What foods were commonly eaten by those in the Australian gold rush?
People on the Australian goldfields most commonly ate damper, a
simple bread made of flour, salt and water and cooked over an open
campfire. They ate mutton with potatoes and onions, perhaps some
cabbage and carrots if they were lucky, mutton or rabbit stew, or
salted beef jerky. Occasionally they might kill a kangaroo or
wallaby, but it was not the favoured food, although "roo tail stew"
did become reasonably popular. Other fruits and vegetables were
rare on the goldfields. They enjoyed billy tea as well.
Miners and their families often bought their food in one of the
"trading posts" that grew up around where the fields were. Food was
often very expensive as the local supplier had a monopoly on the
market. This meant that he could charge whatever he liked, knowing
that the miners would not leave their claims in order to travel to
the cities for supplies at cheaper prices.