Trundle Bush Tucker day began in 1987 out the back of the local pub (pictured below) and has since shifted to the showground. And a good thing too – as it now attracts thousands of visitors every year. It’s driven by a super hard-working volunteer committee, puts all funds raised back into local charities/projects and brings ‘locals’ together from a huge catchment area including Parkes and Forbes to Condobolin, Peak Hill, Tullamore and further afield.
It’s a brilliant event, and I’d highly highly recommend heading out to the next one (always the first weekend in September) – particularly for city families. Honestly a couple of nights camping at the Trundle showgrounds on Bush Tucker weekend will be one of the best, friendliest and most authentic bush experiences your kids will ever have. There’s a camp oven cook-off (with a considerable cash prize), sheep dog competitions, cooking demonstrations, live music, billy boiling competitions, damper throwing and egg and spoon race. Good clean family fun hey!
Contestants in the camp oven cook off come at least a day in advance to get their oven cranking; and they cook everything from pork, lamb and beef from their own farms, to crocodile, witchetty grubs and camel brought with them from further West (and/or North!).
Local families bring their own camp ovens, to cater for their groups, and whether competing in the cook off or not – standards are seriously high. Take Helen’s pulled pork, above. Helen and Graham Quade live and farm just out of Trundle and brought with them this year, an enormous camp oven from which Helen fed a great many people with potatoes in their jackets (cooked on the fire of course), pulled pork and a tangy coleslaw. It was so delicious. Ps Helen uses Sarah Wilson’s recipe which can be found on her blog.
The kids’ section of Bush Tucker Day’s camp oven competition is just as hotly contested as the grown-ups. This lot, above and below, made their interpretation of a Maggie Beer chocolate vincotto pavlova, cooked of course, in a camp oven, then served crushed into cups, with cream and berries and called ‘Mud Meringue’. Led by clever Jessica (pictured right at the top of this post with said entry), team Mud Meringue won their class. I was lucky enough to try my own serving and it was absolutely delicious.
“I find cooking in the camp oven a very relaxing way to cook a meal . My theory is you put your meal on to cook and then pull up a chair or a log and sit and relax, chat with the family or friends there with you and smell the beautiful aromas coming from the campie. Our family cooks in camp ovens a lot. Its a great way to cater for a crowd and an opportunity to really appreciate our beautiful Australian bush. I usually cook leg of lamb (we are prime lamb producers), putting in plenty of rosemary and garlic, and lots of vegies in another campie. Dampers are another favourite eg sundried tomato and olives and shallotts or a mixed dried fruit version or the plain one served with proper butter and cockies joy (golden syrup).
Getting the temperature right is a big thing and that is done by holding your hand 15cm above the oven to judge. I like red wood coals, iron bark around here, and you mustn’t keep lifting the lid to check. When cooking meat, I listen for the sizzle and if blue smoke comes out then its too hot.
Lucy, my daughter-in-law, makes beautiful desserts in the campie and Jessica my grand-daughter (pictured right at the top of this post) is following in her footsteps with her mud meringues that won this year’s kids’ section! My son Mark, is the camp oven king! He cooks fish and every type of meat either baked or in a stew… beautiful. All our family have camp oven areas in their gardens or we just go up the paddock somewhere. All you need is wood close by and the views everywhere this year are lovely. We are having a good season – isn’t the countryside a picture!