Lady Victoria Buxton, wife of the Governor of South Australia (1895 - 1899), described Adelaide in 1896 as a “Land of Cakes”. Coming from a family focused on evangelical and community works she began the Lady Victoria Buxton Girls’ Club in 1898 under the guidance of the Anglican church, as an alternative for young working women of Adelaide instead of the beach or street; namely a club to provide rooms where girls might ‘meet for amusement and instruction’. It then developed into a hostel for 25 girls until 1955. Lady Buxton had undertaken similar projects in London and involving the YWCA before moving to Australia.
One of the primary means of fundraising for the Girls’ Club was the sale of The Kookaburra Cookery Book, the proceeds of which were used to purchase buildings for the Club’s use. First published in 1911, The Kookaburra Cookery Book was reprinted a number of times both in Adelaide and by E W Cole in Melbourne and was continuously in print until 1930. Later editions had additional recipes, and were occasionally bound in green cloth, but these additions didn’t change the focus of the book which was, despite 70 categories of recipt (over 1200 in all), predominantly baking and sweets (almost 1/3 of the book).
Most of the recipes are attributed to their contributor, some coming from far afield including NSW, Victora, Western Australia and the United Kingdom - even America. Mrs P Stow (actually the whole Stow family) seems to have contributed a lot! And we can thank Mrs Robertson of Melbourne for her dish of Savoury Oysters -
Season some oysters with lemon juice and cayenne. Roll each in thin pieces of fat bacon, have ready some beaten egg into which dip each oyster and bacon, then put into pan of boiling fat and fry till brown, drain on paper and serve very hot on pieces of fried bread.
Predominantly English or French recipes, there is a smattering of recipes from the Indian Raj including kabobs, chutneys, curries etc with the odd helpful hint such as”never serve a curry as an entree, always after the piece or the joint”
Sadly, despite its name, there is almost no reference to native produce apart froma Kangaroo Tail soup and a Parrot Pie (which includes the useful advice to substitute quail!); definitely no Kookaburra dishes!