Search for the first ANZAC biscuit recipe revisited

Recently I was tempted by the aroma of baking biscuits and some culinary history to attend another presentation by Allie Reynolds at Adelaide Farmers’ Market, at the Wayville Showgrounds. Timed perfectly for Anzac Day, it was a follow up to her first fascinating talk at the Market about her search for the first Anzac biscuit recipe in April last year.

Assisted by Fiona Roberts, Allie was able to talk and bake at the same time, describing her latest research but not giving away too many surprises so she can leave something for the book that is in progress.

First she updated us on the great coconut debate. Who put the coconut in the Anzac biscuit and when?  1924 seemed to be a possible turning point and certainly by the 1930s it was becoming a common ingredient, and fixed by the Second World War period. She also talked about other similar biscuits and their historical connections to the Anzac such as flapjacks in the UK and munchies in South Africa.

Allie came up with these simple but astute conclusions. The culinary icon that is the Anzac biscuit is both ordinary and extraordinary.  It is made by ordinary people using a simple recipe.  However it is also extraordinary because it is unique, unusual and uniting.  Unique because it is the only food icon that has come out of the vagaries of war.  Unusual because it is eaten all year but is also commemorative.   And uniting because?  Well, Allie cited two interesting examples.   Unlike the Pavlova it doesn’t divide us as Australians with our New Zealand neighbours over its origins.   Allie also quoted the marvellous example of the Baked Relief group of women in Brisbane who sent biscuits from the city to those struggling in the bush in Queensland.  A great culinary gesture of unity.

The Anzac biscuit, decided Allie, is ‘purposeful and positive’.  Not everyone can march, not everyone can join the RSL or wear medals. But we can all bake biscuits.

And with this said, we all shared the results of Allie’s baking, made from a pre-1920, coconut-less family recipe belonging to Carole Moore, from the Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society.   You too can download the recipe in the Resources section to the right.

BOB is on the move again

History SA/Veterans SA’s travelling exhibition Bravest of the Brave, which tells the moving stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, is on the move again.

Affectionately known as BoB, the exhibition has already spent the beginning of the year at Semaphore & Port Adelaide RSL, before heading south to Seaford Library where the display was opened by SA footy legend and Vietnam Veteran, Graham Cornes aka ‘Cornesy’.  Most recently BoB was displayed at Mount Barker RSL which included a visit from local St Francis de Sales College students on 28 March.

Bravest of the Brave has just been taken to Colonel Light Gardens RSL where it will spend ANZAC Day while its identical twin, BoB Mk II, is spending April at the Victor Harbor Visitor Centre to coincide with the 86 Transport Platoon (Vietnam)’s annual reunion.

Bravest of the Brave tells the story of eight ordinary men: Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jørgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods – who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country. Some were born or educated in South Australia; some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.

The Victoria Cross is the British and Commonwealth’s armed forces’ most coveted award, their supreme decoration for gallantry, under enemy fire.  Only 1,356 medals have been awarded since its introduction in 1856.

Bravest of the Brave is available from History SA free of charge to travel to schools, RSL clubs, museums, libraries, aged-care facilities, community centres etc. There is also a schools resources kit.  Currently BoB Mks I and II are booked up to travel to a variety of venues in South Australia throughout 2014, but there are still a few spots available throughout 2015.

Enquiries regarding the exhibition’s availability should be made on 08 8203 9888 or email for more information.

More photographs of the display at other venues, including its launch by the Hon Jack Snelling MP in April 2012 are here

Gallantry exhibition opens at new City Library

History SA/Veterans SA’s new joint travelling exhibition Gallantry, telling the stories of the brave actions of five South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross and George Cross in the Second World War and the Vietnam War, opened on 1 April at Adelaide’s new City Library.

Following a welcome speech by the City of Adelaide’s Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, the exhibition was launched by the Hon Zoe Bettison MP, the State Government’s new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. It was her first official event in this role.

Some of the relatives of the medal recipients were at the launch including the son of Lionel Matthews, David who attended with other members of his family.

Project managed by History SA’s Amanda James and Pauline Cockrill, the display was researched and written by local professional historians, June Edwards and Madeleine Regan, and designed by Emily Woods of Arketype.

It consists of 10 pull up banners telling the history of both awards, a background to South Australia and World War II and the Vietnam War and the stories of the 5 recipients: Peter Badcoe VC; Thomas Currie (Diver) Derrick VC; George Gosse GC; William (Bill) Kibby VC; and Lionel Matthews GC.  The framed replica medals and citations of each man are also included.

The format follows on from History SA/Veterans SA’s successful travelling display Bravest of the Brave, launched in 2012 and telling the stories of the SA recipients of the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

Gallantry will continue to be displayed at the City Library until the end of this month, coinciding with Anzac Day on 25 April and the centenary of the beginning of the First World War this year.   The library has also organised a series of talks with the Military Historical Society of Australia (SA Branch) regarding both the history of the Victoria Cross and the 10th Battalion (flyer can be downloaded on right).

After April, the exhibition will be available for loan for free by community museums, libraries, history groups and RSL clubs throughout South Australia.  For more information, please call 08 8203 9888 or email 

More photographs from the launch can be seen here 


Recent Posts

Recent Comments