THE story goes that the humble “billy can” got its name from the goldfields. In the early days of the diggings in NSW and Victoria, the miners consumed considerable quantities of tinned foods. One particular brand of beef, in big round cans, was known as “Bully Beef”. When the meat had been taken from the cans a wire handle was attached and the tins were used for cooking. The cans were at first called “bully cans”, but the name supposedly evolved into “billy cans”.
Photo: Bulli coal miner drinking from a billy can C1930. Fairfax Archives.