The Australian BBQ
The Aussie barbecue is a timeless ritual that is ingrained in our culture. Cooking over a sizzling hot grill in the great outdoors has become part of our national identity and has been used in film, television, music and advertising as a backdrop for events great and small.
Barbecuing is a tradition that bridges cultural differences and brings people together. It is a vehicle for family bonding, community spirit and often for comic relief.
The following collection of film, television and sound items, while vastly different from one another, all embrace a common element – the barbecue.
Presenter Duranga Manika (Michelle Torres) describes her fascination with white people and their customs and explains how she spent six months living with a ‘typical white family’ (Tony Barry, Cecily Polson, Kelan Angel, Margeurita Haynes). She also asks members of the general public for their opinions on white people and speaks to the Minister for White Affairs (Bob Maza).
Summary by Kate Matthews
Seven News reporter Chris Reason follows Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for the final day of their 11-day tour of Australia in 2011 on which they are treated to the most Australian of traditions. The big Aussie barbecue on the Swan River foreshore attracted tens of thousands of well-wishers, with people of all ages coming out to catch a glimpse of the Royal couple.
Before addressing the crowd, the Queen and Prince Philip stopped by the barbecues and spoke with volunteers who were cooking up sausages to raise money for charity.
In this clip from Series 1, Episode 11 of The Comedy Company, Uncle Arthur (Glenn Robbins) screens a home movie of a backyard BBQ.
Before Paul Hogan (affectionately known as Hoges) became Mick Dundee in Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, Australia, 1986) he starred in a series of tourism ads designed by the Australian Tourism Commission to attract US visitors to Australia.
This ad is the most famous in the series, clocking-up an impressive amount of Aussie sightseeing in one minute by showing would-be visitors sun-soaked beaches, Uluru, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Sydney Harbour, an AFL game, a boat, restaurant and pub.
Australian idiom such as 'fair dinkum', 'Down Under', 'G-day' and 'mate' is thrown around with calculated abandon. The most famous line, 'I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for ya', contains the American 'shrimp' instead of the Aussie 'prawn' and is often recalled incorrectly as 'throw another shrimp on the barbie'. The saying has become synonymous with Australia for Americans thanks to this highly successful campaign.
The ad also features actress Delvene Delaney who appeared in The Paul Hogan Show in the late 1970s and was co-presenter on the quiz show Sale of the Century from 1982 to 1986.
The ads were produced from 1983-2001 and they're all held in the NFSA collection. Here's another one with Hogan standing on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Notes by Beth Taylor
In this short excerpt from the film Centennial Park (1979) we see a few families and groups of people enjoying a picnic in the park, making use of the public barbecuing areas and enjoying different leisure activities.
A snippet of audio that can be heard in the background of this film says 'This is 2EA, the voice of ethnic Australia', which indicates that these picnickers could be recent migrants who brought their love of alfresco dining with them from Europe and adapted it to the casual, Australian way of life.
The early to mid-1970s was a time when multiculturalism was receiving much support from the federal Whitlam Government, which introduced services to help new migrants settle in Australia, including foreign language radio stations and translation services. Multiculturalism in turn influenced how Australians approach the barbecue and outdoor entertaining.
Centennial Park in Sydney is a park in the grand tradition of English parks with a long history. Opened on 26 January 1888, it has seen many transformations over the years, from swamp and water supply reservoir to grazing land and the scene of Australia's Federation celebrations.
Today it is used by millions of walkers, joggers, dogs, cyclists, horseriders and picnickers as well as being an oasis of peace and a retreat for those seeking a quiet place in the centre of Australia's largest city. This film traces the historical development of Sydney's Centennial Park, the people's park, and the actual purposes for which the park has been used.
In this quirky A Current Affair story from reporter Howard Gipps, he catches up with 'The Barbecue King', barbecue teacher and cookbook author Kim Terakis, who gives us some easy recipes for summer and his top expert tips for a successful barbie. Gipps then introduces 'meatologist' Adam Stratton who highlights some great cuts of meat for entertaining.
The story aired on Boxing Day 2013, which is traditionally a big day for Australians to have a relaxing barbecue at home or at a park with family and friends, as the chaos leading up to Christmas starts to subside. It's also a time of year when current affairs programs tend to air lighter, 'feel-good' stories for frazzled TV audiences to enjoy.
This short home movie from The Perisher Historical Society depicts a group of people having a barbecue, skiing and enjoying the wintry conditions at Charlotte's Pass, proving that the Aussie barbie is not just a summertime tradition.
In this short excerpt David Gulpilil is seen in the outback catching birds and then cooking them over an open fire, in the same way that his ancestors have always done. The process of lighting the fire using just sticks and dried grass and kindling is mesmerising to watch.
This clip is from the film Walkabout to Hollywood, which examines how Aboriginal people have been portrayed in film and how the film industry has treated Aboriginal people. It is also actor David Gulpilil's life story.
After acting in Walkabout (1970), it follows his life and how he dealt with his sudden fame in the United States and returning home to a more traditional way of life.
Notes by Mel Bondfield
This clip is from an early variety/talent show hosted by Bert Newton. In this episode, the contestants perform in a barbecue setting with the other contestants looking on.
The format of these early talent shows was often copied from US shows. Adding a barbecue theme and a casual, friendly setting gives the show a more Australian feel.
'Australians Let Us Barbecue' is a comedy song with lyrics written by radio duo Bucko and Champs and sung to the tune of 'Advance Australia Fair'. The song is from their album Aussie Christmas with Bucko & Champs.
Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion (Bucko and Champs) became known for their comedic take on Christmas carols, giving them an Aussie makeover.
'Australians Let Us Barbecue' contains references that Australians strongly identify with in terms of the family Christmas barbecue, including T-bone steaks, slabs of beer, eating off paper plates and, of course, getting the 'rellies 'round'.
By using the tune to our national anthem, Bucko and Champs are humorously highlighting the significance of the barbecue as being an iconic Australian tradition and part of our national identity.
This clip is from a BBQ-themed episode of the country music program, hosted by Reg Lindsay. The show featured some of Australia's best known country singers of the time including Lucky Grills and Patsy Biscoe.
The BBQ setting adds a real sense of fun to the episode, with host Lindsay dressed in an apron and chef's hat, taking control of the barbecue.
The Brylcreem advertising campaign of the early 1960s focused on the chemistry of 'boy meets girl'. Each advertisement takes place in the type of casual social setting where that initial attraction might flourish – such as a bowling alley or, as in this particular ad, an outdoor barbecue with friends.
The barbecue provides the perfect set-up for the Brylcreem concept, where the young man cooking the barbecue in his chef's hat catches the eye of a young woman (played by Lorraine Bayly). She is initially attracted to him until she catches sight of his unruly, 'lifeless' hair.
A stop-motion sequence with a voice-over effectively shows how the young man's hair can be transformed with Brylcreem. Afterwards, he is seen dancing with the young woman ... surefire proof that the product works!
The jingle 'Brylcreem - a little dab'll do ya, and you'll find the gals'll all pursue ya' sends a clear message to men that just a tiny amount of Brylcreem can reverse their dating fortunes in an instant.
In this short excerpt from a home movie donated to the NFSA by amateur filmmaker Sid Bennetts, we see a group of young men and boys building a barbecue in their backyard.
Long before barbecuing became big business in Australia, it was an Aussie tradition to build your own in the backyard on a slab of concrete using cement besser blocks and a few aluminium trays. For fathers and sons, building a backyard barbie was almost a rite of passage. Once built, the extended family and neighbourhood friends would be invited over to enjoy some nicely charred snags and chops.
This home movie is a perfect example of such a ritual, with the newly built barbecue providing the setting for the social gathering. The film provides a rich snapshot of life in Australia in the mid 1960s.
'The Aussie Barbecue Song' does what Australians tend to do best – poke fun at ourselves.
Legendary comic performer Frankie Davidson refers to the Australian barbecue as a 'national institution' while highlighting the craziness of what we endure for the sake of it – flies in the margarine, burnt steaks and sausages, fighting kids, bull ants and barking dogs.
The song also alludes to the Australian sense of mateship, with the notion that we're all in it together so let's make the most of it – 'c'mon mate, let's grab a plate and have a barbecue'.
In this excerpt from Episode 4 of Inventions from the Shed (2004), Alf gets a giant appetite. When a tin of Spam just won't satisfy him, he builds a giant portable barbecue.
Inventions from the Shed is a five-part documentary series on the driven, obsessive and wacky world of the backyard inventor.
Reflected in this clip is the reputation Australians have for their solution-focused inventions and 'can-do' attitude. The construction of the giant barbecue may also be a nod to Australia's love of 'big' iconically Australian things.
Pyrmont is an inner western suburb of Sydney. The City West Development Corporation has major plans to redevelop the area. The area’s heritage elements and community spirit is challenged by the rapid development. Facing the loss of a park, residents realise they must take an active interest in developments. A shared concern strengthens their sense of community.
Summary by Damien Parer
This film looks at some of the ways in which Australians typically spend their weekend leisure time in the 1960s.
It includes scenes of family outings to the beach, golf, sailing, bushwalking, horseraces, fishing, go-cart races and mowing the lawn, as well as showing young people at Luna Park.
This short excerpt includes adults enjoying an informal evening barbecue and dancing. A typically Australian moment is the passing of the tomato sauce bottle around the table.