Taryn de Vere talks colonialism and cake

It was Australia Day recently, a day that for many is better known as Invasion Day

Most of my (white) ancestors arrived in Australia between 1810 and 1890. After a time they settled on the land traditionally owned by the Wiradjuri people. That is where I spent most of my childhood.

When the British arrived in Australia on the 25th of January in 1788 they began a campaign of displacement, abuse, enslavement and genocide against the Indigenous people of Australia. Hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered, enslaved, and had their land and children stolen. This continues up to the present day, with Aboriginal children being taken from their families on the flimsiest of contexts (sometimes due to outright lies from the state). Aboriginal people are, per capita – the most incarcerated people in the world. Aboriginal people make up 27% of the prison population, and one in five of all prison deaths are aboriginal people. In Western Australia alone indigenous children are 53 times more likely to be jailed than non-Indigenous children.

Aboriginal people live 10 years less than other Australians, have an infant mortality rate 1.7 times higher than non-indigenous people. Systematic and societal racism means they are regularly discriminated against, in every possible way.

The Australian government insists on celebrating Australia Day every year on this date (despite it not historically always having been celebrated on the date of the first fleet landing).

The Aboriginal people I know find this insensitive and offensive, as do I. Why a nation would think it is ok to celebrate the date genocide started is completely beyond me. I stand with my Aboriginal friends in asking Austrlia to #changethedate

#Invasionday should NOT be celebrated. Colonisalism should NOT be celebrated. A day to celebrate an inclusive Australia could and should happen on a less-offensive and emotive date. The date is for many is a #dayofmourning

Australia Day is a day that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable – but then my identity as an Australian makes me feel deeply uncomfortable too. Australia has been perpetrating horrific human rights abuses against asylum seekers for many years now and racism and intolerance seem to be increasing there as the years go by. Often I feel ashamed of my country and I wish I wasn’t Australian, would that I could claim to be a Kiwi instead, New Zealand seems to be leading the way in so many directions – from covid to sex workers rights. Nonetheless the day always makes me think about Australia – something I don’t do much of the other days of the year. Many of my thoughts about Australia centre on food (undoubtedly better food all round than any I’ve eaten anywhere in Europe, sorry folks). A staple of the cake stall is Lamingtons, a dish so loved by Aussies that it has it’s own National Day (21st July). According to the Queensland Government House, the lamington was created in the late 1800s by the chef of the state’s eighth governor, Lord Lamington, when there was a sudden need to provide fancy food for unexpected visitors.

You can cheat and make Lamingtons with packet vanilla cake (I will try not to be offended by the use of a packet cake) or you can do it the harder, but debatedly yummier way. Here’s how I make them:


6 eggs

150gms caster sugar

50gms cornflour

75gm plain flour

50gms SR flour

160gms dessicated coconut


Chocolate icing:

600gms icing sugar

50gm cocoa powder

20gm butter

250ml milk


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Grease and line a 20cm x 30cm rectangluar tin
  3. Beat eggs in aneletric mixer/food processor for about 10minutes, until the mixture is thick and creamy, then gradully add the sugar bit by bit, beating in between.
  4. Triple sift the flours togther and fold into eggand sugar mixture.
  5. Spread mixture evenly into pan and bake for 35minutes.
  6. Turn cake onto wire rack to cool.
  7. Make chocolate icing by sfting icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl
  8. Stir in butter and milk and set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  9. Stir until well mixed and melted.
  10. Cut cake into small rectangles.
  11. Dip each piece into themixture and then coat with cocnut
  12. Leave to set
  13. Enjoy! (Keep in an airtight container and eat within a few days or freeze). 

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