Cape York

Experience : Cape York – Part 1

Cape York

 

Cape York was not what we expected.  We thought it would be lush and tropical with thick rainforest everywhere, but it wasn’t like that at all.  The roads were dry and dusty, and there was a lot of mining activity around Weipa because of the bauxite mine.  Also, an unusual blanket of cloud was cast over the sky for a number of days, which was both welcomed because of the coolness of the days but cursed because sometimes you just want sunshine.

 

The landscape of the Cape is very diverse and includes areas of bush scrub and heath lands, pockets of rainforest and coastal scrub with coconut trees and mangroves.  All the rivers rise from the Great Dividing Range, which extends all the way to the Tip.  The road conditions are also variable, with corrugated dirt roads broken up by sections of sealed road, as well as sandy or eroded 4WD tracks.

 

The main attractions of Cape York are the Tip and the Overland Telegraph Track.  Many 4WD enthusiasts flock to the Cape for some serious off-road action, while a picture at the northernmost point of Australia is worth framing.  There is also plenty of fishing to be done, as well as camping and bird watching.

 

Before you head to the Cape, check out information on camping permits, alcohol restrictions and quarantine zones.

 

DAY 1

We woke up at Rifle Creek Rest Area just south of Mount Molloy and got going fairly early.  The plan was to get all the way to Coen before dinner and we had about 450km to travel.

 

As we passed through Mount Carbine, we saw the open mine to the right, and stopped at Bob’s Lookout as we travelled along the windy road past Mount Desailly and Mount Elephant.  We had a quick lunch at Musgrave Roadhouse before finishing the last stretch to Coen.

 

Cape York

 

Coen

A very small town with all the basics – the SExchange Hotel, a post office combined with a grocery store, a takeaway joint and a mechanic, as well as a health centre and other government buildings.  It was established as a fort on the river in 1873 due to a gold rush in the area.  We went straight to the SExchange for a beer and were a little surprised that we were the only ‘white fellas’ in the place, other than the tiny Asian bar wench.  It’s to be expected, considering that 80% of Coen’s population are indigenous.

 

That night, we camped at the Bend a few clicks out of town.  It’s a beautiful spot right on the Coen River, with clear water for bathing and plenty of birdlife to gawk at in the morning.

 

 

Day 2

Today was Dave’s Birthday and his present was a tilt level orb for the Troopy – it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time with all the 4WDing that was ahead of us.

 

We continued on the Peninsula Developmental Road for another 25km and arrived at the quarantine check point, where we learnt that we can bring fruit into the Cape but can’t take any fruit that we’ve picked off trees out of the Cape.  Many pest insects have blown over from PNG and infected fruit trees such as mangos, bananas and any other tropical fruits.

 

Weipa

The road to Weipa was shithouse – full of corrugation, bouncy bumps and bull dust with only a few sections that are paved.

 

 

Weipa is an odd town, with a landscape ruined by the local mining industry.  It’s not organised like other towns – there is no main street with all the shops that you need, everything is spread out, which is a little inconvenient.  There’s a Woolies supermarket for stocking up on groceries, Telstra reception (but no Optus), cheap fuel ($1.63 for diesel), and camping permits can be booked at the caravan park.

 

Our first stop was the Albatross Hotel for a drink, and we were inundated with friendly locals who, after about 20 minutes, revealed their motivations for chatting to us – they wanted a lift to Mapoon, about 90km to the north.  We then moved to the Weipa Bowls Club for Dave’s birthday lunch.

 

Weipa

 

Once we had done everything we needed to do, we did some sight-seeing near Evan’s Landing and continued our journey to the Tip.  On the way, we crossed the Wenlock River and noticed a sign in the tree…

 

Cape York

 

Moreton Telegraph Station

With no free camps in the area, we pulled in at Moreton Station.  It cost $10 each to camp and we had the luxury of a hot shower and flushing toilets but the annoyance of generators running until about 10pm.  Camping permits can also be booked at reception.

 

Day 3

In the morning, we were woken up by the hideous squawk of birds that sounded like the freakish score from Psycho.  We packed up, showered again and hit the road.

 

Bramwell Junction Roadhouse

This is a great place to stop before embarking on the Old Telegraph Track.  Get information about the condition of the track, top up your fuel tank or tuck into some food.  There are also toilets and a tap with drinkable water, if required.

 

Cape York

 

Old Telegraph Track

The OTT is remnants of the original telegraph track from the 1880s that connected Cairns with Thursday Island.  The last Morse code message was sent in 1962 and then systems upgraded to microwave repeater towers.  The Cape York Developmental Road replaced the track in the 1970s but it’s still used today by 4WD enthusiasts.

 

We loved the Old Telegraph Track – check out our post here.

 

Cape York

 

Jardine Ferry

The price for the ferry might be extortion, but it’s the only way to get to the Tip by road.  Not too many years ago, you could follow the OTT all the way to up to the Jardine River east of where the ferry runs.  The crossing point has now been conveniently dredged and is unpassable, thereby forcing everyone to use the ferry.   The $129 fare is supposed to maintain the ferry and other stuff, but we didn’t see how that could be true considering the state of the place.  The ferry is owned by the Northern Peninsula Area council, who hiked up the price in 2013 because they were financially screwed.  Until they build a bridge, tourists heading to the top are going to have to pay the piper.

 

Croc Tent

We cruised through the aboriginal communities and headed straight for the Tip, but we did stop at the Croc Tent, and we recommend that you do too.  It was by far the most informative place we stopped at since we left Mareeba.  The guy gave us a free map of the Tip, and made a few recommendations on where to camp.

 

Cape York

 

The Tip

We made it to the Tip car park just before sunset and because the tide was down, we walked along the beach to the rocky headland to find the infamous sign.  The Tip of Australia is located 10° south of the equator and is only 180km from PNG.  After Dave made a phone call to a mate, we headed back to the Troopy for some dinner.

 

Cape York

 

In the meantime, a guy we met on the OTT, Tony, rocked up with his friend Tim.  After a quick chat in the dimming light, we went to check out a nearby abandoned resort for a potential place to camp.  We found an overgrown driveway, slowly inched the Troopy in but found the whole place way too creepy, so we slowly inched the Troopy back down the driveway and CLUNK!  We couldn’t figure out what we had hit so we turned the Troopy around and went back to the beach.

 

Tony and Tim were just about to set up on the beach when we returned.  We let them know that the resort was not an option, and the beach was too risky because of the tides, so we ended up setting up camp in the car park.  This is when the CLUNK revealed its point of impact – the Troopy’s bumper, which bent upwards to jam the back door – where we sleep, where our food is, where Dave’s tools are to fix the bumper.  We spent the rest of the evening laughing at how funny it all was, while Tony and Tim helped out with tools and beer.

 

Cape York

 

Day 4

We had a slow start in the morning because the bumper and rear lights needed to be put back on, and we didn’t leave the car park until about 10am.  We explored the abandoned resort and it was much less scary than it was the night before.  We then went to check out a camping spot near Somerset that was recommended by the guy at the croc tent.

 

Somerset

Despite being a dull, cloudy day, the beach at Somerset was beautiful but there was still a lot of junk everywhere.  There was even some sort of junk shrine, decorated with thongs, bottles, buoys and hats.  The hellish toilets show no sign of benefitting from the Jardine Ferry fare and the campground was scattered with collapsed humpies.

 

Cape York

 

5 Beaches Track

Following the coast in a south easterly direction from Somerset, the 5 Beaches 4WD track crosses rocky headlands and sandy beaches, and is a relatively easy track with some great views.  There is plenty of colourful washed-up rubbish and coral on the beaches if you’re into fossicking for crap that may have potentially floated over from PNG.  We spotted bush tucker on the side of the track too, and would have tried to get some if the bushes weren’t infested with green ants.

 

 

Once we got to the 4th beach, we found a track leading to a clearing of oak trees that was reasonably sheltered from the wind.  We set up camp and tried a new SPAM recipe – Spam Bacon Carbonara – which ended up being quite good.  Check out the recipe here.

 

 

SPAM Bacon Carbonara

Recipe : SPAM Bacon Carbonara

SPAM Bacon Carbonara

 

Just in case you’re thinking that we store SPAM as a regular staple in our pantry, we don’t, but after the few recipes that we’ve tried, we might have to include it.  Tinned tuna and sardines can get tiresome after a while so when fresh meat isn’t available, SPAM does the trick.  Here is another delicious recipe that we tried out while camping at Somerset on Cape York – super easy and super yummy, we had to add it to our SPAM series.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tin of SPAM with bacon
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic (depending on how much you love garlic)
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1-2 tsp butter
  • 1 packet of quick Carbonara pasta (we used San Remo)
  • Spring onion, pepper and chilli flakes to taste

 

 

Method

  • Dice the SPAM and finely chop the broccoli.
  • Heat olive oil in a pot and cook spam, broccoli and garlic together for about 5 minutes or until the SPAM is browning.
  • Add the required water for the Carbonara recipe and bring to the boil.
  • Add the butter and contents of the Carbonara packet. Stir and cook for the required length of time as specified on Carbonara packet.
  • Add chopped spring onion, pepper and chilli flakes to taste, dish out and eat. Serves 3.

 

This meal was delicious, even as leftovers the next day.  Really tasty.

 

SPAM Bacon Carbonara

 

Lorella Springs

Volunteering : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park

Lorella Springs

 

DAY 7 -10 : VOLUNTEERING

Over the next four days, we got our hands dirty and did odd jobs around Lorella Springs.  By volunteering, our accommodation and meals were all sorted, and we got two free drinks a day.  We also got the satisfaction of leaving our mark on Lorella Springs and getting to know the other volunteers better.

 

Not only did Juz team up with Rich in the kitchen to cook up lunches and dinners, she also painted a mural next to the bar using spray paint.  She had never used spray paint before, and corrugated iron is not the best canvas to work on, but she adapted and produced a mural that got lots of positive feedback.  Once the mural was complete, she moved over to a toilet block and painted a cockatoo for the boys and a pink galah for the girls.

 

Lorella Springs

 

Dave also helped out in the kitchen but his main task was digging trenches and running cabling for the cabins and safari tents with Brogan.  Dave also had time to check the Troopy’s rear right wheel, which had been making a grinding noise for the last few days.  Turns out the brake pads were worn down to nothing and the disc had been seriously damaged.  There was nothing he could do about it at Lorella Springs so we planned to replace the disc and brake pads in Tennant Creek.

 

Lorella Springs

 

We had planned to finally leave by our 10th day but there was a rumour going around that they were going to hold a pizza night and there was no way we were going to miss out on PIZZA!  We put together a capricciosa with anchovies and everyone got a slice of each pizza that was made.  We had our last drinks around the fire, prompting Rhett to tell stories about Lorella Springs, and we eventually went to bed promising ourselves that we would leave the next day…

 

Lorella Springs

 

Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #1

Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #2

 

Lorella Springs

Experience Paradise : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park – #1

Lorella Springs

 

The world is divided into two kinds of people – those who have been to Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, and those who haven’t been to Lorella Springs… yet.

 

We caught wind of Lorella Springs not long before we got to Darwin.  While we were only supposed to stay in Darwin for two months max, it was drawn out to 11 months and for the whole time, we had Lorella in the back of our minds.

 

Lorella Springs offers a remote wilderness for campers, hikers, 4WDing enthusiasts and everyone in between.  The property is so huge, there could be 100s of people in the park but you’d never know, and you could easily spend weeks exploring all the natural features.  The owner, Rhett Walker, has spent the last 30 years exploring Lorella Springs and says that he’s only explored about 20% of the ONE MILLION acres his property covers – his land is bigger than 29 countries!

 

Lorella is Rhett’s everlasting project – his labour of love.  He opened the wilderness park to the public in around 1998 and he has put so much work in to creating over 1000km of tracks that access hot springs, swimming holes, waterfalls, rivers and gorges so that everyone else can enjoy the beauty of his country.  Back in the early days, Rhett and his family pushed tracks through the bush with a couple of modified 4WDs.  It would sometimes take them weeks at a time to reach the new areas and make the waterfalls and swimming holes accessible.   Nowadays though, they’ve got a backhoe, but they still have to spend some time at the start of the each Dry Season re-clearing the old tracks.
The central campground sports a bar that offers delicious meals and Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm, a kiosk, laundry facilities and a book exchange. There is also Crusty Dick’s Bakery, which offers huge loaves of soft fresh bread, perfect for dipping into stews or with butter and jam.  A recent addition to Lorella’s attractions is a selection of helicopter flights to meet every budget.  Lorella Springs is closed during the Wet Season and reopens every year from the 1st of March until October.

 


Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

DAY 1

After 30km of shitty corrugated road that is owned by the council, we opened the gate to Lorella Springs and were greeted warmly by Marie, Rhett’s partner.  After we got a rundown of the park and were given a few maps, we sat down and had a well-deserved drink at the bar.  Dave spoke to Marie about park attractions and facilities while Juz chatted with Tim, one of the chopper pilots, about geckos and Lord of the Rings.  The day was still young so we pre-ordered our dinner and decided to go and check out some of the features that were close by.

 

On our way to a series of pools, we crossed Crocodile Springs, a pretty creek crossing with a small lagoon filled with waterlilies.  The turnoff for the pools was a few kilometres up and we decided to go all the way to the end of the track and work our way back to the campgrounds.

 

Lorella Springs

 

After crawling along in low range 4WD over the last 600m of very rocky and rough track, our first stop was Tawallah Pool.  We both jumped in for some fast refreshment, and Juz put her snorkel on to check out the little fishies.  We rock-hopped further down the gorge before heading back to the Troopy.

 

 

The next two pools were Fossil Fern and Emerald Pool.  Fossil Fern is so called because some of the rocks by the side of the pool have fossilised ferns in them.  While Juz was snorkelling in the water, Dave was trying to find the fossils.  Eventually he called out to Juz, “I can’t find the fossils!”, and she said, “That’s because you’re standing on them!”

 

 

Emerald Pool was a crystal clear pool with a white carpet of sand between the hairy water weeds, and plenty of little fishies.

 

We continued on to Wildfire Gorge & Tristan Pool.  The walk to Tristan Pool was along a rocky creek bed and marked with tape in the trees.  Wildfire Gorge was further on and the reflection of red rock in the still pool was beautiful.

 

Lorella Springs

 

The last stop of the day was Inkspot Pool.  While we didn’t go in, we could see how fun it would be to launch off the rocks.  Because it was so close to the track that leads to other locations within the park, we ended up visiting Inkspot Pool several times during our stay with other volunteers at the park.

 

We made it back to the campground just in time for Happy Hour.  Even though the drinks are marginally cheaper, it is a great social event and a perfect opportunity to mingle with staff and other campers.  The dinner we ordered earlier was served at 6:30pm and both dishes were welcomed with wide eyes and hungry bellies.  Dave’s T-Bone was satisfyingly good, tender with great flavour, while Juz’s stuffed chicken was big and juicy, and stuffed with cheese and garlic.  Both meals came with crunchy hot chips, coleslaw, pineapple and beetroot.  Super yum…

 

Lorella Springs

 

DAY 2

We started the day early and headed for the Waterslide.  We were initially hesitant (Juz was afraid she’d graze her bum), but Dave was brave enough to go first and it ended up being super fun!  We both went down the slide several times, giggling like schoolgirls. The rocky path continued beyond the slide to Indiana Falls.  While the trail was overgrown, we eventually got to the top pool and were rewarded with a refreshing swim.

 

 

Next was the Musterers Cave, one of our favourite locations.  It’s a short climb to the cave and inside it are old saddle parts from when the cave was used as storage during the wet season years and years ago.  If you take a few more steps into the cave, you’ll be surrounded by the sound of crunchy wings flapping, as massive dragonflies hover around you every time you move.  If you have a torch, you’ll be able to see the microbats too.  We exited the cave and checked out the rock art and amazing views around to the left.  We also saw a friendly Northern Spiny Tail Gecko with amazing eyes and a spiky tail.

 

 

Our next destination was the Arches, but the path disappeared in a dry creek bed and we got lost.  We ended up climbing an escarpment to the left instead of heading right.  Sure, we had nice views at the top, but it wasn’t the Arches, so we went back to the Troopy and started again.  We eventually found the Arches, and after a rest, we found the (now obvious) path that brought us back to the Troopy.

 

Lorella Springs

 

Our last stop was the Valley of the Springs.  Rhett told us great things about this place but we were so exhausted, we only got about 200m from the Troopy before we realised we didn’t have the energy to continue.  We turned back and ducked into Inkspot for a refreshing swim before returning to the campground.  When we got back and told Rhett, he said we only had to breach the hilltop and the amazing rock formations would have been there.  Bugger…

 


That afternoon, we had a therapeutic dip in the Magical Spring that is only 30 meters from the bar.  It’s a shaded, banana tree-lined pool with very friendly fish that will nibble on you if you give them the chance.

 

After we cleaned ourselves up, we went to the bar for a quick drink before attempting the Sunset Walk.  About halfway to the top of the escarpment, we saw a rainbow, and then the dark clouds dumped a bunch of rain on us.

 

Lorella Springs

 

By the time we got back to the bar, we were soaked through.  We did a quick costume change and returned for more socialising with the other campers.  We met two fellow travellers – Mel and Kell – who had just spent the last few nights at Nannies Retreat.  Mel is an entomologist and Juz loves critters so they had plenty to talk about, including that beautiful gecko that Juz spotted at Musterers Cave.

 

Lorella Springs

 

DAY 3

It was a rough start after the previous night’s revelry, but we were determined to complete another section of Lorella Springs and made our way towards Teardrop Falls.  It was slow going for most of the way because of the rocky track, and we even burst a tyre on the way.

 

Lorella Springs 2014-05-16 498

 

When we finally arrived, it was all worth it.  Water sprinkled into the lower pool and the sun cast a rainbow in the spray.  We climbed up the mountain to the top pools, one of which was down in a rocky basin.  We scaled the sheer wall and had a refreshing dip in the clear pool, and even saw the reason why it’s called Teardrop Falls.  This was definitely one of our favourite spots in Lorella, and is also a really popular destination for the chopper flights.

 

 

We checked out the Mountain on the Edge of the Clouds on the way back – a great lookout into Gateway Gorge and Little Rosie River below.   We continued along the track to where the river crosses the track and there was a canoe waiting for us.  Dave took control of the oar and paddled Juz down the river while trying to sing like a Venetian gondolier.  Juz told him to shut up so that she could enjoy the tranquillity of their surroundings.

 

 

We briefly stopped by Hidden Pools – three cascading swimming pools, before setting up camp at Snapping Handbag Billabong.  Juz cooked up some SPAM Turkey Burgers while Dave fished in the billabong.  As we got ready for sleep, we could hear splashing and sploshing, which were probably cane toads, fish and/or crocodiles, and these noises continued throughout the night.

 

A cane toad at Lorella Springs

 

Experience : Lorella Springs Wilderness Park #2
Volunteer at Lorella Springs

SPAM Turkey Burgers

Recipe : SPAM Turkey Burgers

SPAM Turkey Burgers

 

We had already tried SPAM ham with cabbage and onions, and liked it, so Juz was keen on another SPAM Recipe – this time, Turkey Burgers!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 can of SPAM turkey breast, cut into four slices.
  • Mustard, mayo, butter or whatever sauces you prefer
  • Spinach, lettuce or whatever greenery you like
  • Cheese slices
  • Bread

 

Method

  • Cut SPAM Turkey into four slices.  Heat up pan and put slices in for cooking.
  • Once cooked on one side, flip and place a slice of cheese onto the turkey slices.
  • Once the cheese has melted, turkey is ready to be put into bread with whatever fillings you want.

 

SPAM Turkey Burgers

 

While it didn’t necessarily taste like turkey, we did notice the meat to be quite salty.  Not that it was a bad thing.  We both enjoyed the turkey burgers (with mustard, mayo, butter and spinach in Dick’s crusty bread) and said we would eat it again.

 

SPAM Turkey Burgers

 

SPAM Cabbage

Recipe : SPAM Cabbage

SPAM Cabbage

 

After listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast about SPAM, Juz was really curious about what it tastes like.  Having everlasting ham on hand could be a good thing, right?  She decided to buy a can and experiment with a few recipes.  This is the first time she has ever cooked with the stuff, and it turned out surprisingly edible… and good, possibly because we had very low expectations.

 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 can of SPAM, diced
  • ½ tsp each of mustard seed, Italian herbs, cumin and paprika
  • 1/8 of cabbage, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chilli flakes (optional)

 

Method

  • Add garlic, onion, butter and oil to pan and sauté.
  • Add SPAM and spices and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir cabbage through, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, depending on how soft you like your cabbage.  If you want it to be more moist, use a little bit more butter.
  • Add chilli and serve.

 

SPAM Cabbage

 

Dave’s first impressions were that the SPAM was tender and melted in the mouth.  It didn’t have a strong flavour, and whatever flavour it did have wasn’t horrible.  Perhaps the other ingredients masked the flavour of the SPAM too well. Would we eat it again? YES!

 

SPAM Cabbage

 

Egg, bacon & zucchini

Cooking : Stuff you can cook on a free BBQ

One of the things that have been consistently useful while we’ve been travelling around Australia are the free electric or gas BBQ facilities at various parks.  You will find one in nearly every town that you pass through, and it’s a quick and easy way to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner, fish, poultry, steak, vegetables, and even dessert!

 

Because public facilities have a tendency to be a bit scummy, it’s a good idea to have some foil and spray oil with you.  Start off by spraying the BBQ plate before laying a sheet of foil down that spans the whole width of the plate.  Spray more oil on the foil and press the BBQ button to start the heating process.  This ‘Foil and Oil’ method will protect your food from dirty BBQs and it makes cleaning up heaps easier at the end.

 

Foil & Oil

 

If you’re sick of cold sandwiches or expensive takeaway, here are a few ideas that you can whip up in no time!

 

 

Breakfast Extravaganza

If you’re craving for a big breakfast, turn to your trusty electric BBQ.

 

Bacon rashers work really well, as do sliced mushroom with oil, S&P and herbs, sliced tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar, haloumi with lemon juice, chipolatas and sausage.

 

Eggs can be prepared either scrambled or fried.  For scrambled eggs that are a bit specky, whisk your eggs with some thickened cream, thyme and goat cheese or fetta.  Pour your eggs on the hot plate over caramelise onions and you’ll be in flavour country within minutes.

 

If you have foil and spray oil, craft an ‘egg tray’ with a flap that you can fold over to make a lid. Spray the tray with oil before cracking your eggs into it and about halfway through, fold the lid over the eggs to contain the heat so that the top can cook.  Once the eggs are done, flip the egg tray onto your plate, or make a yummy sandwich or wrap with some Caesar dressing, cos lettuce and shards of parmesan cheese and cooked bacon.

 

MEAT

Red meat can be expensive at times, but if you visit the supermarkets in the morning, chances are good that you’ll find a super awesome special or reduced item.  We’ve struck gold with $5 kangaroo steaks, $3.50 pork steaks and the occasional $4 lamb chop.

 

Heat up the BBQ, season the meat with a bit of salt, pepper and your favourite seasoning, and cook until you’re satisfied.

 

 

Fish

Basa fillets are only $8 a kilo and have a beautiful texture and mild flavour.  Popcorn salt is great to season the fillets while cooking, and you can even wrap them in foil for a more steamed effect.

 

Meat Biscuits

Economical, convenient and delicious – a marvellous trifecta that makes meat biscuits so great.  Check out Juz’s post on how to make a batch of meat biscuits.

 

Vegetables

Caramelising onions requires salt, pepper, oil, butter, vinegar, sugar (optional) and patience.  You need to cook them nice and slowly for between 20-40 minutes to achieve the best results.  The aim of the game is to get the natural sugars to caramelise, giving them a rich sweet flavour – balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar assist with the caramelisation process and give the onions a little boost in flavour.   Use in sandwiches, atop steak or stir through scrambled eggs.

 

Vegetable medallions are a great way to get some veggies in your day.  Slice up discs of sweet potato, zucchini, pumpkin or parsnip and flap onto the hot plate with some S&P, herbs and spices.  For a kooky twist, try a sprinkle of cinnamon on your parsnip or sweet potato.

 

Asparagus, capsicum and eggplant also work well on the hotplate, or you can even make up a few veggie kebabs – YUM!

 

 

 

Fruit

Crazy talk!  Slice up your apple, nectarine, pear or pineapple and sear it on the hotplate before topping with a drizzle of honey and a dollop of yoghurt.  Figs, bananas and peaches also make for a delicious treat, or you can go tutti fruity and make a colourful kebab.

 

Pancakes

You can either make your own batter with some milk, flour, bi-carb and egg, or get some ‘just add water and shake’ stuff from the supermarket.  Pancakes are great with hazelnut spread and cream cheese, fruit and honey, peanut butter or your favourite jam.

 

If you want to get crazy, pour the pancake batter over bacon as it’s frying and you can have ‘panbaconcakes’, which are awesome on their own, drizzled with maple syrup, or topped with scrambled eggs.

 

Panbaconcakes

 

Do you take advantage of free BBQs while travelling?  What’s your favourite thing to cook on a BBQ?

 

 

Panbaconcakes

Recipe : Pan’bacon’cakes

Hello – Juz here…  Allow me to blow your mind.

 

A few years ago, I went on a cooking adventure and made a turbaconducken.  Cooking the turbaconducken was so much fun and it was so delicious, it inspired me to create panbaconcakes.

 

Panbaconcakes

 

Panbaconcakes are an absolute treat and making them is super easy. They are simply pancakes embedded with bacon.

 

Method

  1. Cut up bacon into small pieces and cook on BBQ or frypan to your desired crispiness.
  2. Prepare pancake batter (whether you want to make your own from scratch or purchase some shake’n’bake batter – up to you).  We used a maple syrup flavoured pancake mix and put in enough water in so that it was runny but still thick and gooey.
  3. Pour pancake batter onto hot plate/pan and sprinkle with bacon pieces.
  4. Once one side is cooked, flip and cook the other side.
  5. Serve on its own or with a fried egg, maple syrup, slices of cheese or chocolate spread.

 

 

Enjoy…

 

 

Recipe : Damper

Recipe : Damper

Sometimes, making your own bread is much more economical than buying loaves that can go moldy in a few days.  Here is a recipe for plain damper, as well as some flavour suggestions if you want to mix it up a bit…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tbs butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 175ml milk OR 175ml water with milk/yoghurt powder

 

 

Method

  • Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
  • Put the butter in and rub between fingers to make a breadcrumb-looking mixture.
  • Add the liquids and combine.  Knead into a ball of dough – if it’s too wet, add more flour and if it’s too dry, add more liquid.
  • Place dough ball into a small oiled pan and flatten with fist to make a disc shape. Put into a pre-heated dutch oven (with a wire rack inside to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning) for around 15-25 minutes, depending on how hot the oven is.
  • You’ll know it’s done when it’s a nice golden colour and the damper feels puffy instead of squishy.  It’s still going to be moist in the centre – but that’s just how we like it.

 

Recipe : Damper

 

Cheese & Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in pieces of cheese and diced bacon before baking.

 

 

Chocolate DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

 

Choc Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao with bacon bits.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Bacon Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

If you are curious about how much cheese, bacon or chocolate to add, use the Juz scale.  If you like bacon a lot, add lots of bacon.  If you like chocolate a little bit, add a little bit of chocolate, and so on.

 

Future recipe ideasBanana, Banana Chocolate, Choc Orange, Olive, Hawaiian (ham, cheese and pineapple), Italian (green olives, tomato, basil), Greek (feta, kalamata olive, lamb), Herb & Garlic

 

Do you have any kooky damper flavours?

 

Noodles from Chinatown

Eating In : Chinatown, Broome WA

We were excited about having some Asian food when we got to Broome but as usual, the price was not right.  We simply could not justify spending that amount of money for one meal, when we could easily feed the both of us for the same price or less.

 

Juz had a brainwave – “Why don’t we go to Yuen Wing General Store, grab some kooky Asian noodles and cook them back at the hostel?” DEAL!  We went to Yuen Wing and had the choice of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean noodles.  Dave went with Chinese beef and mushroom flavoured Koreano noodles while Juz went with Vietnamese Oh! Ricey Instant Pho noodles and chicken flavoured Koreano noodles.

 

Noodles from Chinatown

 

We scored two pots from the Kimberley Klub YHA reception and got to work in the communal kitchen.  Dave’s noodles were the egg sort so he put both packets into the water to cook simultaneously.  Juz had Korean egg noodles and Vietnamese rice noodles so the cooking time was a bit staggered.

 

The flavour of the noodles were standard – salty and non-descript – but Juz noticed a real change in aroma when she added the flavour packet from her Vietnamese noodles.  The star anise and cloves really came out and combined well with the typical chicken flavouring of the Korean noodles, while Dave’s beef and mushroom noodle combination was tasty but a bit spicy for his liking.

 

We ate in the courtyard out of the pot to save on dishes.  All in all, it was a lovely Asian lunch at a great price – $5 all up!

 

 

Apple, onion and herb topping!

Review : Kitchen King Pro

Before we left for our adventure, Dave saw that Juz would be missing her food processor so he got her a very special present – a Kitchen King Pro.

 

This tool is basically a hand-powered food processor.  It has super sharp blades that cut though vegetables like butter, and once you’ve made a nice salad or salsa, simply remove the blades and eat straight out of the bowl.  Juz has chopped up a variety of things like onions, carrots, broccoli, apple, chickpeas and bananas within seconds!

 

 

Want to make salsa? 

Chuck in some onion, tomatoes and coriander with cumin, lemon juice and jalapeños!

Want to make veggie patties?

Chuck your veggies in and process until fine before adding egg and seasoning.

Want to make Juz’s delicious cookie dough recipe?

Chickpeas, honey and peanut butter are no match for the Kitchen King Pro.

 

Apple, onion and herb topping!

 

The Kitchen King Pro also comes with a whisking blade accessory if you want to beat eggs or make pancakes, a vegetable slicer and an egg white separator.  The ultimate camp kitchen tool!

 

 

What’s your ultimate kitchen tool?

 

 

 

Cookie Dough - peanut butter

Recipe : Cookie Dough

This recipe requires one of two things – chronic elbow grease and a sturdy fork to mash and mix the ingredients together, or a food processor, electric or manual, to make light of the hard work.  Dave surprised Juz with a Kitchen King Pro on her birthday last year and this tool works wonders at chopping onions, carrots, making salsa and yummy, healthy desserts like Cookie Dough!

 

As usual, this recipe is simple, delicious, does not require any added sugar and adaptable to everyone’s tastes.

 

THE BASE

1 can chickpeas, drained

3 tbs honey, golden syrup or maple syrup.  You can use stevia if you want.

3 tbs peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

1 tsp of vanilla essence

A pinch of baking powder

 

 

Combine all the base ingredients and process until smooth like cookie dough.

 

Chickpeas are a great source of fibre and have been known to increase satiety when they’re included in your diet.  Peanut butter is a good source of protein and heart healthy fat, and is utterly delicious, while natural, unprocessed honey has a variety of health benefits, such as antibacterial and antifungal properties, phytonutrients and antioxidants

 

Now, you can eat it like this if you want, or you can put it into a pan or muffin tins and bake it.  However, you can increase the flavour sensation with these suggestions.

 

 

FLAVOUR ENHANCERS

These can be added during or after the creaming, whatever pleases you.

  • A handful of dried fruit pieces
  • Bailey’s or Kahlua – party time!
  • Choc chips – this is a great option if you plan to bake your dough
  • Cinnamon – a natural sweetener with a range of health benefits, including blood sugar control and super antioxidant powers
  • Crushed biscuit pieces
  • Crushed nut pieces
  • M&M’s
  • Overripe banana – a great way to use up squishy bananas.  This will make the mixture moister and smack you with some potassium and fibre
  • Protein powder – extra flavour and amino acids
  • Raw cacao powder – chocolate cookie dough full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

 

Stir through and enjoy.  You can even spread it on a cracker…

 

Cookie Dough - om nom nom!

 

Dinner time!

Travel Jobs : Helpx – Helping out a family

We found out about Helpex before leaving for our adventure and promised ourselves that if we have the opportunity, we would give it a go.  The first opportunity arose before we left Perth when we answered an ad to help out a family of four over the school holidays.  With the dad working long and irregular hours and the mum away for two weeks in Perth for university, the five year old girl and seven year old boy needed entertaining and the house needed to be maintained.

 

Week  1

We spent the weekend with the house to ourselves while the family went to Perth to watch a footy match.  This gave us an opportunity to settle in to our room and get to know Geraldton before we got busy Helpexing.  The house was in a prime location about 3km from town with a fantastic view of Champion Bay.

 

Fishing at the Batavia Marina

The first week was a challenge.  We didn’t know the kids very well – their routine, what they liked to eat, how to keep them occupied.  We were lucky that they were great kids and easily found things to do like drawing, jumping on the trampoline and playing with toys.  They were so well behaved, listened to instructions and spent more time learning to read and write than worrying about what was on TV.  As they were so well behaved, by the Tuesday we were confident enough to head down to the marina with them to do some fishing.

 

Taking care of the house was easy.  Wipe surfaces, sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathroom, load the dishwasher then put the dishes away, load the washing machine then hang out laundry and fold when dry.

 

The mum returned over the weekend and it was a great opportunity for us to reflect on the week that had past and what we could do better.  We decided to make a plan for the week first thing on Monday.

 

Week 2

The second week was much more organised and the kids were happier for it.  They had play dates with other kids at the park and we took them to the movies and the museum, as well as to Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park.  We even got to tuck them in a few times and read them bedtime stories, and when they got a bump or a scratch, we knew what to do or say to make them feel better.

 

 

On the days when we took the kids out in the morning, they were allowed to relax a bit in the afternoon with a DVD.  The boy usually chose a nature documentary while the girl chose the same thing every time – Disney’s Robin Hood. We must’ve seen it five or six times in the two weeks we were there!

 

Juz was more confident at lunch and dinner time.  Instead of experimenting with the kids’ palate, she just asked them what they wanted and noticed a pattern.  They liked ham, cheese, honey on toast, chicken skewers and steamed vegetables in their original form, not pureed into an indistinguishable mash.

 

 

Dave helped out around the house – he repaired door knobs, fixed salt grinders, installed gutters and helped with the gardening, walking Henry the Labrador and feeding the chickens.

 

A Geraldton sunset...

 

PROs

  • We got to stay at a beautiful house that was clean and spacious with a beautiful view of the ocean
  • We got to meet Jeremy – a young Frenchie who is also travelling around Australia.  He was supposed to leave for a farm job when we arrived, but after a few days, he returned and we ended up being great pals.  He helped with dinner, cleaning and other outdoor jobs and in the evenings we’d watch a movie or go on a pub crawl.
  • Conversation was stimulating – our hosts were great conversationalists and we learnt a lot about farming, the environment, fishing, politics and raising kids.  We felt comfortable with each other and weren’t afraid to get colloquial.

 

CONs

  • We had to work around their schedule, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because kids thrive on routine, but we had to ditch plans to go to the Camping and Caravan Show in town because we needed to prepare a roast lunch for the family.
  • Taking care of kids can be stressful – particularly when you’re tired or you want alone time.  They can be fussy and it can be hard to not be offended when they reject the food you’ve cooked, and when it comes to discipline, you just don’t know how far to go.

 

 

As we drove away from Geraldton, we looked at each other and smiled.  The two weeks we spent with our Helpex family taught us so much about living in a regional city, about living next to the ocean, about taking care of kids and a lot about ourselves and what we’re capable of.