the mixed grill

Mixed grills are not unique to Australia’s culinary history. Many cultures have a version in their cuisine.  Some of us may remember when the mixed grill was a staple menu item in cafes and pubs across the country.

The Mercury – 15 Feb 1909

The Examiner – 21 July 1932

Toni Risson writes about mixed grills in Greek cafes in the Queensland Historical Atlas.

Significantly, Greek cafés did not serve Greek food. They catered instead for the British-Australian predilection for steak, chops, poultry, pork fillet – accompanied by fried eggs, chips, salad or boiled vegetables, sliced white bread and butter – meat pies, mixed grills, toasted sandwiches and coffee. (The mixed grill, which consists of a steak, a chop, two sausages, two fried eggs and two rashers of bacon accompanied by a large grilled tomato and two slices of white toast with Worcestershire Sauce readily available, is the epitome of this diet).

your call is important to us





Brisbane Courier – 14 January 1909   One hundred years ago, “Sorry to have kept you waiting” was in the telephonist’s manual of responses.







Sunday Times – Perth – 8 December 1929

Some persons habitually call their friends and acquaintances at meal time, because they feel sure that they will then find them at home. But this is decidedly bad form, and there are some people who make it a rule never to be disturbed at meal time. It is perfectly courteous to have the one who answers the phone simply say: “Mrs. Jones is at dinner. Do you wish her to call you up when she is finished?” It is not thoughtful to leave dinner guests to talk on the phone.

Hmmm… leaving the table or room to take a phone call a lost practice?

A rabbit and a bandicoot ……


A sweet little verse for the end of the week.

The Courier Mail – 18 April 1939

So what’s a bandicoot? – Thanks to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for the fact sheet. Bandicoots were named after, but are definitely not equal to, a rat species found in India and Sri Lanka.

Bert Bailey – more than the Dad in “Dad and Dave”

Theatrical all-rounder Bert Bailey was born in New Zealand and came to Australia with his mother as a small child.  He is most well known for his portrayal of “Dad” on stage and screen in Steele Rudd‘s On Our Selection.

The Mercury of 6 Nov 1937


AUSTRALIANS at the moment are very “Dad and Dave”- minded, and it is undoubtedly this fact that has led Associated B.E.F. to the decision to reissue “On Our Selection,” Australia’s first talkie produced by Cinesound some five years ago, with Bert Bailey heading the original stage cast.  “On Our Selection” will probably be released at all metropolitan theatres and there is little doubt that it will be well received.

Twenty-five years ago, in May 1912, “On Our Selection” was first presented as a stage play at the Palace, Sydney, and today, more than a quarter of a century later, the story of  “Dad,” “Dave,” and all the rest of the famous Rudd family is still popular.

When he died this item appeared in The Advertiser – 1 April 1953.  His papers are available as a research resource at the National Library of Australia.

Note:  Leo McKern and Geoffrey Rush played Dad and Dave in the 1995 version of On Our Selection..

Dad and Dave Come to Town poster image courtesy of

Pentridge Prison

In 1863, The Argus ran a series of articles on Pentridge Prison.  B Division – 28 April 1863   The selected excerpts from this rather upbeat article refer to meal time and the prisoners’ daily schedule.


….. The mess-room is a very large apartment, 180ft. long, and 24ft. wide. Here the prisoners at meal times are seated, five in a row on each form, their faces all turned one way, so that a small number of warders have a complete supervision over all. Here, as elsewhere in the establishment, three meals a day are served – breakfast at seven o’clock, dinner at noon, and supper at five. The first meal (full rations) consists of half a pound bread, a pint of hominy (about 15oz.), and half oz. sugar. The dinner consists of 12oz. meat and bone, a pint of soup (the liquor in which the meat is boiled), 1 lb. potatoes, half  lb. bread, and half oz. of salt. Supper consists of a pint of hominy, 4oz bread, and half oz, sugar. The meat served is always fresh boiled meat, beef and mutton mostly the former. One prisoner carves for each, mess of five, and if either of the other four disapprove of his impartiality in adjusting his own claims to a due share, the option is given to the dissatisfied person to exchange plates with the carver. ……

……. Prison life is certainly left to present its own repulsive aspect but its terrors are not heightened by the incapacity or unnecessary harshness of the gaolers. The prisoners’ day for the present month (it varies with the season, as the days shorten or lengthen) is thus measured out to those who have passed the discipline of the Panopticon :-Rise at 6.15 a.m. ; leave the cells or sleeping-wards at 6.30; prayers at 6.50;breakfast at 6.55 ; muster for labour at 7.15; dinner at 12 ; muster for labour at 1 ; school at 4 ; supper at 5 ; prayers, 5 25 ; they are locked up, at 5.30; and perfect silence must be observed after half-past seven o’clock.

Such is prison life at Pentridge. Cleanliness, and generally robust health, intervals for reflection, and opportunities for learning useful labour, with the additional advantage of being taught to bear restraint, and becoming thoroughly and practically acquainted with the steady outages of losing honest freedom – these are all forced upon the condition and mind of all the prisoners. …………..

Ten years later, The Australasian Sketcher for Pen and Pencil – 4 October 1873 featured illustrations from Pentridge Prison.





The State Library of Victoria summarises the history of the gaol.

Barramundi v Murray cod – an angler’s view in 1863

Sydney Morning Herald – 8 October 1863.


To the Editor of the Herald

SIR, – I have been much pleased to see, by articles which have from time to time appeared in your paper, that persons are taking the trouble to introduce that valuable fish the Murray cod into the eastern waters of the colony, and have been much interested by the circumstance of this fish being found in the Clarence River alone of all the rivers flowing into the sea on the eastern coast. Permit me to remind gentlemen interested in this pursuit that there is another Australian river fish, far superior to the cod in many respects, of which very little is known in New South Wales. I mean that beautiful fish the “barramundi” which is   found in great numbers in the Fitzroy and its tributaries –   the Dawson, the Mackenzie – and in other rivers in Queensland. This fish is very handsome, grows to a large size, often reaching 40 lbs, is a good table fish – in my opinion quite equal to the cod. As a sportsman’s fish, it is far superior to the cod being almost as strong and lively in the water when hooked as a salmon, while the cod is very dull and sluggish in this way. In fact, I know of no fish except the salmon which would afford better sport to the angler than the barramundi.

Trusting that gentlemen who take an interest in pisciculture will, while they are about it, turn their attention to propogating this very fine fish. I remain, Sir, yours obediently,

AN ANGLER. Lachlan River, 1st October.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience – first Australian production 1882

I’m celebrating my 100th post on Now and Then with something aesthetic and artistic ….. swoon.

In 1882, George Musgrove teamed up with J C Williamson and Arthur Gamer as a theatre production team, pooling their skills and funds for the premiere Australian production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal.   The production was illustrated in The  Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil – 15 July 1882.

Australia’s first female medical practitioner

Constance Stone had to put in more than a few hard yards to get to be Australia’s first woman medical practitioner.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser of 13 February 1890.

Tennyson defends Australia

This Parliamentary Education Office link takes you to a history of all of the Governors-General of Australia.  The second man to hold the post was Lord Tennyson, whose name was Hallam.  He was the son of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the English poet.  He spent 5 years in Australia, as Governor of South Australia and then as a replacement for Lord Hopetoun, the first Governor-General of Australia.

It’s good to know that, soon after he arrived back in England, he was ready to spring to the defence of a nation apparently rumoured to be on the track to ruination.  Sydney Morning Herald – 3 March 1904

The pain zone

When you’re naming a new product or service (or a city’s transport ticketing system), it sometimes pays to do some research into the past. Cairns Post – 31 March 1932

There is no need to feel sensitive in asking for Myzone, for chemists also recommend it for migraine headache any time of the month.