chocolate icing.

Celebrating long Australian political career with Lamingtons

Former leader of the National Party Doug Anthony
with wife Margot at their farm on the outskirts
 of Murwillumbah in far northern NSW. 
A NOTEWORTHY moment in Australian politics passed virtually without notice in August. At the National Party’s federal council meeting, former leader Doug Anthony received a warm tribute for his years of service to the party and to the country.

A few weeks later, Anthony stepped down from the board of John McEwen House, severing a formal link with the National Party that has existed since the 1950s.

Arriving at Anthony’s farm this week — located on the banks of the Tweed River nestled between the lush rolling green hills of Murwillumbah in the northeast corner of NSW — he greets this city dweller warmly. “Welcome to Sunnymeadows,” he says.

Anthony is one of the grand old men of Australian politics. He turns 85 next month. He served as a minister under six prime ministers. He was deputy prime minister to three of them. He was a tough political operator who fought hard for his party’s agrarian interests. The hallmarks of his career were his down-to-earth style, his integrity and conviction.

“I don’t see the purpose in people remembering me much,” he says with a flash of trademark modesty. “I just liked doing my job. I knew it was time to retire when I did. I wanted to do other things in my life. And now I just love being on my farm.”

Anthony was deputy prime minister to John Gorton and Billy McMahon in the early 1970s and to Malcolm Fraser from 1975 to 1983. He spent 25 separate periods as acting prime minister. Many summers went by “running the country” from a caravan on a block of land at New Brighton.

It is 30 years since Anthony resigned as National Party leader in 1984. He was the youngest leader when he replaced the ageing McEwen in 1971. And he remains the longest-serving post-war leader of the party.

He is the second Anthony in the only three-generation dynasty to serve in the House of Representatives. He succeeded his ­father Hubert (known as Larry) in the seat of Richmond in 1957. His own son, also called Larry, held the seat of Richmond from 1996 to 2004 during the Howard government. All three were ministers.

Before a lunch of ham and mustard sandwiches, fresh fruits from the garden and homemade lime juice prepared by Margot Anthony, we walked around the house and yard. Anthony remembers building their home with a carpenter friend in the mid-1950s.

About 200 cattle graze on the banks of the Tweed River below. There is a tennis court, a pool and a large shed. Anthony points to the cloudy summit of Mt Warning, so named by Captain James Cook, which he climbed as a boy. He remembers backyard parties for campaign workers on election night. Fraser and John Howard have visited.

Hubert, a Gallipoli veteran and farmer, won the seat of Richmond in 1937. He served as a minister in the Fadden government and the two Menzies governments. He died of a brain haemorrhage in 1957. “I had tremendous respect for my father,” Anthony says.

“He taught me to be a good man … I wasn’t involved in politics, other than helping at election time. Going into politics was never mentioned. I think he felt if I wanted to go into politics then I would have to decide that myself.”

Anthony had a profile as a young farmer interested in policy issues. But newly married and with a child on the way, he was reluctant to follow his father into parliament. He was eventually persuaded to stand by several party figures.

“Margot took the view that I should get it out of my system, so I decided to stand,” he says. He won Richmond with 49.82 per cent of the primary vote.

Anthony was no stranger in Canberra, having first visited when he was seven years old. John Curtin read him bedtime stories in the lounge of the Kurrajong Hotel. After school, he would race up to Parliament House. He slipped into the kitchen for cake and sandwiches, mucked about in the PM’s office, talked to the men shovelling coal into the boilers and roller-skated on the lower floors.

The giant political figures of the 1930s and 40s knew young Douglas well. How many people can tell tales about having Parliament House as a playground and knowing Billy Hughes, Joe Lyons, Earle Page, Arthur Fadden, John McEwen, Frank Forde, Robert Menzies and Ben Chifley?

Anthony says his overriding memory of his early years as an MP is being utterly “bored”. There was no burning ambition. No plan to become a minister. No future claim staked on the party leadership.

But in 1964, the phone rang at Sunnymeadows. It was Menzies. “Douglas,” he said, “I would like you to become part of my ministry. How would you like to be Minister for the Interior?” Anthony says he was “flabbergasted” and “could hardly speak”. After he accepted the offer, Menzies said: “Well, that will keep you out of mischief.”

He describes Menzies as “the best prime minister in parliament”. He had a commanding intellect and managed the government well. The interior portfolio was Anthony’s happiest ministerial job. He played an important role in the development of Canberra.

If Menzies had not asked him to become a minister, Anthony says he probably would have called it quits and returned to farming. McEwen was looking to groom leadership successors and no doubt supported his elevation.

“McEwen was the best politician from any party I have ever seen,” Anthony says. “He was shrewd. He never showed any fear. He liked to attack people. But he had great political wit … He was the best of all politicians as far as strategy is concerned.”

In 1966, Anthony became deputy leader of the Country Party. Harold Holt had succeeded Menzies as prime minister. “I liked Harold Holt,” Anthony says. “He was a sensitive person. He tried to do his best. (But) he didn’t like being attacked, being abused, being unpopular.”

He took on the primary industries portfolio in 1967, the most challenging in his ministerial career. Reconstructing rural industries, forging new overseas markets and navigating sectoral politics were often difficult.

Anthony says he was the last politician to see Holt alive. He describes his mood as “gloomy” in late 1967 and burdened by political problems, which led him to take unnecessary risks — a lethal combination in the treacherous surf near Portsea in Victoria.

When Holt vanished, McEwen worked quickly to get himself sworn-in as prime minister and to thwart the ambitions of deputy Liberal Leader McMahon. “We couldn’t stand McMahon,” Anthony says. “He was always cheating on us. Leaking to the media. He wasn’t a faithful colleague to have.” Gorton became prime minister.

In 1971, McEwen resigned and Anthony took the reins of the Country Party. He became deputy prime minister and took on the trade and industry portfolio. A newspaper profile that year described him as “ambitious and ­single-minded”.

Anthony worked well with Gorton. “He was a bit of a wild character but he was a very trustworthy person. I never had any troubles with him.” But Gorton made enemies; he lost the support of his party room and vacated the prime ministership. Anthony is still dismayed the Liberal Party selected McMahon to become prime minister.

The early years of opposition after Labor’s 1972 victory were bleak. Billy Snedden now led the Liberals. But as the Labor government unravelled and public opposition mounted, and Malcolm Fraser became Liberal leader, Anthony was a strong supporter of the strategy to delay supply to force an election.

“I had doubts as to whether our senators would hold,” he says. “I was doubtful the governor-­general would dismiss (Gough) Whitlam. But I was all for the strategy because I thought the quality and standards of the government was not good.”

Whitlam was dismissed on ­November 11, 1975. Fraser led the Coalition parties to three election victories.

“He was an outstanding prime minister,” Anthony says fondly. “He showed tremendous courage. I thought Malcolm during those years was very impressive.”

But Anthony is critical of Fraser’s modern views and his estrangement from the Liberal Party. “I think he hasn’t presented himself as an ex prime minister as well as he should have. He shouldn’t buy into the issues that half his party disagrees with … I wish he wouldn’t do it. He is a friend and it’s not nice to have friends opposed to you.”

Anthony negotiated several important trade deals with the Soviet Union, China and Japan. Along with Peter Nixon and Ian Sinclair, he formed a powerful trio of ministers who found Fraser to be a welcome ally, the so-called “Squire of Nareen”. Fraser’s cabinet was labelled a “farmers’ cabinet”.

He is unforgiving of Britain for selling-out Australia and joining the common market. It is one reason why he is still a republican. “We are living in the past,” Anthony says. “We are a nation in our own right. It won’t happen while Tony Abbott’s there, no way, but it will happen.”

Anthony succeeded in having the Country Party change its name to the National Country Party (1975) and then the National Party (1982). He still supports the idea of merging with the Liberals but sees it as less pressing than it was several years ago given the good relationship between the two parties.

He declines to comment about his six successors as Nationals leader, but does say that Sinclair had the hardest time due to the aborted “Joh for Canberra” campaign in the mid-1980s.

Today he says the Coalition is “going well” and he is “impressed” with Nationals leader Warren Truss.

However, Anthony identifies Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce as a future leader of the party. “I think he’s got a lot of go in him,” he says. “He’s a man who is prepared to look at other ideas. He’s got energy. He’s a goer and that’s what I like about him.”

Following afternoon tea (lamingtons) we head over to the Tweed Regional Gallery. The Anthonys donated land to establish the new gallery and gifted a further parcel to accommodate the Margaret Olley Art Centre, which includes a reconstruction of her Paddington home.

“It’s the best regional gallery in Australia,” Anthony says. Not one to push the notion of legacy, let alone a dynasty, Doug and Margot are nevertheless proud of their role with the gallery.

Before we depart, he urges me to peer through a small gallery window where you can see Sunnymeadows.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

My book club landed a publishing deal - Not another Lamington drive?

Women of letters: (from left) Jane St Vincent Welch,
Denise Tart, Jane Richards, Madeline Oliver and
Jenny Crocker, collectively known as
 the author "Alice Campion".
The first day of a weekend trip to the Blue Mountains. Members of our book club, The Book Sluts (We'll Read Anything), are here to discuss Crime and Punishment, but it is hard to immerse yourself in snow-bound poverty when the sun is shining and you've just had a huge lunch.

"Trans-Siberian railway," quips one Russian-hatted friend as she tops up my vodka. "That's where we should be to discuss this book. All that snow."

"If only," says another, yawning.

"I wonder what that would cost? Ten thousand? Each?"

Someone shuts their book a little too loudly.

"A lamington drive?" calls a voice from the couch.

"Or, we could follow Raskolnikov's example and commit murder for cash?" says the lone voice determined to bring the conversation back to Dostoyevsky.

"Or why don't we just write a best seller?" I say, as I feel the vodka start to kick in. "A romance! Don't Mills & Boon pay thousands?" I am joking but as I look around I can almost hear brains clicking into gear.

Paper and pens are produced, more drinks are poured and a plot begins to thicken amid much laughter.

If only we knew then that our joke project would not just provide raucous entertainment over that weekend, but would also keep us occupied for almost four years, land us a book deal with the world's biggest publisher and spark a bidding war in Germany. But more on that later...

"Okay, Slutskys – what will we write? A romance? A thriller? A whodunit?"

"Nah – a Booker Prize winner," says that voice from the couch again. (There's one in every crowd.)

Romance gets the vote as the genre we are most likely to be able to pull off and the one (we have heard) that offers the greatest possibility of making money.

"Romance it is. So, boy meets girl?"


"Well, what would we all like to read about?" The suggestions come flying.

"Bad sex!" Tick.

"An awkward dinner party!" Tick.

"Good sex!" Tick.

"A cat fight!" Tick.

"A party that ends badly! Tick."

"And there has to be a bitch in it – a real bitch."

"So," says one of us, "does anyone know a real bitch?"

Seven hands shoot up. We all take notes furiously.

Now, names. Our bitch character is easy (it seems everyone went to school with one, and she was called one of only three names). Our heroine, too, practically christens herself, as do our major secondary characters.

But our hero stays "he-who-shall-remain-nameless", until one of us has a brainwave.

"Where are we? Blackheath!" And so Mr Heath Blackett is born.

We are on a roll. Soon we have a serviceable plot, five major characters, and a setting. We are in business.

We go to bed dreaming of roubles.

The next day, we plaster butcher's paper on a wall. We proceed to plot a storyline through a series of scenes – a process we estimate will take two to three hours. Seven hours later we have a rough outline. We are then each given sections to write on our return home.

Our novel idea has begun, albeit slowly. It becomes apparent that it's one thing to dream up a story, but quite another to commit those ideas to paper.

Yet commit we do and soon we are meeting fortnightly, then weekly, in lounge rooms and beer gardens to finesse our story; to build up and tear apart our characters; to debate tenses and which words are "too old" for our protagonists and, of course, to come up with a perfect ending.

When we aren't meeting we are writing, snatching sessions between work and family commitments. It is not easy. There is always something to do, deadlines to meet.

We are all women in our early 50s with careers, families, mortgages and little time for writer's block, and it isn't long before two of our number drop out. And if the rest of us knew then that it would take us almost four years to complete the book, we might have, too. But something – perhaps the fact that every person we tell insists we will never finish the book – drives us on.

Our progress seems painstakingly slow. Our meetings are often broken up with calls from partners asking us to remind them where we had got to, teenagers wanting to know where their socks are, or work colleagues hunting one of us to fill in at the last moment. While we are often forced to multitask - plotting the plot while stirring a pot – we manage. After all, as our first female prime minister said (and if memory serves me she sighed heavily as she said it) – if you want a task done, give it to a busy woman.

Over time, the interruptions become less frequent as our families, friends and colleagues begin to realise we are deadly serious about finishing the book. We even manage a five-day research trip, literally to the back of Bourke.

More months go by, then another year. It becomes clear some scenes are easier to write than others – the bad sex scene for instance. In fact, there are so many excruciating suggestions for this scene that the first writer tasked with tackling it puts her hands over her ears, scarred for life after we pepper her with suggestions.

The good sex scenes are more tricky. No-one wants to put their hand up to write the first one. We all fear the same thing - that our efforts will be greeted with laughter, silence, or, worse still, be mistaken for the bad sex scene! In the end we decide to each write a version anonymously. These will be read and a "winner" voted on. This sounds good in theory but of course we all immediately guess who wrote what, so in the end we use a merged version. Such coyness now seems hilarious as we have become used to blithely serving up a sex scene on request (often with tea and biscuits).

Jokey dialogue will leave us in hysterics for days. Even now, I only have to look at a fellow writing slut across a room and mouth the word "manhood" for us both to crack up.

More months, more meetings, more writing and yet more rewriting, and finally our first draft is complete. We are thrilled - until we read it. Writing a formulaic romance is much harder than it seems. We can't seem to sustain the story beyond boy-meets-girl. We beef up the plot, change the ending and add twists. Before we know it, we have also changed genres. Instead of a pure romance, the book morphs into more of a family saga with a dash of mystery.

Another roadblock happens at the end of the third of our four drafts. We know we have a page-turner, but the book has a major flaw. Our hero again. To say this man is one-dimensional is giving him way too much credit. When he speaks in one scene while among his cattle, we begin to imagine readers preferring to hear from the cattle.

Character assassination is called for. We make him smarter, more creative, give him faults. Suddenly he is sexier, funnier. If only real-life transformation could be this easy.

Five women, four drafts and almost four years later, the book is finally complete. We type 'THE END' back where we started, at the cottage in Blackheath, as we pop champagne.

The manuscript is then sent to our dream publishers. Weeks later, the magic words came down the phone line: "I could not put it down."

Suddenly we have a book deal. Since then we have selected a nom de plume – Alice Campion (Alice for an Australian-sounding name, Campion because it sits in a nice place on the shelves) – finished our final edits and popped more champagne when we heard that two German publishing houses were bidding against each other for the rights. Apparently the Germans love a good outback mystery.

For us, it's now truly a novel with the perfect ending.


How did five writers complete a novel that reads like it's written by one author? This is the question we are asked the most. The answer may sound complicated but is actually quite simple.

We came up with a system that involved each of us completing assigned scenes and then emailing them to each other, to read, mark up, and discuss as a group. Here we would debate whether the story was working, and play "spot the discrepancy".

What worked? What didn't? Would character A really use that language? If character B is drinking tea in scene one, how come she is holding a wine glass in scene two?

We then rewrote each other's scenes so that no one scene was written by just one person. If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, you are right. It was hard at first. There were occasional silences and debate over what was to be cut and what was to stay, but because no one "owned" a particular scene we were able to get past this. The biggest proof lies in the fact that not one of our readers to date has picked it as a group novel.

And what of Alice's future? She is spreading herself rather thinly at the moment. Two new novels and a How to Write Group Fiction e-book are being written by combinations of the five of us.

What was that about busy women?

Jane Richards is a Fairfax journalist. The Painted Sky by Alice Campion (Random House Australia) is out March 2. It will be released in Germany (Ullstein) later this year. See

The Battle of the Lamingtons: Ipswich vs Toowoomba

It started as a world record battle when Ipswich claimed the title of the World's Largest Lamington in 2009 only to be pipped 2 years later by Toowoomba with one twice the size.

Over a week ago Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio scoffed at the announcement that the New York-based American think tank, the Intelligent Community Forum, had ranked Ipswich in the top 7 intelligent communities of the world.

Now with an exchange of ties and lamingtons in Ipswich with Mayor Paul Pisasale, the Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio made an obligatory "mea culpa" and disappeared back to Toowoomba quicker than Paul Pisasale could say: "Have a lamington on us".

Toowoomba and Ipswich mayors Paul Antonio
 and Paul Pisasale trade lamingtons and Ipswich
 City neck ties at a meeting at St Edmund’s
 College in Ipswich on Friday.

We don't hate here anymore.

IF YOU are a regular reader of our sister paper up on the range, you could be forgiven for thinking there was some kind of stoush going on between Mayors Paul Pisasale and Paul Antonio.

The Chronicle didn't take too enthusiastically to the news that Ipswich was recently named among the world's seven intelligent cities - well at least according to American think tank The Intelligence Community Forum, anyway.

What followed was what could only be described as an envy-fuelled attack from our western siblings - a needless put-down on Ipswich in order to prop themselves up - which appeared to backfire.

Unfortunately for the Chronicle, two out of three of its readers who voted in an online poll disagreed that Toowoomba was a smarter city than Ipswich.

Banter aside, the story has at least prompted a pledge from both mayors to work together for the benefit of residents at both ends.

After all, Ipswich and Toowoomba are probably more alike than our country cousins would like to admit.

For all his boasting that Toowoomba is the epicentre of the ever-expanding USQ empire, Cr Antonio also has to concede that his two grandsons, twins Hamish and Campbell Owbridge, are proud students of Ipswich's St Edmund's College.

Both boys were inducted as school captains on Friday, February 13, along with Henry Creamer and Harry Peucher.

"Let's set the scene here," Cr Antonio said.

"We're good mates and we stick by each other. I admire Paul and what he has done and, don't tell anyone, but I've tried to model some of my actions as mayor on what he has done - the way he has lifted the pride."

The Toowoomba mayor remained defiant on which he believed was the smarter of the two cities.

"I thought it was April Fool's Day when the results came through naming Ipswich as the smarter city. We know we are."

Cr Antonio said he was immensely proud of his grandsons and that their intelligence was "genetic and not environmental".

Cr Pisasale said his opposite number was so intelligent that he picked the best school for his grandchildren.

"I went to St Edmund's and I know he wants his grandkids to grow up like me," Cr Pisasale said.

"No matter whether you live in Ipswich or Toowoomba, we would never say that our city seriously is better than any other city.

"What we want to do is to be part of a great state, and we work to make sure our community is the best it can be. The Australian way to do that is through a bit of humour and a bit of fun."

Cracker Lamington Recipe: Chef Simon Webster shares recipe for Lamingtons

Chef Simon's Lamingtons 
Chef Simon Webster owner of Sabor a Pasion Estate and Vineyard, joined us to share a dessert that will impress your guests, but is quite easy to prepare.

Chef Simon's Lamingtons:


1 loaf pound cake

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons milk or water

2 teaspoons vanilla, liqueur or brandy

8 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

Strawberries, edible hibiscus or raspberries, to garnish


Cut the pound cake into 2 inch cubes. 

Combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk or water and vanilla in a bowl and stir to combine. 
Spread the coconut flakes on a plate. Dip the cake cubes in the chocolate mixture and then roll in the coconut. 

Set on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and allow the coating to harden or dry. 

When ready to serve, garnish the cakes with a strawberry or raspberry.

(Edible hibiscus flowers are available at Granny Muffin Wines in Palestine. 903-729-1940)

Recipe by Chef Simon Webster, Sabor a Pasion Estate & Vineyard,, 903-729-9500

World record attempt: A 1km Lamington "snake" in Adelaide to beat British record

Adelaide Convention Centre aims to break British record, baking a 1km snake of 20,000 cakes.

Adelaide Convention Centre apprentice chefs
Ashleigh Moore and Bella Fazzalari testing
 and tasting lamington recipes for
 the world record attempt. 
SWEET victory is in sight for one SA kitchen crew aiming break a world cake record, and knock the Brits off their champion perch.

Adelaide Convention Centre chefs are elbow deep in chocolate and coconut, making and freezing about 1000 lamingtons a day in the lead up to a March 12 world record bid for the longest line of cakes.

“And using lamingtons will put a true Aussie stamp on the record,” said Tze Khaw, who is leading the ACC team.

About 25 chefs and kitchen helpers will make 20,000 lammies to create a kilometre-long cake

which will snake its way through the ballroom, meeting rooms and foyers of the ACC’s new Western Building.

And the 1km lamington trail, which will pip the 885m Brit record, will double as table centrepieces for a major fundraiser, the Longest Lamington Lunch. 

Charitable groups are invited to get involved to raise funds for their cause.

The chefs, complying with strict Guinness World Records Guidelines, estimate it will take 600 hours of work, using more than 400kg of flour, 8kg of baking powder, 360kg of milk chocolate, 220kg of sugar, 550kg of desiccated coconut, 380 dozen eggs and 5 litres of vanilla essence.

Young chef Bella Fazzalari, 20, feels like a lamington specialist.

“I doubt whether anyone else my age would have made this many lamingtons,” she said, happily on break after a serious stint of recipe testing.

“We usually make trays of 100 at a time.”

Participating charities are invited to profit from $65 tickets, offering guests a two-course lunch with drinks and a slice of the giant lamington for dessert. 

Excess lamingtons will be donated to OzHarvest.

Lamington Sponge Roll - Easy to make and bake

Lamington Sponge Roll

Preparation time: 25 mins

Cooking time: 8 mins

Serves: 8

  • Cooking oil spray
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tblsp boiling water
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • ½ cup thickened cream, whipped
  • Extra shredded coconut, to decorate

  • ¾ cup icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tblsp cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tblsps milk

Grease a 26cm x 32cm Swiss roll pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm above pan edges. Spray paper with cooking oil.

To make roll, beat eggs in a small bowl of an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, or until thick. Add sugar, 1 tblsp at a time, beating between additions.

Sift combined flours twice onto paper. Sift again over egg mixture. Add coconut and water. Using a whisk, fold until combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread evenly into corners.

Cook in a hot oven (200C) for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and sponge springs back when lightly touched.

Place a clean tea towel on a bench. Top with a piece of greased baking paper. Immediately turn out sponge onto paper. Remove lining paper. Gently roll up sponge from one short side, with paper and towel inside. Stand for 5 minutes. Gently unroll. Cool.

To make icing, sift combined icing sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. Add just enough milk until smooth and thick.

Spread jam, then cream, over sponge. Roll up. Spoon over icing. Sprinkle with extra coconut. 

Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.