Alice and Cyril Callister graduate from Ballarat School of Mines.
Credit: The Callister Family.
The Man who invented Vegemite
Cyril Callister was born on 16 February 1893, in Chute, Victoria. He was the second son of nine children born to William Callister, a school teacher and postmaster, and William’s wife Rosetta.
Cyril attended Ballarat School of Mines, now Federation University, Ballarat. He won a scholarship to attend the University of Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in 1914, a Master of Science degree in 1917 and a Doctorate of Science in 1931.
Cyril Callister enlisted in 1915 but as a brilliant young scientist, his enlistment was dramatically cancelled against his wishes. He was assigned instead to work in munitions in England, Wales and Scotland.
Back in Australia, he took a job as a laboratory assistant at the Fred Walker Company, later Kraft. There, he invented the yeast extract that was sold as Vegemite. He also packed cheese in a can, helping to develop processed cheese in Australia.
The Cyril Callister Foundation was established in 2019 to tell the little known story of the great Australian scientist, celebrate his life, work and scientific legacy and establish scholarships designed to assist regional youth follow in the footsteps of Cyril Callister and study at university.
Meet the Board
Jamie Callister is the president of the Cyril Callister Foundation. He wrote a book about his grandfather called Vegemite: The True Story of the Man who invented an Australian Icon (Allen & Unwin 2023). Jamie has worked in television media and advertising and teaches English to Japanese students. Jamie lives in southeast Queensland with his wife Libby. He is finishing his second book.
Chris Belden is a chartered accountant and the director of BH Accounting Solutions. He has been involved in the hotel industry and harness racing. Chris sits on several committees – he is President of Montague School Council and Treasurer of Williamstown FIDA Football Club. He and his wife Helen have three children.
Libby Callister has more than 20 years’ experience in communications, media and community engagement in the private and government sectors and not-for-profits developing and implementing effective communication strategies. Libby is the Director of Callister Media and Communications. She led communications and stakeholder engagement for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Coast and the redevelopment of Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Liza Robinson was born in Melbourne and raised on Vegemite, boiled eggs and toast. Having recently moved to the region where Cyril Callister was born, Liza is passionate about creating a museum to celebrate his legacy. Liza has worked in business development, marketing, TV production and residential remodelling in Bali, Indonesia and Los Angeles. Her focus now is on volunteer work and her hobby farm.
Deb Callister is a registered nurse of more than 30 years. Her work with Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland remains a career highlight. She ran homeless outreach clinics for Micah projects and was RN at Brisbane Youth Centre, both in Queensland. She recently returned to Melbourne where she works as a district nurse for Benalla Health.