How to Eat Meat Pies at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat

Friday Food Challenge  Australia Trip #8

Aussie Meat Pies

Mrs. ET and I headed across the plains of Victoria from Melbourne, AU to Ballarat by train. Seventy-five minutes later, we coasted into the station surveying the historic town of Ballarat. Her niece and sister-in-law picked us up and the adventures began.

Aussie Meat Pies

The main interest was Sovereign Hill. Replicating the Australian Gold Rush in the 1850s, reenactors peppered Sovereign Hill with authenticity. There were miners, majors, mothers, and bakers making meat pies.

Aussie meat pie“Have you ever had a meat pie?” Carol asked.

“Of course,” I answered like an Aussie know-it-all.

Only I did not know that the Aussie definition of a meat pie was so different than an American Meat Pie.

Carol could not wait to get her hands on an authentic Sovereign sausage roll, and told me I had to eat a meat pie or my life would not be complete.

“Where are the carrots, peas, and potatoes?”

“What part of meat pie didn’t you get, Marsha?”

“This looks like hamburger, not roast beef.”

“It’s minced meat pie. Try it.”

Remembering back to Christmas more than 50 years ago, I recalled my great-grandmother’s minced meat pie. It was a sweet spicy pie filled with chewy brown stuff called “mincemeat.” I did not think I wanted to try that again.

“Is it beef?”

“Yes, but minced meat can be beef, turkey, pork or any meat. It’s minced MEAT, Marsha.” (They sure are dense in the US, I could hear her thinking.)

I explained about mincemeat as best as my 60-year old memory of it would allow.

“It’s meat, Marsha. It’s not sweet.” Carol urged.

Aussie Meat Pie
Aussie Meat Pie

I gave in. I opened it and sure enough, it looked like hamburger.

“You’re not supposed to open it,” Carol admonished me sternly. “Put the top back on and put tomato sauce on it.”

“It’s too hot. I’ll burn my mouth!”

Oh no, I thought, catsup. Now it sounds like Mom’s meatloaf. That was awful! I can’t do this. What am I going to do now?

“You’re ruining it!” Carol said. “You’ve got to put tomato sauce on it!” She sounded frantic for me to do it right to get the full effect of the Aussie meat pie. I was frantic, too.

“Carol, I can’t put catsup on the top. How am I going to eat it? I’ll have catsup all over my hands and face and who knows what else.”

Carol was disgusted with me. I could tell by her sigh. “It’s not catsup. It’s tomato sauce anyway. You’re not doing it the Aussie (pronounced AUZZY) way. But go ahead JUST TRY IT!”

Gingerly I took a bite without catsup. It was different. I could not identify the flavor, though. Basically, it tasted somewhat like hamburger. The pie crust was flaky. The meat was meaty. I was hungry. The whole thing was gone in five minutes.

Thank you, Carol, Kate, Mandy, and Paul for such wonderful day at Sovereign Hill. I’ll have more to share about our amazing experiences in later posts.

Remembering Ballarat at Home

When I got home, I thought I would make some Aussie meat pies for Vince. I made my own pie crust, which was a mistake because I did not have eggs, and I like eggs and vinegar in my pie crust.

Rolling it out I soon realized that I did not make enough pie crust for two pies. I made another crust. Piecing it all together, I pinched it around the top and thought it looked good OK.

For the meat filling, I followed the recipe below – sort of.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3/4 cup Campbell’s Real Stock Beef
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Vegemite
  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

Since I did not have real stock beef, I used brown gravy mix. I did not use enough water. Also, I was missing Vegemite. OH WELL! Carol gave me some of that on a piece of bread at her house. It’s nutritious.

Proudly I baked the pies. Neither Vince nor I remembered to take a before picture. Vince asked about catsup to put on top.

“What’s the date on that bottle of catsup?” Vince asked as I retrieved the nearly empty bottle from the refrigerator.

“Um, January 2013. It’s fine.”

He did not use catsup either.

Here is Vince’s meat pie after picture.

meat pie
Marsha’s version of meat pie

I am not sure whether or not he liked it. Maybe if I had put vegemite in it.

It’s been in the refrigerator several days now. Carol would not let things like this go to waste. She was a fabulous cook and so efficient. I don’t think Carol would ever substitute things in a recipe. I wonder if I will ever learn?

Have you ever experimented before, and been a little sorry about the results?

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Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. For thirty-five years, I lived in the most beautiful area in Central Valley of California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains minutes from the Sequoia National Park. As a child I moved from Indiana to Oregon. With my first husband I moved from Oregon to Colorado to California. Every time we moved, it hurt so much to leave friends. I never wanted to move again. After Mark passed, I married again. I told Vince that I could never budge from my roots in California. He said he loved the high desert. I don't think he ever thought he would realize his dream. In November, 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

28 thoughts on “How to Eat Meat Pies at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat”

        1. Knowing your penchant for substituting ingredients, I feel I should remind you that when you start making things with pumpkin, make sure you use a butternut squash. It’s what we call butternut pumpkin and it’s one of the best for cooking.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. LOL! I do love butternut squash, but your butternut squash looked different from ours. I fell in love with your version of pumpkin – as you know! 🙂


  1. I don’t think the Vegemite would have made too much difference, and I love your comment “It’s nutritious” – that is politically correct or tongue in cheek? I am ‘Auzzy’ – but I hate Vegemite!!! Ghastly stuff that smells so strong…..
    Your meat pie doesn’t look so bad. But the pastry has to be light and flaky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is both PC and tongue in cheek. My friend Carol was kind to me. She said a lot of Auzzies offer a big spoonful to their Yankee friends. She just told me to put a tiny bit on a piece of toast. That was enough to convince me that I’d had plenty. Carol told me that it actually is nutritious. Maybe if I ate only Vegemite for a few days, I would lose weight. I would definitely eat less! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahah! The Vegemite diet! I would be positively anorexic if I adopted that one! Yes, it is eaten in very small amounts as it is so rich. Apparently I ate it as a baby but my kids were not brought up on it! It is a bit of an Aussie joke to tease foreigners…. all in good fun.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Now you are talking! Tim Tams and Choc mint slice biscuits!! I regularly send Tim tams to my friends in Denmark, as they became addicted when they lived here! I can’t understand why they haven’t become widely available overseas. Everyone, absolutely everyone LOVES them.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Seriously? You do not like caramel? Traitor! I thought we were Tim Tam buddies all the way. The very saddest thing about the Tim Tams was that I bought two boxes to bring home. I left them in Carol’s daughter’s refrigerator. I debated about buying some more at the airport but waited. I had not checked in and I was worried about my bag. Sure enough, it was a smidge too big, and I had to leave it or pay $125 to take it home. It was full. but I managed to retrieve a backpack I had to buy in Melbourne and I squeezed everything in it and my suitcase. Everything bulged except my empty bag looking like an open corpse lying by the trash can. No Tim Tams would have fit – even original flavor. Sadly, I left Tim Tamless. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

          3. You are so funny. The cost of sending goods like that is astronomical. I think Carol told me something like $17. A bit much for a bit of sweets. 🙂 You are so kind. I’ll just have to come back, now. I’ve got to give Carol a break first. I had never spent 3 weeks with anyone, and I did with her. That says a lot for what a great hostess she is. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

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