Oi Oi, Saveloy

During my 1960s childhood saveloys were a winter treat. We lived on a dairy farm in Tasmania, but my siblings and I did not really appreciate the fresh produce my father produced. We adored anything ready-made… and shop bought. Our saveloys were made by Lionel Johnson, a butcher in Ulverstone’s Reibey Street.Our saveloys were purchased from an Ulverstone butcher.


My mother would get out her old, black iron saucepan and boil the coil of bright red ‘savs‘ on the open fire in the lounge. Oh the novelty! Mind you, my father wasn’t keen on them and always said they tasted like kerosene! I would never have admitted it, but there was a degree truth in that. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The only other place we ate saveloys was at the football, in a slice of white bread. We would be cheering on the Ulverstone Robins against our bitterest enemies Wynyard or Cooee as tomato sauce dripped through the bread onto our jumpers.

Oh, I nearly forgot about battered savs at the annual show, sold as ‘dagwood dogs’.


Saveloys in batter at the show.

I live in NSW now, but can never resist a ‘heart attack on a stick’ at The Royal Easter Show. Do they taste as good as those Ulverstone ones I loved so much ? NO, they are truly horrible. ๐Ÿ˜ก Nevertheless I persevere. Nostalgia is a powerful force.

Saveloy on a stick.

One of the earliest references to saveloys in Tasmania was in 1865, and the circumstances were as bizarre as they were sad. Aย  Hobart street seller called Tommy was approached by a well dressed young woman who asked for sixpence worth of saveloys. When she was served she paid with half a crown, but before Tommy could give her the change she thrust a three month old baby into his arms and ran away.ย 


I was surprised to see saveloys feature in a 1953 newspaper survey to find an Australian national dish. We ate a lot of rabbits at our place, so I read the following recipe with great interest. I think it would have been a worthy contender. I don’t think we had heard of sweet potatoes in Tassie back then though.

Rabbit and saveloys

Saveloy suppers at community events were very popular in the 1930s and the wartime 40s, especially in Tasmania. I guess it’s because they were a cheap option in hard economic times; NORTH MOTTON – A card evening and saveloy supper in aid of patriotic funds held on Saturday last was well attended. Mr J. McWilliams won a mystery parcel competition. The funds will benefit to the amount of about ยฃ2 (Advocate May 23 1941)

Perhaps saveloys escaped rationing because authorities were unable to determine whether they should be classed as meat! ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s doubtful whether anyone travelled as far to attend such an event as the Rev. John Flynn.

John Flynn and the saveloy supper.

You would think that ยฃ100,000 of gold justified something a little more ‘gourmet’.


The problem with a string of snags is that if you lose one you more or less lose the lot!

The queerest sight I’ve seen for a long time was an emu streaking over the plains with a string of saveloys dangling on either side of its head. We were camped in a tent, and had brought from town a string of a dozen saveloys. These were hung on a string inside the tent to keep them fresher. During our temporary absence from the tent an emu entered, grabbed the saveloys in its beak, and beat a hasty retreat. Our dogs gave chase, but after about half a mile the string of saveloys broke, and dropped to the ground, but that didn’t benefit us in the least. The dogs were just as hungry as that emu, so they dined on saveloys. (The Queenslander October 22 1936)

Saveloys  stolen by an emu.

Saveloys achieved the status of iconic Aussie foods when they featured in a Minties cartoon.

Saveloy string features in a Minties cartoon.


Only the most dedicated fan of saveloys would go to this extent to honour them;

Saveloy tatoo

John Harbour, reputedly the best butcher in Ballarat, is a huge fan of Melbourne AFL football club the Demons. He produces saveloys in the team’s colours during footy season. Way to go John! My thanks to Simon Storey for this gem.

Saveloys have long been associated with football.DEMON PRODUCER OF SAVS!


Do you know what the saddest thing to happen to the saveloy was? Bunni….., no, out of respect to the saveloy I cannot even utter the wretched name of that purveyor of nuts, boltsย  and sausages. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Saveloys have been overshadowed  by the Bunnings sausage.


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