Most Australian women have responded to the request. ‘Ladies, bring a plate.‘ Of course there has to be something on the plate. but more of that later.

Oh my word, it’s amazing how much just four words can convey The phrase is part of our social history, along with various expressions highlighting our laidback approach to life, including; ‘No worries Mate‘ and ‘She’ll be right.’ Well, in the end there was something to worry about Mate. 😎

In recent times ‘Ladies bring a plate‘ has been used to highlight our society’s attitude to women, especially within conservative politics. In 2013, Julie Bishop (Foreign Minister) was the only woman in Liberal PM Tony Abbott’s 19 strong cabinet. It inspired a brilliant cartoon by Fiona Katauskas in The Australian newspaper. From left are Ms Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, and Tony in his famous ‘budgie smugglers’.

Ladies Bring a Plate cartoon 2013

While I was sorting out boxes of kitchenware belonging to my late mother-in-law I found a wooden plate with her name written on the back. I suspect it dates from the 1960s,when my husband Rob and his sister were in cubs, brownies, sporting clubs etc. I wonder how many times she took this plate along to functions?

Yes, I too have a plate with my name taped on it. used for taking slices and biscuits along to our local garden club.

I do love the no-bake recipes included in the following article. It’s hard to go wrong if you don’t actually have to cook something.

This is my no-cook option;


Now all this brings me to a delicate issue. Is it acceptable to respond to ‘Bring a Plate’ by simply opening a packet of biscuits? I think that is pushing the boundaries. However, I have to admit that on several occasions I have bought a walnut and date loaf from the local supermarket, sliced and buttered it and taken it along. Do you think that the buttering gets me over the line as far as the spirit of the request goes? I’m pretty confident it does. Now as to whether I responded to compliments on my cooking with a confession….. well, I may have done.

The C.W.A (Country Women’s Association) is one organization where there are definitely higher expectations when it comes to ‘bringing a plate’. Even I would feel obliged to produce a sponge cake or a decent batch of scones. The following paragraph in the Wongan-Ballida Budget (1953) with its request for ‘a good plate‘ would have struck fear in my heart.

Here is an example of offerings at Moruya C.W.A in 2018. All very good plates and not a bought, buttered loaf to be seen!

Ladies brought wonderful plates to the Moruya C.W.A.
ROBYN WRIGHT SUPERVISING (Bay Post, Sept. 13 2018)

It’s easy to imagine the confusion created by ‘Ladies, bring a plate please.’ During my 1950s childhood our lovely Dutch neighbour was one of many migrants who took the request literally, assuming the function organizer was short on crockery. Well honestly…why wouldn’t you think that? 😎 I guess newcomers to Australia are still perplexed.


There is a related saying that I also love. ‘Please knock with your elbows.‘. It means of course to bring a plate in each hand. 😍

At the risk of being labelled a rabid leftist or a militant feminist, I can’t resist adding another Fiona Katauskas cartoon. Tony Abbott’s demise at the hands of Zali Steggall in 2019 may have signalled change, but (figuratively speaking) a lot of plates have been smashed over the heads of conservative politicians since then.

Ladies bring a plate cartoon.


Fortunately, the original four words have increasingly reduced to three. 😍

  1. I aunt been to a good ole Aussie morning tea function
    for a long time, but late last yr went to a fundraiser
    & I have to say the β€œspread” as I often heard my mum &
    aunties say was magnificent . Beautifully baked β€œcream puffs,
    fantastic egg sandwiches, & my favourite beautiful cream lillies.
    Of coarse there were plenty of other tasty looking sweets &
    savouries. I was just bit in awe of the wonderful ladies who had
    prepared all the wonderful goodies. I think sometimes the
    younger people are missing out a bit with only being able to
    produce a platter where everything is bought. Love your stories.

    • Pauline

      Hi Pam, I really appreciate you taking the trouble to leave a message. You have mentioned two of my all-time favourites, cream puffs and cream lilies. My darling mother used to make them for various functions and for birthday parties etc. I’m so pleased you enjoy my stories. I love social history.

  2. that was a nice story women cant cook these days i remember the parties id go to with my family back in the late 60’s n 70.s beautiful food

    • Pauline

      We women can certainly still cook Trevor. We don’t make so many cakes and biscuits though. 😎

  3. I must say, as one of the “boys” that enjoys reading your works, this is one of the most interesting and closest to home. In my workplace, it was definitely just three words, however the quality of the product, and who provided it, does not need to be mentioned. Another great story. Thank you Pauline.

    • Pauline

      Thanks for your message Warren. It’s such an interesting part of our cultural history. I try to adapt to change as best I can and not just view the past as all rosy, although it’s not always easy. 😎

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.