Little Chef

source // flickr

source // flickr

Saturday, 25 March, 2017

Bicheno, Tasmania, Australia

When I was twenty-eight I remember buying a Toyota Camry and that could save the lives of possums. Well, up until recently that remained my greatest ever purchase. I then pulled out the cheque book and brought home (which, I guess, is technically the Camry for the time being – emphasising why it was previously my favourite ever buy) a portable gas cooker in Australia – it’s a tiny little thing; it can’t handle much more than a pot that could serve up to half a person or a baby, and would look embarrassing in any kitchen that’s remotely furnished.

However, this tiny little burner is a necessity that has vastly improved our working (still on two days!) holiday experience. It’s given us the opportunity to cook so much more. The added variety and options that now come with an evening meal are sensational – the days of breakfast bars for dinner are long gone. We have now advanced to warm baked beans, soup… hang on, this is starting to sound a lot like the tinned food my mum used to dig out of the cupboard and send me to school with each time the Harvest Festival came around. I guess I now finally see the value of the small gifts we provided for the homeless (I live in a car, kind of).

One evening last week, all the electrics went out in the campsite we were crashing at. The gas cooker really came to the rescue on that day. I look around, and everybody was sad-faced and starving, not us though, our little hero was sorting us out with some beans and tinned sausages (we treat ourselves on a Saturday).

Think of all those mugs, sitting around with their raw steaks still in the packets, while have to watch us enjoying some beans and sausages on bread (it was a good buy, but unfortunately can’t really help us out much when it comes to toast). Our fellow campers were definitely wishing they bought practically like us, rather than splashing out on those fancy house-tent things. Our tent came third on the priority list, and it’s pretty easy to tell that it wasn’t our number one concern.

The day the electrics went out did take its toll on everybody though, even us. We lost one of our plastic knives in the wind (the budget went on the crap car and the tiny stove; we’re testing if reusing plastic crockery for a full year will add up to the cost of a car).

I can see the billboards now.

5 cigarettes a day for an entire year = could save a rainforest
5 pints of beer a week for an entire year = could build fifty schools across Africa
Plastic crockery for an entire year = could buy you an eleventh-hand Toyota Camry

I suspect you think that we’ve just been sitting around eating considering the great purchase, but that isn’t the case, we’ve also managed to see a bit of Tasmania, too.

After Bruny Island we went to Port Arthur – an area famed for housing some of the world’s worst convicts of the 1800s. After reading about some of their crimes, I can’t help but feel they were a little bit hard done by. One of the lads got twelve years for stealing a loaf of bread.

It was pretty eerie, but also fascinating walking around the grounds of such a historical site. The standout buildings were probably the Separate Room and The Asylum – as they were for the lunatics that had done really bad crimes. These boys must have been robbing valuables that rank as highly as portable gas cookers, because they were given a pretty raw deal.

The inmates in The Separate Room were not allowed to make any kind of noise, even a cough or a fart would be severely punished, as it could be an attempted message to somebody in another cell. I understand the cough, but the fart? What kind of magicians do they think they have in there? ‘Ok, the warden has just unlocked the entrance door, the lads will be expecting a fart with a big echo now, I really better work on pushing that little bugger out’.  Apparently, maintaining the silence was considered so important that the guards would only talk to each other using sign language.

There is also an island called Isle of the Dead just a short boat ride away – which was where they buried some of the residents once they had passed away. That name’s a bit blunt and grim, isn’t it? They must have decided there was just no point in tarting it up with a name like ‘The Fallen Misguided Angels Resting Place’. I like to think that the island at least has fountains with cherubs holding stolen bread and park benches with ‘In Memory of Winston Wind: The Only Man to Ever Break out of The Separate Room by Using Fart-Code’ written on them.

On the subject of criminals, Monica got pulled over for speeding yesterday. She was doing fifty in a forty zone – the absolute nutter! Thankfully, she got let off with a caution. A fine would have had a serious impact on the plastic crockery experiment. Thank God she wasn’t around in the 1800s, that’s all I can say.

This week we have been driving along the east coast, and it has been full of fun. Maria Island, Wineglass Bay, Bay of Fires – Google them, yeah.

source // bicheno

source // bicheno

Sadly, I just don’t have the space to go into details about any of those things, because once again, I only want to start banging on about fish & chips, don’t I?

On 19th December 2016, I craved some fish & chips, went to ‘Spitroast’ in Sydney and was so disappointing with what they put in front of me, that I almost completely wrote off Australia’s capabilities when it comes to the greatest dish in the world.

Well, Australia, you better thank your lucky stars that I found the little town of Bicheno, and more specifically, The Gultch, because the fish & chips there were absolutely phenomenal. Light crispy batter, perfectly cooked chips – dinner that night was an absolute dream.

We’ll be having regular beans for dinner for at least four days due to the price, buy holy cow, was it worth it. Plus, our portable cooker knows how to cook beans to the perfect temperature, so at no point are we really losing.

That evening as we walked along the seafront, I did three of the tastiest burps ever. Each time I burped it reminded me of home. I’ve never really had a sentimental, patriotic burp like that before, and nor may I ever again, so I just cherished the moment.

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