Clancy’s Campfire

I’m in Canberra for the day today, visiting hubby’s mother. Tomorrow we’ll be heading south for our (mostly) annual camping trip. Our destination is a locality called Eucumbene – in the south of NSW near the Snowy Mountains. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Cooma and the same from Jindabyne and in the winter that means it’s cold.

We’re meeting my brother and his family down there – although there will, sadly, due to other (more exciting) sporting & uni (not so exciting) commitments, be a few of our usual party missing this year.

When we lived in Sydney it was something that we did annually, but from South East Queensland it’s more of an expedition. It is, however, something that we enjoy so much it’s worth making the trek.

We’ll be in Eucumbene for a long weekend, staying in what used to be worker’s cabins from the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. We sleep in sleeping bags so, in a way, it feels like camping – or at least glamping – so that’s what we call it.  My brother, however, is made of tougher stuff and sleeps outside in his swag.

Although we have a kitchen inside, we cook outside. There’s a bathroom inside as well as an outside dunny with no door and a view to the bush and any passing kangaroo. We have a television for DVDs – there’s no TV reception – and aside from one point just outside the kitchen window, there’s no mobile reception.

During the day we take drives up the mountain to find snow for the kids to play in, rivers for the 4 wheel drives to do their thing in, and country to explore. We take walks with the kids to look for kangaroos, practice our whip cracking skills, pop popcorn and toast marshmallows on the fire.

Mostly though, it’s about the campfire and the cooking. Other than breakfast, everything needs to be cooked outside – even when it’s snowing. One year it was sheeting down, and we still managed to turn out excellent meals but didn’t need to walk back and forth to the fridge for our beers.

Each year we look forward to this weekend possibly more than any other thing we do. Here are some of the reasons why:

It’s an excuse to wear a real flannelette shirt and wear a hat…

The flanny I’m talking about is the outdoor flanny. Even if there’s no snow, it’s cold enough for beanies and gloves and lumberjackets and flannelette.

me in a hat

It’s a reason to visit a boating, camping and fishing type of store… 

We wander the aisles and fantasise about loading up an old landrover and heading out into the middle of nowhere with all of our super camping accessories. Of course, we rarely buy anything and would probably never do the real roughing it thing – I like a flushing toilet and a comfy bed too much – but it’s fun to dream.

Last time I picked up this enamel mug that I now drink my wine out of. I’m all class. Sarah brought another one back from NZ for me that I’ll drink red wine out of.

You get to use a jaffle iron…

Sure, you can have your electric sandwich makers, but I’m talking a real, heavy, takes ages to cook (and even longer for the contents to cool) jaffle iron. We talked last week about what a good jaffle should comprise.

Cooking in a camp oven is a challenge…

The theory is that anything you can cook in a normal oven, you can cook in one of these cast iron babies – in theory. That’s it in the pic below. The reality is different. We’ve had some roaring successes and some serious failures. I still recall the night our slow cooked beef (containing 2 bottles of very drinkable red wine) boiled dry in 20 minutes. Now we know it has something to do with the boiling qualities of alcohol, but back then? No idea – and with Jindy and Cooma so far away dinner that night was cheese and bikkies for us and 2 minute noodles for the kids. 

The thing with a camp oven is that it doesn’t go on the fire as such – the temperature is controlled by its proximity to the fire and the coals above and below it. Yes, it’s technical. As a result, the boys spend a lot of time digging the pit for the camp oven, and much more time tending the fire.

Each year we have a culinary challenge that the bulk of our weekend is centred around. One year it was curries, another year it was the lunchtime pizza challenge and the jaffle challenge. Thankfully none of us is competitive…much!

It’s so quiet out there…

The bush has its own noise, but it’s a different noise. It’s also more effective for the removal of stress than anything else I know – except perhaps the ocean.

There’s the wind through the trees, the rustle of leaves, the sound of a roo bounding around through the scrub, a cow somewhere nearby. The birds sound different too. Out there the magpies warble and the kookaburras really laugh. There’s the occasional flash of colour as the red or blue breast of a wren darts between branches. Even the snow that falls so softly, has all sorts of cracks and creaks associated with the melt.

As for the stars… don’t even get me started on how beautiful the stars are at night.

Do you camp? Or glamp? Any favourite jaffle or camp oven recipes you’d like to share?

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Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

10 thoughts

  1. I have tried camping but these days, the only camping I’ll do is in a hotel! I just like my creature comforts too much! This looks like great fun though and I can’t wait to hear all about it on your return. Is there a cooking challenge this year or is it yet to be decided? I know you’re not competitive but I’m sure you’ll be Masterchef of the Camp Fire!

    1. There is a photography challenge this year, but other than that it will involve the jaffles & a 2 course meal prepared & cooked outside. We also have a joint challenge – to make a pie using the fire. I’m responsible for the pastry & my bother will do the filling. Fingers crossed.

  2. I wanna go too! It looks fantastic! I love rugging up and sitting by campfires and the great outdoors and all of the above. We don’t go camping or even glamping but it’s something I’d like to do (a bit more glamping than camping nowadays). Have a wonderful time! #TeamLovinLife

  3. You make it sound like so much fun Jo!! I love the pic of you in the hat and I can only imagine how cold it gets as I sit inside near the fire. Lovely descriptions and pics! Enjoy 🙂

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