THE tiny town of Beaufort has a well kept secret, and it tastes like an Australian icon.
Ten minutes north of Beaufort, in Chute, the man who invented Vegemite was born and raised.
Cyril Callister was born in 1893 and spent his early years there in a house that is still standing.
The fact is not widely known but the Beaufort Progress Association wants to change that – beginning with Australia Day 2019.
“With Australia Day coming, what do we all think about?” Association president Liza Robinson said.
“We think about our traditions, we think about Vegemite, Anzac biscuits, our flag, and all that stuff.”
Beaufort’s cafés and hotels will be offering Vegemite-themed food, including Vegemite flavoured sausages, cheese and Vegemite scrolls, and more.
Ms Robinson said the story of Cyril Callister was fascinating.
“He was one of the key people who started the CSIRO, he worked for the government in World War Two because of his science background, and he was born right here,” she said.
“His father was a school teacher and this was the family home for a long while.”
However, Ms Robinson said most people weren’t aware such an icon was born a hop and skip up the road.
“The only thing that would even let you know that Cyril Callister (was born here) is there’s a sign that says ‘The birthplace of Cyril Callister, the inventor of Vegemite,” she said.
“But there’s no Vegemite jar, there’s nothing. Most people don’t even know about it. When I have guests or tourists into the town I take them out there with a jar of Vegemite and they say ‘oh, this is a really big deal’.”
The Progress Association is currently working to establish the Cyril Callister Foundation, which would then work towards getting an historical overlay to protect the house, which is currently privately owned.
It also wants to establish the Cyril Callister Museum as a way to entice tourists to the town and off the highway after the by-pass is built.
Cyril’s grandson, Jamie Callister, is fully supportive of the idea.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s great to see the community get behind it and I think it’s a good initative and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the community,” he said.
“I think it’s probably one of the greatest unknown stories and has so much significance and I think there would be a lot of people in Ballarat and the area who aren’t aware that he grew up in Chute.
“But those who do know want to get the word out.”
Mr Callister wrote a book about his grandfather’s life, which he described as “a brilliant scientist.”
The book is called The man who invented Vegemite.