Billy Tea & Damper – Stockman Tradition

If you want an authentic Australian stockman’s tradition, then enjoying Billy Tea and damper with beef stew is the way to go.

When we visited Herberton’s Historical Village, it was set up so visitors could experience a stockman’s tucker cooked over an open camp fire. The campfire cook was chopping firewood, boiling water with tea leaves in billy cans, pulling a fresh damper (like bread) from the camp oven. Then he was re-stoking the coals ready to cook another damper.

The smell of the wood fire wafted through the wooden hut, as we stood at the timber servery. The stockman’s wife dished out a good helping of beef stew into our bowls. We felt as if we were drovers, returning to camp, after mustering and riding all day.

After our feed, we enjoyed a Cocky’s Joy (golden syrup) on damper with a pannikin of billy tea. Pannikin is a tin mug that bushmen carry with them for a hot cup of tea.

They made damper as we watched. Then the camp cook ‘threw’ the damper into theย camp oven. Hot coals were placed underneath and on top of the lid. The damper was ready after about 45 minutes. If you’re after an authentic Australian bushman’s tradition, the Herberton Historical Village is awesome.

17 thoughts on “Billy Tea & Damper – Stockman Tradition

  1. Great pics! The only time I’ve had (outside) damper was at something for school many many decades ago. I recall the hot piping bread. I was worried I wouldn’t like it as I didn’t eat crusts back in those days but I loved it.

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    • Thank you. I think my first damper was a year 7 camp – 4 decades ago. But I was over the moon when I found out about the Historic Village having Billy Tea & Damper. They happened to be making another damper while we were there. Just a great experience for the kids.

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  2. Wow, this is so cool! It’s funny because last week we were talking about “Aussie” food at work and I thought of damper straight away. Great pictures!

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    • Thank you so much. I had heard about it being a feature of the Historical Village. The kids were like ‘Wow! This is so delicious!’ Over the month I’ll put together some more stories of our day at the Historical Village.

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    • Anne, It was awesome. This place has grown since new owners took over about 8 years ago. So glad they restored it, doubling the collections and buildings. I will do a few stories over the two months. I just love it that some family from the South cared enough to make it work, keeping parts of our history alive and for us to enjoy.

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  3. Looks awesome! I used to love making damper as a kid after we went on an excursion to Australiana Pioneer Village (which I’m guessing is a similar thing to Herberton). Such a great experience!
    #teamIBOT

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    • Totally amazing Kylie. I will do some more stories on Herberton Historical Village over the next two months. Then about 8 years ago it was going into disrepair, until some hotel owners from down Sydney somewhere wanted to semi-retire. They came to this little rural town and bought this place. Now in the last 5 years, the collection and buildings have doubled, it is so clean, gardens, everything is restored. One building is airconditioned to preserved the pieces: toys, dolls, costumes. Truly magnificient collections in some 50-70 old buildings. There is even a train ride. Fantastic place for kids also. I bring family there at any opportunity.

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