John McDouall Stuart was the first European, along with his ‘companions’ on his expedition, to successfully cross Australia from south to north and back, from Adelaide to Van Diemen Gulf. 


This sample of jerky came from the successful expedition made by John McDouall Stuart across Australia from south to north in 1861 - 1862. It was a necessary part of the exploration to carry food supplies in the most economical manner possible, meat was considered essential in the diet. There was no guarantee of fresh meat supplies, so dried meat (jerky) was the substitute. Stuart's party collected some food during their explorations but at times had limited success catching food and were not familiar with most of the native foods gathered by the local Indigenous populations whose lands they travelled through. 


Part of the Historical Relics Collection. This item demonstrates the type of supplies carried by early European explorers, and the manner in which it has been saved, documented and donated to the Historical Relics collection is evidence of the importance placed on these early explorations and desire to record their achievements. Management of food supplies played an important part in Stuart's success as an explorer. 


A round metal tin with wooden base and glass top, containing various shapes and sizes of dried jerky (meat). The sides of tin have three bands of decorated pressed tin, the top and bottom in colours of green and white, the colours are so worn in the centre it is difficult to identify (possibly gold). The glass has been scratched roughly with the inscription 'meat/from Stuart's/expedition'. There appears to be a piece of charcoal with the jerky.

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State History Collection, HT 86.887. Photograph by Rachel Harris

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