5 Gourmet Camp Cooking Hacks

Holidays on the road are incomplete without a scrumptious meal prepared around the campfire as you share stories while the sun sets on the horizon. However, preparing a mouthwatering dinner while on a road trip in an Australian campervan hired by family and friends can sometimes dampen your mood when all you wish to do is just stretch your legs and lay your back after an adventure-packed day outdoors.

Perhaps a few innovative ways to prepare more than just hot dogs and steaks is what you need in order to upgrade your campervan menu handed down to you by previous generations that have enjoyed the legendary Outback. It really is very easy to add fresh ideas into your favourite camping recipes.

So whether you’re camping with friends or family, make mealtimes more fun by checking out these few hacks on how you could make the most out of your campervan kitchen.

Learn to Improvise

First off, you must plan your meals. Avoid thinking of making dishes that would take forever to cook over a campfire (remember, everybody’s had a long day of adventures and are likely to be very hungry), or would require large and heavy pots and pans to prepare (you don’t have much room to bring your entire home kitchen with you). If you want to impress your mates with an elegantly cooked dinner, look for easy-to-prepare, readily available alternatives. Besides, meals that imbibe the rustic feel of a night at a campsite like pot roast with steamed vegetables or baked beans could be as good as a slab of beef from your favourite steak house.

You can also prepare a hearty breakfast using leftovers from last night’s dinner. Bring out the eggs and grate some cheese to create an omelette that would melt the sleep from your mate’s eyes. Squeeze a few fresh oranges and serve the juice in a pitcher and add some honey to give them that sun-kissed vibe to prepare them for another day outdoors.

Have a Knack for Nibbles

Sometimes, a hearty chatter at the campfire is best complemented with light snacks. Load up on fruits, nuts, and popcorn for starters. Nothing beats the combination of quirky conversations and the crackling of popcorn over a campfire.

"Popcorn” by White93 available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jt_white/4991059908/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

"Popcorn” by White93 available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jt_white/4991059908/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ BY White93

If you want something that would be akin to fine dining, try melting some dark chocolate on a pan where you can dip some fruits or marshmallows in it. Voilà, it’s like having your personalised fondue, camper style!

Speaking of marshmallows, a campfire huddle would not be complete if you’re not making s’mores. Try adding new ingredients to this classic campfire snack like candy sprinkles or using vegan marshmallows, as a healthier alternative.

Jostling Jaw Dropping Delights

There are certain dishes that are difficult to prepare outdoors. Examples are baked goodies such as cakes, pies, and brownies so most campers just buy from bake shops or bake them a few days before the camping trip. Well, you’re in luck because there are now innovative ways to make these without an oven, so you and your travel companions can enjoy freshly baked treats in the wild.

For instance, you could try baking brownies using orange peels. You can do this by cutting the top of the fruit and scooping off the pulp. This way, you would be creating a pocket for your brownie mix. Fill 2/3 of the pocket with your prepared batter. Put back the top and wrap the ball in aluminum foil. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes and you’ll have tangy orange-sized brownies for your mates!

You can also make pies using pita bread as an alternative for the traditional pie crust. Or why not try newspapers as an alternative to aluminum foil when cooking fish? The possibilities are endless. You’re camping – you can be as innovative as you want!

"Fish in Newspaper” by Beck available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/beckayork/3803452845/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Fish in Newspaper” by Beck available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/beckayork/3803452845/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Beck

Stock Up on the Essentials

After you have planned your meals, right down to your dessert options, it’s now time to stock up on the ingredients and outdoor equipment that you’d be using. Just remember only to bring the essentials, you’ve already planned what to prepare for your gourmet holiday. So, there’s no point in bringing excessive equipment and supplies.

This makes things quick and easy to set-up when you’re at the campsite. Also, this would make your holiday baggage lighter and easier to clean-up when you head back home. If this would be your first time taking a campervan holiday, bring  a sturdy cooler as well as a set of good roasters for your campfire. The rest of the supplies you’d be needing can easily be found in your kitchen cabinet like pots and pans, as well as dining utensils.

Clean as you go

Preparing wonderful meals during your campervan holiday can also be environmentally friendly. Just like the examples earlier, using alternatives to certain materials for cooking your meals would help reduce waste after your outdoor retreat.

Using old newspapers instead of aluminium foil to lock-in the flavours when grilling fish helps reduce your carbon footprint. Biodegradable materials could be turned to compost after using them for cooking your delectable treats, like the brownies stuffed in hollowed out orange peels. If you have a garden back at home, you can collect your biodegradable trash and turn them into home made fertilizer for your beautiful greens.

"Campfire” by Jeff Souville available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133326959@N03/17779428771/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

"Campfire” by Jeff Souville available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133326959@N03/17779428771/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ BY Jeff Souville

Just a friendly reminder, it’s a no-no to throw out your garbage at the campfire. It would be better to segregate your wastes and throw them properly after your holiday. Throwing garbage at the campfire not only adds up to the pollution in the surroundings. It could even start wildfires because you keep on adding fuel to the flame.

If that happens, you can wave goodbye to your gourmet campervan experience.

Camping can also be a gastronomic adventure, if you know how to turn home-cooked meals into gourmet dishes miles from the comforts and conveniences of your kitchen. All you need is some creativity and a breath of fresh air in the campsite. Now, why not make your own campervan memories? An Australian campervan hired at our website can help you make the most out of your self-drive holiday.

We always love to hear from you, so share with us your gourmet campfire cooking ideas and experiences today. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for more information on how to make your campervan holidays the best ever.

The Legendary Pacific Coast Road Trip between Sydney and Brisbane

Congratulations! You’ve booked a motorhome or campervan through Salamanda Travel and are looking forward to a self-drive holiday from Sydney to Brisbane (or Brisbane to Sydney). So the next thing is to find out what to do along the way. We will try and help you with that here.

Cheapa 6 Berth

The legendary Pacific Coast road is Australia’s national highway number one, stretches for approximately 1 000 km and is arguably Australia’s top tourist drive. On the way you will spot some signs showing the brown-coded scenic tourist route which points the way to some of the best beaches and most picturesque towns. It can be an adventure just to follow any of the Scenic Route drives without knowing where you will end up. Once there, you can visit local pubs and cafés – you never know who or what you’ll find. However, we also recommend planning some activities and places to visit before you start out on your road trip. Here is our list of some highlights along the way.

Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Australia and just a short trip west of Sydney. The most famous attraction in the park is the ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation. It’s a spectacular landmark, and highly recommended. Explore The Blue Mountains Bushwalks which are extensive and impressive. If you are looking for a more adventurous way to see the ‘Three Sisters’, you could ride the steepest passenger skyway in the world, the Scenic Skyway. Glide between clifftops and gaze at the rainforest canopy through the glass floor of the Scenic Skyway! Or go horse riding, and take one of the segway tours where you can discover the spectacular beauty of riding in the Blue Mountains in a different way.

Blue Mountains 2

Newcastle
A few hours drive north of Sydney, Newcastle is located in the heart of the Hunter Region and bordered by a stunning coastline with beautiful beaches. Take a dip in the “Bogey Hole” which was hacked out by convict labour in 1819. Once you see the Bogey Hole in real life you will realise what an achievement this was by the convicts. It was constructed by order of a commandant for his own personal bathing use.

Port Stephens
Further north again, Port Stephens offers a unique diversity of activities, especially for tourists. It is well worth discovering the ‘Great Lake Marine Park’, which is a 98,000-hectare marine reserve. You can also enjoy other water-related activities. The marine park was established by the NSW Government in December 2005, and has since developed into a stunning habitat full of diverse wildlife thanks to its rich variety of ecosystems. Go on a camel riding tour or a quad tour and experience the thrill of riding over the vast sand dunes of Port Stephens.

Port Macquarie
Further north from there, Port Macquarie is a bustling town with stunning beaches. Port Macquarie is known as the “Koala Capital” of Australia. Visit the Koala Hospital and Wildlife Park. There is a free Koala Hospital tour at 3pm every day.

Coffs Harbour
Heading towards the northern part of NSW is Coffs Harbour. No matter in what time of year you visit Coffs harbour, the area won’t fail to entertain and delight. Did you always want to travel to Holland and see how clogs are built? You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world – visit the Clog Barn to find a little piece of Holland in Australia. Take a leisurely walk around the model Dutch village with its miniature working windmills and working miniature railway. All the models are replicas of actual buildings in Holland. Visit Big Oma’s Coffee House, and taste some of the Dutch specialties, like croquettes, frikendellen and poffertjes.

Coffs Harbour has more to offer than just clogs. “Coffs” has some outstanding beaches, such as Gallows, Park Beach, Diggers, Sapphire, Emerald, Sawtell, Sandy and more. A popular attraction is the Big Banana,  one of the most photographed objects in Australia. Other attractions include a downhill taboggan ride, an ice skating rink and a waterslide.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay
On the way from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay, make sure you visit South West Rocks and Scott’s Head along the way. They both have a caravan park overlooking beautiful beaches. Byron Bay iself is recognized as one of the homes of alternative lifestyle culture in Australia. Make a short scenic journey into Byron’s hinterland to Crystal Castle  to see a slice of the alternative lifestyle. In Byron Bay itself, you can hike to Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point in mainland Australia. It is definitely worth the walk for the amazing view. Don’t forget to try ‘Stand Up Paddling,  it’s one of the fastest growing sports, and there is no better place to try stand up paddling then in Byron!

Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is THE holiday destination for a lot of Aussies and tourists as well, due to the sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches and plenty of nightlife, family entertainment, shopping and hotels. Apart from this, the Gold Coast has a lot of different theme parks, such as Dream World, Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World. Another popular attraction is the Tamborine rainforest skywalk. The skywalk is a great way of exploring the rainforest – during your walk you will be able to observe the diverse flora and fauna the rainforest has to offer from a birds eye view.

Brisbane Kangaroo Point lookout Brisbane

Brisbane
Your final destination is Brisbane – a town that offers plenty of things to do. At the Cultural Precinct at South Bank, visit the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, take the family for a swim at the “City Beach” at South Bank, or cruise over the river on the frequent ferries. Plan a trip down the Brisbane River on the special ‘Bat Cruise” to observe the flying foxes that take off each sunset to go foraging for fruit across Brisbane. There is also Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary at Fig Tree Pocket, just a short trip downriver by ferry where besides koalas you will see plenty of other Australian wildlife. The city itself offers plenty of shopping and historic buildings such as the Brisbane City Hall at King George Square, and then in the city on the river’s edge is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. For more information, check out the Visit Brisbane website.

Australia in a Campervan – Winter Fun

Kosovo_Skiing

White sandy beaches, perfect waves for surfers, kangaroos and a lot of sun block; that’s the image of Australia. But did you know Australia also has snowfields?

An Australian winter holiday is a well kept secret. Many Australians have never even seen the snow, yet it does exist. You just have to know the right places. Lucky you, because this article will reveal all.

The best times to travel to the snow are June, July and August, because that’s the low season. But the season can last until October in some places.

Hiring a motorhome for your snow holiday is a great experience, something totally different and definitely recommended to all the snow lovers out there. You will be free as a bird because you can take your motorhome or campervan anywhere you like, which means you will be able to experience a broader area than if you just stayed at a resort. Make sure you stay on the sealed roads and always be careful while driving, because snow can be dangerous.

Three out of six States of Australia provide ski slopes. All of them are located in the southern states of Australia – New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. In New South Wales there is even an alpine region called “The Snowy Mountains”.

The alpine region of Australia stretches through New South Wales and Victoria. Be aware of the fact that the weather can change quickly in the mountains and temperatures vary greatly across the area. Did you know that the coldest temperature ever measured in Australia was -23 Celsius? Here is an overview of the most popular ski slopes:

Perisher_Blue_-_Kosciuszko

New South Wales:

  1. Charlotte Pass
  2. Mt Selwyn 
  3. Perisher 
  4. Thredbo

Victoria:

  1. Mount Hotham 
  2. Falls Creek 
  3. Mount Buller 
  4. Mt Baw Baw

Tasmania

  1. Ben Lomond 
  2. Mount Mawson 

Hitting the slopes is a perfect family getaway. Get the whole family in the motorhome and drive towards New South Wales, Victoria or Tasmania. Build a snowman together, the best way to start your holiday! Go skiing, snowboarding, start a snowball fight, race downhill on a sledge, tobogganing, snow tubing, dog sled tour or take part in other amusing snow activities.  If you have never seen the snow and  never skied before, join a class; there is a range of learn to ski classes. You don’t have to purchase your own gear for your snow holiday, because the ski slopes offer equipment hire.

When taking part in any of those activities it is not uncommon to see Australian wildlife. Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums and even wild horses (called brumbies) are seen in the Australian snow country.

Sun-block is part of the image of Australia, you should definitely not forget it when going on you snow holiday. Summer is not the only time you need sun-block. The sun will reflect off the snow and bounces 80% of its rays back at you. In addition wear your sunglasses, to protect your eyes too. Furthermore, drink enough water, it is cold and you will be active in the snow, so dehydration is a risk. Bring some good snow shoes and remember that they should be water-proof. It is important to keep your feet dry.

Hit the road  slopes Jack!

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Melbourne

Melbourne considers itself a melting pot of fashion, food, sport and culture. There’s no denying it, Melbourne is a city which caters to a wide range of tastes. It’s also a city full of attractions and activities at all times of the day or night, all year round.

Sport

Melbourne is a mecca for sport in Australia. The city of Melbourne hosts some of the largest sporting events in Australia.  The calendar year kicks off with The Australian Open, the only Grand Slam tennis event in Australia.

Or do you have the need for speed? Well, March sees  the city fringe taken over by Formula 1.

March also marks the start of the Australian Football League (AFL) season. With 10 teams in greater Melbourne, you will never be short of a game to watch. If you are in Melbourne on April 25, try and get a ticket to the Anzac Day Test between Collingwood and Essendon. It’s the largest match (excluding the September Grand Final) of the year.  Even if you know nothing about AFL, the venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground,  holds 100,018 spectators; this is a game to attend for its atmosphere, if for nothing else. Join the locals and grab a meat pie, a scarf from your home team, and get loud

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is also home to the National Sport Museum. It holds a number of cricketing, AFL, horse racing and Olympic memorabilia.

There’s also the National Rugby League (NRL) team, the Melbourne Storm, and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) team, the Melbourne Rebels during the autumn/ winter months (March to August).

Late September marks the start of the Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing); 114 race meetings exceeding $40 million in prize money including the world famous Melbourne Cup, which is Australia’s premier horse race that is known because it “stops a nation”.  Workplaces and homes and clubs everywhere around the nation stop to watch this one race.

Soccer/football starts in October with both the Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory attempting to win the championship.

Then there is the cricket. In December the Boxing day test match held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an Australian icon with capacity crowds attending each year. On December 26, The Australian Test Cricket Team play an opposing national team who is touring that summer. Every 4 years this match forms a part of the all-important Ashes series (Australia vs. England).

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Culture

Art is not just confined to art galleries, and you will find it all over Melbourne. In the streets, the parks, the laneways – you can’t escape it even if you wanted to. The laneways of Melbourne are filled with outdoor artistic expressions using stencils, paste-ups and murals. Some locations for these are Hosier and Rutledge Lane (near Federation square), Union Lane off Bourke Street Mall and Flinders Lane and Cocker Alley (Bansky art – Little Diver). Keep a look out because there is always something new.

There are also a number of traditional galleries you can visit. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV Australia) features Indigenous works, ancient, modern and fine art.  The Melbourne Museum also offers aboriginal art and explores nature, culture and history in Victoria.  It features a gallery just for children (aged 3-8) along with other education programs tailored from kindergarten to grade 12. If you prefer something more modern, visit the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art at Southbank. It’s a spectacular building filled with spectacular work.

Melbourne Graffiti

Melbourne hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The more popular ones include the Melbourne Writers’ Festival which runs from late August. It’s a celebration for writers, thinkers and readers and offers entertaining debates, film screenings, book launches and workshops from international and local guests. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs late March to mid April and hosts some of the hottest international and Australian comedic talent.

Melbourne is also home to the Australian Ballet which showcases both classical and contemporary pieces. Its unique style of dance is influenced by the ballet staff, guest dancers teachers and choreographers from around the world.

Adventure & fun

After you have had your fill of food, sport and culture, it’s time to get active. The Eureka Skydeck  offers an unforgettable panorama of the city both day and night from 88 floors (300metres) above the ground. Try ‘the edge’ a glass cube which slide out from the side of the building so you can view the city…between your feet.  Love the height? Visit Hard Rock Climbing. They are 37 climbing walls with a pinnacle of 17metres located right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. If you prefer to be closer to the ground, you can visit Glow in the dark minigolf; It’s 18 holes of glow in the dark fun. The Kingswood Ute hole is a favourite! If you want to see some Australian Fauna up close, then find your way to the Melbourne Zoo. They have Kangaroos, wombats and platypus along with Tigers, Orang-utans, Zebra, Elephants, etc. For more Australian wildlife, Koalas, Echidnas, Emu, Echidna’s etc, you will need to visit the Healesville Sanctuary.  St Kilda, Luna park and beach.

Melbourne  Central Tower

Shopping

You are bound to find just about anything in Melbourne. From contemporary to classic. The Bourke Street Mall and its surrounding streets offer a large selection of shops.  The Melbourne GPO  building houses boutiques from Australian and International designers within a gorgeous neo-renaissance style building. Melbourne Central is the largest shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD; shopaholics will love the choices available from 300 stores. Harbour Town at Docklands specialises in outlet shopping and specialty stores in docklands. Bridge Road at Richmond is lined with outline stores of your favourite stores with a number of quirky shops thrown in for good measure. One of the renowned fashion precincts is Chapel Street – arty, vintage, contemporary, classic, stylish; you will find everything  fashionable you need on this street and it surrounds (Commercial road & Greville street). You can catch a free ‘Fashion’ bus from Federation Square to Chadstone, a shopping centre with 530 stores! Chadstone is known as the Fashion Capital but also contains cinemas, ten pin bowling and food.

Melbourne_yarra_twilight

Food

Speaking of food, Melbourne is a rich tapestry of cultural delights.  There are a number of pockets around the CBD that specialise in ethnic food. The truth is, you don’t need a list of places to eat as you will find something that catches your eye as you wander the streets. Feel like Italian? Head to Lygon street. Want some Greek?  Go to the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Street. Craving asian? Stroll on over to Chinatown.  But here are some anyway. Chin Chin is one of the few places where  walk-ins are preferred , they are open every day of the year except Christmas day and serve south east asian cuisine. Vue De Monde  offers classical fine dining from the 55th level of the Railto Building. it’s food is impeccible as is it’s view.  Little Cupcakes as the name suggests sells little cupcakes, but also normal sized along with something to wash them down with. That is all. Super cute and super tasty, get in early or you’ll be left with the leftovers. If you want something cosy and informal, try Cafe Vue. It’s a french inspired bistro with beautiful deco and delicious meals. Love meat? Visit Rockpool. Overlooking the Yarra River, the view and the food are impeccable.

 

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Festivals in Australia

Music gathers people, and that is one of the main reasons we love festivals. Festivals are a great place to meet up with like-minded individuals from around the country and the world. There are many festivals of all kinds, sizes and music and lifestyle directions in Australia year-round, so there will always be something to suit you.

This isn’t your normal “Top Ten” list with the best festivals held in Australia, simply because there are too many festivals in too many places. So we have ordered them into categories.

Big Day Out Sydney

Modern Sounds
If you are looking for a lot of young people, beer, sun and current popular artists, it won’t be hard to find a festival that suits you.

Some festivals in Australia are held in different places at the same time, such as the Big Day Out and Stereosonic, which are good examples of this kind of national festival.

Big Day Out is held in January simultaneously in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The line-up features some of Australia’s best live rock bands as well as top international artists. The headline acts for 2014 are Snoop Dogg and Major Lazer.

Stereosonic focuses on House and Techno sounds and is held in December in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Here you’ll find some of the biggest DJ’s from all around the world, especially from Great Britain and The Netherlands, like Armin van Buren and Calvin Harris. Talking about Dutch music, one of the biggest festivals in The Netherlands has also come to Australia since 2009. Defqon 1, founded by the Dutch powerhouse Q-Dance is one of the biggest festivals of its kind featuring House and Hardstyle music and it grows in size every year.

Some other festivals of popular current music that are worth considering are:

  • Field Day – Sydney Festival (January)
  • Homebake (December)
  • Bass in the Grass, Darwin (May)
  • Soundwave in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (February).

Jazz, Blues and Classical
If those hard bass sounds aren’t really your thing, try one of the Jazz and/or Blues festivals. Combine some of the best nature in Australia with delightful music and enjoy a day out with a music adventure. Probably the best known of its kind is the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in June. With more than 300 Australian and international musicians and a rich program with club gigs, film screenings, master classes and evening sound walks, this is a festival for families, youth and even seniors.

The Byron Bay Bluefest is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. That means 2014’s Eastern Weekend will be very special this year at Tyagarah Tee Tree Farm with over 200 performances on 7 stages. The Bluefest welcomes international artists like Jack  Johnson, John Mayer, Passenger and Dave Matthews Band.

For Opera you should definitely visit ‘Opera in the Paddock’ and ‘Opera in the Vineyards’. These festivals are organised respectively in March and October and bring the best of opera to stunning outdoor locations so you can bask in world class music while enjoying some great scenery.

Womad Adelaide

Folk and Country
Experience country music like it should be. With a number of festivals organised year round in Australia we’re quite sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.

The Gympie Muster is held over 4 action-packed days and nights in Queensland’s most beautiful and normally peaceful National State Parks: Amamoor Creek State. Here you’ll find the true spirit of Country in Australia during the end of August each year.

This year the Tamworth Country Music Festival will be opened by two of Australian superstars in Country Music, namely Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley, that and lots of other performances makes the 42nd Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth in January 2014 one that absolutely cannot be missed.

A great festival for the whole family is National Folk Festival in Canberra, hundreds of the world’s best musicians are showing their best music tracks during this five-day festival in March and April.

WOMAD
WOMADelaide is the Worldof Music, Arts and Dance, founded by musician Peter Gabriel in 1982. Over the last two decades it has grown into one of the biggest outdoor festivals in Australia and is held over four days in Adelaide. Participants can experience world class music performances as well as workshops, cooking programs and dancers.

A popular way to enjoy festivals is in a motorhome. Most festivals offer powered sites and a camper with your own bed, kitchen facilities and even shower and toilet are a very comfortable way to enjoy a stay at a festival campground. But do make sure you book early, because we get a lot of people booking well in advance to secure their campervan for a festival.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try the Australia Tourism website.