The original Parliament House in Canberra was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York on May 9, 1927. The luncheon menu appeared in the papers. Turtle soup would be frowned on nowadays, but I thought Canberra pudding was a creative touch.

Menu featuring Canberra pudding.
THE SUN, MAY 5 1927


The following recipe was provided to ABC radio in 2007, by listener Lorna Fazidean. She said her grandmother used to make it.

Recipe for Canberra Pudding.

Swap the dripping for suet and it sounds very similar to the jam roll my mother used to make. Jam roll, like many such puddings, originated in England. It was said to be very popular in prisons, because it rhymed with parole. 😎

Another pudding very popular in Canberra, especially around budget time, is Norman Lindsay’s cut-and-come again Magic Pudding.

The Magic Puddong.

Finance Ministers reference it while insisting there is a limit to funds, ie; ‘Treasury does not have a magic pudding‘. Of course it does leave them open to satirical cartoons.

The following was aimed at Malcolm Turnbull’s government in 2017, suggesting there was something so ‘off’ about the budget that poor Albert expired!

Magic pudding political cartoon

New South Wales members of State Parliament attending the opening felt they got a very bad deal. No pudding of any kind for them! They travelled from Sydney by train, walked the final mile to Parliament House, and had to purchase 10 shilling food hampers. The official stand set aside for them was so far from proceedings they were advised to bring field glasses.


While federal politicians and royalty lunched on roast beef and Canberra pudding, the public were catered for with Sargents meat pies.

Sargents hope to feed ten thousand people tomorrow. They will have on hand about 30,000 meat pies…..Clients will pay 3/-before entering, and will be allowed to eat as much as they like when they get inside.

It is estimated that if 30,000 pies are laid side by side, they would form a string two and half miles long. They would go ten times round Parliament House. (The Labor Daily May 9 1927)

However, there was one problem. The newly established capital was sadly lacking in accommodation, so visitor numbers were well down on expectations. Also, many people had to travel long distances and brought packed lunches. Vast quantities of pies were left over, and had to be buried. It was the government who had to foot the bill, as Sargents had been guaranteed the sale of a certain number of meals.

It was never revealed just where the waste pies were interred. Some people said it was at the Queanbeyan tip. Others insisted they were dumped in a pit on land the current Treasury building stands on.


I so hope the latter is true. Perhaps there could be a plaque set into the floor as a reminder that bad planning is costly. 😍


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