Longreach RSL Australia Day dinner

During the week it was Australia Day – January 26th.

It’s a national holiday  – the day we celebrate the “founding” of Australia – when British ships entered Sydney Cove in 1788 and hoisted a flag and laid claim to the country.

founding of Australia

The aboriginal community, and those that support their views, regard the day as “Invasion Day.” A famous aboriginal footballer, Adam Goodes, was named Australian of the Year.

Adam Goodes kicking

Goodesy is not only an amazing Aussie Rules footballer – he plays for my team, the Sydney Swans – but he’s also done a huge amount to battle racism in this country. Here’s a piece from the Sydney Morning Herald reporting on the announcement of his appointment –

Goodes grew up believing Australia was founded on a summer’s day in January 1788 when Governor Arthur Phillip staked the flag of the British kingdom in the sand of Sydney Cove.
”I’ve obviously learnt different since then,” he says. Nevertheless, he finds cause for optimism. ”We are still here, we’ve got a lot to celebrate about being here and that we have one of the longest-serving cultures still alive and kicking.”

January 26th is the height of summer in our country. Traditionally we watch the cricket, we have barbies, we drink beer and eat seafood (prawns & oysters mainly) and snags (sausages).

By the way, we don’t call prawns “shrimp.” We call them prawns. So Paul Hogan’s “put a shrimp on the barbie” was a total falsehood. No-one in Australia ever says that. But hey, it was a great marketing line…

Shrimp on barbie

This year I found myself in Longreach, working. Longreach is a small country town in the Central West of Queensland. In January the temps climb to 45-47 Celcius. That’s 113-117 Fahrenheit .

Because Australia Day is a holiday, all the restaurants in Longreach were closed. And by all the restaurants, I mean all four of them. Even the Chinese – the Happy Valley restaurant. The only place open was the RSL Bistro.

Digger memorabilia Bistro

RSL stands for the Returned and Services League, and there’s an RSL club in most towns in Australia. In an RSL you can get a beer, have a feed, and bet on the pokies or horses.

What could be more Australian?

The Longreach RSL Bistro had an Australia Day special on – Roast of the Day (lamb, of course) and Vegemite and cheese snags. Vegemite is a dark salty paste that we usually put on toast at breakfast. It’s a bit like Marmite in the UK, except it’s edible.

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Many overseas visitors try Vegemite and think it’s disgusting. Our immigration department can usually find a way to shorten their visa. I have to state that I love Vegemite, and I carry a small jar of it with me when I travel overseas. However, the thought of having Vegemite and cheese snags for dinner did not particularly appeal.

But feeling suitably jingoistic, I gave it a go. I liked that each had a little cocktail flag of Australia stuck in it.

Aus Day snags.1 snags demolished

While I tucked into my Aussie Day special, I noticed that there were several tellys catering for the various national obsessions – a cricket match between Australia and England, the final of the Australian Tennis Open, featuring Raphael Nadal, and screens for betting on the horses. All needs were covered.

Nadal lying down Cricket on tv Races on tv

I asked about the snags – they were made especially for the RSL for Australia Day by a local butcher, Savages, and cooked to perfection by the Bistro’s head chef, Andrew.

Justin & Andrew

I thought sausages filled with Vegemite and cheese would be truly putrid, but they were actually quite nice. They are though a delicacy that I would keep strictly for Australia Day, and only when I happened to be in Longreach.

The evening came to a logical conclusion when Nadal lost the championship, and Australia beat the Poms.

Aussies won

It was a great day to be an Aussie!


22 thoughts on “Longreach RSL Australia Day dinner

    1. Hi Arlene – Bill and Jen will show you how to spread the Vegemite on your toast … it needs to be spread THICKLY, just like jam … it’s got masses of Vitamin B in it and it’s still the mainstay of kids’ lunchboxes, after around a century or so of production … kinda like your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – yum!

      1. Bill
        I’m willing to give it a try, in fact I’m curious. Isn’t Scotch an acquired taste also?

      2. Absolutely top, top, top-notch post Bill ! I loved it – great photos too. Could you get a photo of the vegemite taste-testing with Arlene please ? That’ll be one for the blog !
        Cheers to everyone – Jenny

  1. Good morning all! I’m with Steve, I’d give my portion to someone who truly liked it. Not usually willing to try odd food items. Today is Superbowl Sunday and my team the Seattle Seahawks are in to win! Going to be cooking lots of munchies a little later.If you only have nine weeks to go, we need an update on your feet and knees Bill! You are all going to have such a wonderful time.

    1. Hi Linda, I don’t know about the other two cripples, but I am up to speed healthy and ready. No more hip issues. Great to hear from you as always am sorry but I’m not a Broncos fan but I am a Peyton Manning fan.

      1. I’ll forgive you for that Steve. Go Seahawks!
        My knees and hips began to hurt less towards the end of the Camino but now that I’m home and not walking 12 miles a day, my knees are worse. Hard to get to a standing position without pushing off with your hands. Guess I just need to give up working and walk all day.

      2. Interestingly, I had been put on Lipitor (statin for cholesterol – and mine was not high) about the time I began training walks last spring. I began to have hip and other pains and attributed it to walking. I finally quit the Lipitor 6 weeks ago and all symptoms gone. It had nothing to do with walking. Pretty amazing. That stuff is deadly, particularly if not taking it has little if any impact on health. My cardiologist completely agreed with me.

      3. WOW! I am taking Lipitor and the pains started about the same time as I started with a statin. Have an appt on Thursday about thyroid and will talk to doctor. My cholesterol is high. Was much better after two months of real food in Spain rather than the hormone added and toxic stuff we eat. Have been doing mostly vegetarian since coming home.

      4. Just something for you to consider. My guy said stay off of anything till after Portugal. But he also said there was an alternative that will lower cholesterol and rarely have the same negative side effects of Lipitor for cholesterol other statins. Good luck. Check it out.

  2. Steve, do you know the name of the alternative? I’d like to ask the doctor about it. I know as one gets older it brings aches and pains but I don’t want any I can avoid. Hips aren’t too bad anymore. but the shoulders and knees are always irritating.
    One hour twenty three minutes before Super Bowl! Go Hawks!!

    1. Wow, you should be proud of your Seahawks. I did not even watch the game. I like the Manning boys because I used to watch Archie with the Saints when I lived in New Orleans, LA ages ago.


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