Through most of the nineteenth century, Rouse Hill House was the social hub of the district.

The Rouse family regularly played host to formal society dinners, long luncheons and sociable tea parties, plus major family events to celebrate birthdays, weddings and Christmas.

The family’s surviving cookery books, in various states of repair, date between the 1850s and the 1950s. Each book is of interest in itself, but as a collection they stand testament to the social and cultural changes that this family, and indeed, Sydney itself underwent in this 100 year period. They demonstrate the gradual emergence of Australian identity from the late 1800s through food and recipes, native and localised ingredients such as kangaroo tail soup, jugged wallaby, curried bananas, rosella jam and prickly pear jelly.

Through their tattered and splattered pages we can see which dishes were popular in the Rouse household over many generations – here’s a small sample from the Rouse family cookery books collection.

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About the Author

Jacqui Newling wearing a red top and glasses
Dr Jacqui Newling
Assistant curator
Creative Services
Jacqui brings over ten years of ‘visitor first’ interpretation experience to her role as a curator at SLM. She specialises in place-based social history and heritage, bringing meaningful stories from our past to contemporary audiences through various forms of media, from exhibitions to interactive opportunities for visitors in our museums. 

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