Vegemite rolls off the production line but not everybody loves the yeast spread developed by Australian scientist Cyril Callister. Its success today comes through resilience, perseverance and hard work. An estimated 80% of Australian households have a jar in the fridge or pantry.

Artist Lesley Hunter: “I painted Vegemite being launched with fanfare. I surprised to learn through my research that it was not popular. That’s why there are thumbs down on my drum.”


Salesmen can’t sell Vegemite. Fred Walker, the Melbourne entrepreneur who founded the Fred Walker Company and the Kraft Walker Cheese Company with American James L Kraft, has a bright idea … if he can’t sell it, he’ll give it away. Each person who buys a block of cheese will receive a free jar of Vegemite.

Artist Jay Kulbardi: “I liked the story of salesmen trying to sell Vegemite without success. Then someone has a great idea and suddenly, you get Vegemite for free when you buy a block of cheese. That was the game changer.”


Vegemite is canned so it can go to war in soldier ration packs, providing essential B vitamins to the troops.

Artist Jay Kulbardi: “I was shown a small rusty ration tin in the museum collection and used that as a model for the tin I painted on my drum. I added poppies because they are representative of war.”


With almost all Vegemite headed overseas to soldiers, the spread is in short supply at home increasing its popularity. Limited edition glass jars feature colourful characters that include Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse. These are popular and used as drinking glasses in the home.

Artist Lesley Hunter: “Soldiers needed vitamins and most of the Vegemite we made went overseas. No one could get it here. It was not available in Aussie grocery stores. I was surprised to learn some Vegemite tins and jars had Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse on the labels.”


Cyril worked at the forefront of research into vitamins and knew Vegemite was a good source for B vitamins. During the 1950s, hospital maternity wards gave away free jars of Vegemite to new nursing mums.

Artist Tomas Lineker: “By the 1950s, Australia was in boom times. Men had returned from the war and gone back to work. Women were having babies. I’ve used prams to represent that baby boom. Lesley suggested a stork so I added one in. I think it fits in rather well there.”


Vegemite celebrates its milestone 100th birthday. It is recognised around the world as one of our great Aussie icons.

Artist Tomas Lineker: “This drum is about celebration. I tried to keep it quite contemporary. I added Vegemite jars filled with flowers because it seemed like a good way to get a message across about recycling. Finding ways to reuse what we can in creative ways is the message of our times.”


Jay Kulbardi

Jay Kulbardi is a visual artist practising in the contemporary First Nations art space, is LGBTQIA+, Indigenous (Bibbulmun, Noongar) and Chilean. His/their work features in galleries and on a Melbourne art tram. Jay said: “I love Vegemite so this was an easy job to s...

Lesley Hunter

Lesley Hunter is a Beaufort mum, step-mum, grandmother, gardener, writer, traveller and painter who loves colour and chaos. She exhibits regularly in the Art Trax Gallery, Beaufort. “We’ve had a lot of fun working on this project,” she said. “I think what’s going to...

Tomas Lineker

Tomas Lineker is a visual artist who favours the bold and bright while combining abstract and still life. Mr Lineker has exhibited in New York and London. His work usually features in city galleries so he was excited by the chance to work close to home. “We painted i...

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