In the middle of the 1800’s Victoria, a recently formed colony in the southeastern corner of Australia, experienced a staggering population swell going from about 75,000 people in 1851 to 500,000 in 1861. The upstart Aussie territory with an abundance of cheap, fertile land and a decent water supply was transformed by the discovery of gold. Lots and lots of gold. On average two tons of gold we brought into the Melbourne treasury per week. The get-rich-quick lure of Victoria was so great that in 1852 more boat tickets to Melbourne were purchased than for all other destinations on earth combined.
Most of the gold-hungry new arrivals came from China and Europe. Of the Europeans a large percentage were Italian and Swiss. As it happens when there are great population shifts many traditions make the trek overseas with the new immigrants. Efforts to reproduce the comforts of their far away homes must have been especially in demand for these new arrivals who found themselves in a land where summer came in the winter, whose trees lost their bark rather than their leaves and whose vastness must have confounded people whose entire lives had been lived in a village or canton. In the more remote areas all attempts to recreate the traditions, accommodations and cuisine these people had left behind became the way of life. For many of the Swiss/Italians the easiest way to allay the pangs of homesickness was prepare a type of sausage now known in Victoria as Bullboar. This type of sausage has been in this area for so long that Slow Food has put it on it's Ark of Taste project (an endangered food protection project).
There has been a great deal of speculation, and not all of it accurate, about the origins of the Bullboar sausage. Some have even gone so far as to insist in some recent news articles that the Bullboar’s forbearer has become untraceable. Our research however, has lead us to believe that the Aussie recipe most commonly used today came from a sausage called the Probusti di Rovereto. Just like the Bullboar it is a beef-and-pork sausage made with garlic and spices. It originated in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy -- a region that is on the Italian/Swiss border and was where Hapsburg-loyal Swiss and Garibaldi avid Italians bickered forcing those not interested in the rift to pack up and leave in the mid-1800s.
Today the Probusti di Rovereto cum Bullboar is a specialty to central Victoria. It is produced almost exclusively in the Goldfields region just north of Melbourne. The modern Bullboar is still quite close to its forbearer and is laden with garlic, red wine, and dried spices.
In Daylesford, Victorian Danny Wanke of the Albert St. Butchery has been making Bullboar his entire career using an award-winning, family recipe three generations old. “The recipe we use,” he explains, “is red wine, white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, pimento and a little bit of Chinese five spice. We still use a dash of the Chinese spice because there was a time when a lot of people around here couldn’t get all the spices they needed. There were Chinese traders around so they bought their spice and used it in the Bullboar. So we do too.”
Danny Wanke’s Bullboars are redolent of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. “Everyone who makes them has a different blend of spice,” he says, “ours is good if you like garlic. We add heaps of garlic.” The Albert St. Butchery Bullboars are in high demand and each batch sells out. Orders are regularly flown to Queensland and he has steady customers as far off as Thailand.
The Albert St. Butchery is located at:
Shop 3/22 Albert St.
Daylesford, VIC 3460
03 5348 2679