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.

Lamington drives and chook raffles show the true Aussie spirit

Drisana Levitzke-Gray,  Professor Lyn Beazley AO,
 Governor Kerry Sanderson AO, Stacy Dunbar
 and Graham Mabury.
As a kid growing up my only clear memory of "volunteer" being used was one of the few war stories my Dad, a Tobruk Rat, would tell. Apparently a sergeant-major asked for volunteers interested in music. Four stepped forward and shortly after were seen lugging a grand piano across the parade ground.

Yet in all of the many places across Australia in which I lived, people were always "pitching in", "giving a hand" or "having a whip around". It wasn't called "volunteering" it was simply how we lived. The lamington drives for the CWA were only surpassed by the chook raffles for the footy club. If your neighbour was ill, everyone helped get his crop off. When a wisp of smoke appeared on the horizon, everyone grabbed the tankers and went.

They still do. The idea that we don't volunteer any more doesn't stack up. Magnificent volunteer fire fighters still put themselves in harm's way. SES members are still the angels in orange when disaster strikes. They're a credit to us and to the bosses who give them time off work to attend emergencies. In her foreword to the National Volunteering Strategy in November 2011, then Minister Tanya Plibersek wrote, "Each year, more than 6 million Australians contribute their time, energy and expertise to volunteering activities" contributing "more than 700 million hours of unpaid work".

It has to be the real deal. As one Australian PM famously said, "An Australian can pick a phoney in a fog at four hundred metres". It has to be communicated in a way that resonates with the group you're seeking to engage – and we're an incredibly diverse bunch these days. Some say young people don't volunteer any more. They're on duty as life savers at our beaches, and serving in third world countries. On his return from an overseas project with his school, one fifteen year old in my church raised enough to significantly improve water quality in the village he'd visited.

In 1974 I joined a group of twenty-somethings, from churches of every denomination and none, trying to support the homeless young people we were encountering, when most didn't believe they existed. Aussies within and beyond churches, in business and eventually government gave us support. One rental home in Victoria Park grew into part of the Mission Australia network. The Christmas lunch we started in Wellington Square still caters for the lonely each Christmas Day.

Radio 6PR had faith in an untried rookie who wanted to use commercial radio to help create community and wouldn't do ads. My colleagues always found a way to say "Yes" and because of their support, inter-agency Christmas and Blanket Appeals and Lifeline WA came to be. A phone line became a lifeline, and still does, thanks to volunteers manning phones twenty-four seven. The ex-military man who rang Nightline saying, "I guess I just wanted to say good-bye to someone" is alive today as are countless others. The lives of people they would never meet were changed by the service of these selfless, great Australians, and I'm honoured to have journeyed with them. Any public recognition I have received is truly theirs.

It's not just in formalised programmes. When my wife and I had a blow-out in the middle of a state forest at sunset, I had just started unloading the boot when a four wheel drive pulled up. A friendly young family emerged, changed the tyre, and followed me back to Perth. Like the fisherman who returned the wallet I'd dropped at Cervantes, they would not accept any reward.

The old adage is true – volunteers have no dollar value not because they are worthless but because they are priceless. They have discovered what George Bernard Shaw called "the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one… instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."

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