Sunday 14 August 2016

Cheese & Bacon Cob Loaf

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Makes for: 8-10 people

  • Ingredients needed: 
  • 250g bacon 
  • 1 large onion 
  • 250g cream cheese 
  • 350g cream 
  • 300g ricotta cheese 
  • 100g tasty cheese 
  • 1 white cob loaf 

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (or camp oven to medium - hot) 
  2. Slice off the top of your cob loaf to make a lid. (Don't cut too far down from the top the loaf or you won't be able to fit as much dip inside) 
  3. Pull the soft bread from inside of the loaf. (Be careful not to go all the way to the bottom of the loaf. You can easily make a hole if the bottom isn't really crisp) 
  4. Pop the bread pieces in a zip lock bag until you’re ready to use them so they stay fresh. 
  5. Dice your onion and bacon and fry until lightly browned. 
  6. Add the bacon and onion to a bowl 
  7. Add other ingredients and mix well 
  8. Fill your cob load with the cheese mixture. 
  9. Place the lid of the cob back on top 
  10. Wrap in alfoil 
  11. Bake for 45 minutes 
  12. Remove the alfoil and back into oven for an additional 10 mins

Carrot, Zucchini and Ricotta Loaf

'A nice easy loaf to make in the camp oven’

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 8

  • 350g fresh ricotta
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups SR flour
  • 2/3 cup plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Butter, to serve


Step 1 - Preheat camp oven to moderately slow heat (approx. 160C in conventional oven). Lightly grease a 14 x 21cm loaf pan. Line base and sides with baking paper.

Step 2 - In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, sugar, butter and eggs. Stir in zucchini, carrot and dates.

Step 3 - Sift flours and spices together into a bowl. Lightly fold flour mixture into ricotta mixture. Spoon into prepared pan, levelling top. Sprinkle with pepitas.

Step 4 - Bake for 55–60 minutes or until loaf is cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve slices of loaf warm or cold, with butter.

Courtesy Wave

Do you give a COURTESY WAVE to other drivers when travelling?

When I learnt to drive, I was told the wave was a FRIENDLY thing people did in country areas but it also helps prevent DRIVER FATIGUE & LOSS OF CONCENTRATION. The act of waving helps bring the drivers (both the initiator and returner) a bit of a wake up reminder. Especially when driving long distances on quieter less visually stimulating rural roads. It is easy to wander off in your own thoughts and forget to focus on the road. It is easy to stop watching the sides of the road for wildlife and livestock. Your full attention really needs to be on the road and other road users.

Why not wave at a fellow traveller and help keep both yourself and others SAFE & STIMULATED. IT COSTS NOTHING AND TAKES NO EFFORT!

Sunday 12 June 2016

Andrew Drynan Park Campground, Running Creek, Qld

Andrew Drynan Park Campground is approximately 2 hours’ drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  It is 47 km from Beaudesert and 19 km south-east of Rathdowney.  Follow Running Creek Road till you come onto Lions Road.  There is a little gravel section but it is in pretty good condition.  The rest is all bitumen.  If you are coming from Kyogle, NSW along Lions Road, it is a breathtakingly beautiful drive (76 km).  One I recommend to everyone. There are a few large hills getting to this location and lots of narrow winding roads, both on the Queensland and NSW side.  Also note that Lions Road on the Kyogle side has weight restrictions on some of the bridges, so if you are a larger caravan or motorhome, you might need to take a different path.  Maybe do some homework before you begin the journey.

This scenic valley campground backs onto the sub-tropical rainforest of Mt Chinghee National Park.  There are no walking tracks or facilities at Mt Chinghee but you’re not far from the Border Ranges National Park if you enjoy a day trip.  You will find everything you need in the Border Ranges from fabulous bush walking and picnic facilities. 

 The campground runs parallel to a beautiful running creek, so if you need a bath (no showers at this campground) or simply want a swim; take a breath and go for it.  Remember not to use any soaps or detergents though. 

It is a very large, grassy, open and sloping campground.  Regardless of the slope, there are plenty of flat spots to pitch a tent but you might struggle to get a completely flat campsite, especially if it is busy.  It really is only suitable for tents, camper trailers and small caravans.  Larger motorhomes or vans will need some form of levellers or the blood might rush to your head.  There is not really a flat area for the kids to play cricket or any such but they will have a blast on their mountain bikes and swimming in that lovely creek.  Please supervise them as there are some deep pools in the creek.

There are some shaded picnic tables and flush septic toilet.  There is no drinking water but there is a water tap near the toilets which comes straight from the creek.  You need to boil the water for at least 10 mins if planning on drinking it.  A dump point and potable water can be accessed at Boonah Showgrounds if you are planning a longer stay and need to replenish (65 km) but a great opportunity to explore this area, pop into Maroon Dam or visit Mt Barney.  There are no rubbish bins so you will need to pack it in and take it out with you.  Pets are allowed but must stay on leash. There is Telstra reception but other providers might struggle.

This campground is ideal for those that want to enjoy some quiet time to sit, relax and enjoy the scenery which is spectacular by the way.  For the kids there is the swimming  and wrap up the day with a fabulous campfire dinner.  Doesn’t get any better!

When you arrive, just find a spot and the manager comes around in the afternoon to collect camp fees and I am told he sells firewood.  There is very little firewood to collect in the region, so if you don’t want to buy it, you will need to take it with you.  The thing that detracts from this campground the most is it being right on road and the train line is not far away either.  This is a small detraction though and the scenery well and truly makes up for it.

Public holidays are very busy at this campground.  I would highly recommend booking if planning an Easter visit and maybe visit in a quieter time if you don’t enjoy the noise of lots of families and children enjoying their outside time.

Price Range $8 adults, $4 children Under 5 yo free
Family package - $24 family (includes 2xAdults & 4 children)
Peak periods $10 adults, $5 child, $30 family

How to book:
Contact the park manager on 07 5544 1281

Sunday 5 June 2016

Camping with Eco-Friendly Products

I’d love to hear what eco- friendly products you use at camping to minimise your footprint?  Not just cleaning products, but the ones we put on our bodies and our children’s bodies.  One organic product developer says, ‘we should not put on our bodies anything we would not eat’.  YUCK, the thought.  I suspect when we wash it off in our waterways or dump our grey water, we are feeding it to nature and all her inhabitants.  Can’t be good, so what are some alternatives you’ve found?

Here are a few alternatives to traditional commercial products I’ve started to use…

Disinfectant - A tablespoon of Water Soluble Eucalyptus in a litre of water is a great option for sterilising benchtops and wash basins.  Eucalyptus will help deter bugs of all kinds, including mosquitoes and cockroaches.

Household Cleaners - Vinegar and water in a spray bottle is fabulous cleaning option and especially good on any form of glass products.

Dish liquids – I have tried a few different ones and I like the Earth Choice.  I found some others did not suds up.  Others didn’t smell great and another that felt slimy.
  • Carmel says "Unimat Dishwash and Green Action laundry liquid are both grey water safe and Australian made and did I mention cheap?" 
  • Mary says " Buy Earth products. The laundry liquid and washing up detergent range is available at Reject shop for $2 @"

Soap - Many doctors believe we should not use soap at all to bathe and instead, simply wash ourselves off with water and apply Sorbolene to clean and moisturise our skin.  A few drops of water soluble eucalyptus in a tub of water is a great alternative for the kids to wash their hands.  At least you don’t have to worry about the soap going soggy or dropping on the ground.

Shampoos & Conditioners - There are some fabulous organic and septic suitable shampoos and conditioners on the supermarket shelves.  Have you found one you really like?  The only one I have found is the Organic Care range but I did find that my hair felt itchy after a few weeks and I found myself leaving my conditioner only half washed out.  I did this so it didn’t knot as much.  I would like to find a better option.

Insect repellents – There are lots of natural products and combinations of aromatherapy oils to use for keeping away mosquitos and other bugs.  Most of them have a tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus or organic citronella bases.  Others suggest adding lovely scents like lemon myrtle, cedarwood and my personal favourite geranium which has immune boosting and healing properties.  If you prefer a commercial product, Bug Off Me or Bug Another are the two organic one’s I have heard most spoke about.

Sunscreen – Seems to not be a big range or highly recommended alternatives to traditional sunscreen.  I still stick to the Cancer Council sunscreens. The only two commercial brands I found which were recommended are ‘Wot Not and Soleo’.  Nothing beats a hat, sunglasses, a long sleeve shirt and not spending too much time in the sun though.  We still live in a generation that highly recommends sunscreen, even with the concerns about nanoparticles.  Keep an eye out for signage at some pristine gorges, as you will start to see more and more prohibiting swimming if you are wearing sunscreen and insect repellents.  Not sure what the answer to this is.  Let me know if you hear of one.

Moisturisers - Sorbolene is a wonderful all-purpose moisturiser and makeup remover.  We are often in the sun, wind and water when camping and this is a great way to protect our skin from the elements as well as clean us (see soap).  VegeSorb is an even better and more organic version and I can personally recommend it as a lovely gentle product.

Deodorants - The organics community have designed some wonderful aluminium free deodorants and others have gone further with minerals salts.  I like the Vanessa Megan range -

Perfumes – Who needs perfume if you have mixed your favourite combination of aromatherapy oils to chase away the bugs?  Maybe add a drop of sandalwood, vanilla or geranium and you will smell a treat.

When shopping, if you can find products that say ‘suitable for septic’ than you are more likely to have found a more eco-friendly option.  That does not necessarily mean it is a good product, chemical free or good for the environment.  It simply means it will have a better chance of breaking down in the environment.  Most commercial products need to go through an urban treatment plant to be safe to be released back into the environment.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Depression Cake - also known as a War Cake or a Chocolate Crazy Cake

This cake was created and cooked during the depression because it needed no eggs, milk or butter.  You think it would be hard to make a cake without these 3 basics but women of this generation were extremely clever and adept at making a lot out of nothing.  Baking powder must also have been scarce, as this particular version of the cake has none.  Alas, it did not rise.  It is a very moist and dense cake.  Similar to a mud cake.  If you want it to be lighter and rise, I would add baking powder or simply substitute plain flour for SR flour.

This cake is all mixed and cooked in the same bowl.  

  • 1 ½ cups of flour (all-purpose)
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup sugar (all purpose granulated pure cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

  • Mix all 5 dry ingredients in an 8” well greased baking dish.
  • Make 3 depressions.  2 small and 1 larger. Pour vinegar in 1 small depression.  Vanilla in the other small one.  Vegetable oil in the larger one.
  • Pour water over all ingredients.
  • Mix well until smooth.
  • Preheat oven (or camp oven) to medium heat (178 C) and bake on a middle oven rack or on a trivet if using camp oven.
  • Bake for up to 35 mins – 45 mins. 
  • Poke with a toothpick to see if cooked.  Toothpick should come out clean.
NB: Check regularly to ensure you don’t over bake it.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Easter 2016 at Bigriggen Campground, Rathdowney

Bigriggen is situated between Boonah and Rathdowney.  It’s approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Brisbane in pristine Scenic Rim country and by geez is it scenic.  Surrounded by national parks and mountains.  All of which are an easy afternoon drive.  Super close to Maroon Dam and a little further away is Moogerah Dam if you are into boating of any kind.

What a beautiful campground this is.  First impression is how very grassy, shady and oh my goodness, so many fabulous flat camp spots to choose from.  The campground is immaculate and appears very well run.  Although it felt like there were thousands of children and pushbikes it was notably peaceful.  It is a big park and because of this many people are moving around in vehicles all day long.  The children were all super road savvy, which was great to see.  The swimming hole was by far the most popular spot to be and needless to say, not as quiet as the rest of the campground.  Some parents had kindly rigged a slide for the kids and they were having a ball.  It was still just warm enough for swimming and everyone was taking advantage.

There are flushing toilets and heaps of additional porta loos.  Also coin showers (20 cents coins) but with 1,300 folks camping over Easter, the showers were very busy and the line-up put me right off.  If heading to Bigriggen over any holiday periods I would recommend taking your own if you can.  Not only are they busy, they can be a long walk, depending on where you have camped.

The grounds are home to a Dump Ezy dump point, heaps of rubbish bins, kitchen and/or hall and bunkhouse for rent if you ever want to do a group get-together.  The kiosk stocks basics like firewood, ice, gas and ice-creams.   It is not far to drive into Boonah if you have forgotten anything.  The hardware in Boonah is open on weekends and one of the best rural hardware’s I have ever come across and has a fabulous array of camping supplies.

New owners have decided to give DOGS a fair go and this will continue as long as no one wrecks the privilege.  Remember keep them on leash, pick up after them and no incessant barking and we can all continue to take our best mates camping with us.

Camping Fees
(There are No powered sites)
Adults (17 years +) $10.50 per adult per night.
Children (3 - 16 years) $7.00 per child per night.

My only complaints about my visit was the pricing for Easter.  It was $65 for a minimum 4 night stay per adult.  This was not on their website.  As a solo camper who could only stay the 2 nights, this made it $32.50 per night for me, which I believe is exceptionally expensive for bush camping.  The price did not appear to deter anyone else as they most certainly were not lacking campers.

I wish the new owners all the best.  It is a truly lovely campground and I enjoyed my visit very much.

NB: There is no Optus coverage at all and Telstra is also a sadly lacking, depending on your phone and where you are standing.

Sunday 31 January 2016

Bread N Butter Pudding


Serves: 12

  • 6 slices old bread (or let it dry out for an hour) with crusts cut off 
  • butter (enough to butter bread slices)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sultanas (optional)

Preparation: 30 min › Cook: 1 hour  › Ready in: 1 1/2 hours
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C


  • Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  • Butter, then cut the crust-less slices of bread into triangles or squares (you can use any leftover breads) and lay in dish for the best fit (you can be decorative but make sure the whole base is evenly covered).
  • In a large mixing bowl beat 5 eggs on a medium speed and add milk gradually.
  • Add vanilla essence and sugar and continue to mix for 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed.
  • Pour mixture over the bread.
  • Allow mixture to sit for about 10 mins so moisture soaks into bread.
  • Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
  • Place in oven/camp oven and cook for 40 - 60 minutes (check every now and again).

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice-cream.

Camp Oven Tips#

  • If cooking in a camp oven, place dish on a trivet so the bottom does not burn.  Place a little water in the bottom of the camp oven to create a steam effect.
  • To brown the top of pudding ensure you place coals on top of lid for at least 10 mins at end of cooking process.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Campgrounds in SE Queensland as at December 2015

Map of SE Queensland Regions

I have recently made contact with all of the
SE Queensland councils and requested a list of all campgrounds in their electorate.

So far Gympie Regional Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council and Sunshine Coast Regional Council have sent through lists.

I will update this post as the rest arrive. Surprisingly some of the councils don't have a list in a format they can issue so they have agreed to forward shortly. :-)

Gympie Region Campgrounds

Click here to download PDF - Gympie Region Campgrounds

Scenic Rim Region (Boonah & Kalbar) Campgrounds

Scenic Rim Region (Rathdowney & Tamborine) Campgrounds

Scenic Rim Region (Canungra, Christmas Ck, Beaudesert areas) Campgrounds

Sunshine Coast Regional Campgrounds

Click here to download PDF - Sunshine Coast Region Campgrounds

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Surge in Showground and Sports Ground Camping in Regional Towns

Available campsites are growing as showgrounds and sports grounds in regional towns get in on the surge of baby boomers retiring and hitting the Australian highways.  This reasonably new camping option ranges in cost from $15 p/night - $25 p/night for 2 person with some offering power and water.  They are a great option if you are travelling from A-B and need a spot to stop.  Either overnight or short respite of a few days.  Allowing you to recharge yours and the van’s batteries, dump grey and black water, restock water tanks and continue on your journey.  Much better option than having grey nomads setting up camp in our truck stops.  Perfect option for a short visit with family as camping on their front lawn is rarely acceptable to local council. And sleeping in your van on the street is a definite no no.

There are already 170,000 powered and unpowered sites available nightly in Australia. Average occupancy rate is 54% thus, 86,000 sites go unused nightly around the country.  Do we need anymore?

Many would say yes, especially for small towns which don’t already have caravan parks or bush campgrounds.  Research says that for every $100 spent in a caravan park, another $138 flows into the township in other expenditures like groceries, fuel, alcohol, vehicle maintenance and entertainment.   Most small town showgrounds and sports club committees struggle to maintain facilities, so extra revenue is definitely a godsend for these guys.  Generally speaking this writer thinks it is a fabulous option and would like to see more of this in small regional towns so that all travellers can take the opportunity to see our great country.

However, allowing more low cost camping where existing business is already catering to the market truly makes it hard for some to compete.  I most definitely would not be mortgaging my house to buy a caravan park lease if I thought council may allow the showground across the road to start competing with me.  Most local council are very aware of the dangers to existing business and are opting to only allow showgrounds and sports grounds in these situations to be used as overflows.  Thus, only used when existing campgrounds are full or there are large events in the region.  This seems to me to be a fair and responsible approach for those specific locations.

I know many would not agree with me as they would like to see more low cost camping available but it is also good to see a range of options prevail.  If the local caravan park goes out of business, those that would prefer to camp with a playground, convenience store, swimming pool, camp kitchen, slab sites and laundries will be forced to camp in showgrounds with very basic amenities.  In times gone by, caravan parks were the domain of the young family.  It was the only holiday option many could afford. It would be great to see that option be there for them in the future.

There needs to be some compromise so everyone wins and we continue to see a mix of low cost, bush, showground, national park, and caravan park camping.  All need to prosper and continue to be there for all of us to enjoy at different times. Depending on the type of travel we are undertaking, our budget and our personal needs on the day.  I would think a wise council would be taking all of these matters very seriously into consideration before deciding what is best for their location.

In Defence of Spiders.....

Did you know that spiders eat other insects that we usually find pretty scary, including mosquitoes carrying malaria (the world’s #1 fatal disease) and flies carrying cholera. The presence of spiders in your house is a sign that 2,000 fewer bugs per spider will be there every year.

In your garden, spiders eat those bugs that love to damage your plants! In fact, they're used in organic cotton farming for exactly this reason.

It’s actually rare for most spiders to bite humans, unless they feel threatened in some way. You are more likely to be bitten in bed by a bedbug. Fear of spiders causes more injury than the spider itself as many a panicked driver has crashed from seeing a huntsman drop down from behind the sun visor.

Spiders are terrified of you, and only want to run away from you. They can only see about one foot in front of them so they are exceptionally unlikely to chase you or jump on you on purpose.

Spiders are generally a sign of good luck in many cultures the world over!

Important Note - We do not recommend you handle any dangerous spider or any spider if you are not 100% sure of it's identity. Know your local dangerous spiders and do not interfere with these guys. There will likely only be a small handful in your State or Territory to ever be concerned about and if worst case happens call emergency medical aid. Anti venom is available and unless you are a small child or have an underlying health condition it is unlikely you will have any severe repercussions.

Monday 4 January 2016

Atkinson’s Dam Holiday Park, SE Qld – What a little gem!

I have just spent a few days camping at Atkinson’s Dam Holiday Park, which is approximately 1 hour’s drive north-west of Brisbane.  I didn’t want to fight the Christmas crazy in the prime locations, so looked to stay close to home.   I have had a fabulous time and I am feeling exceptionally relaxed and refreshed, which is my gauge for ‘it must be all good’.   The weather was amazing the first two days and then the rain started to set in.  It is not a problem, as I am set up for most of Mother Nature’s mood swings.  I had a bit of work I needed to do, so I set up office in my tent and it is the nicest office I think I have ever had.   I might even stay an extra day or two.  Home office was never this good!

There are two parks at Atkinson’s Dam but sadly, neither was terribly reputable in times gone by.  Fortunately, this one has new owners and they have waived a magic wand over this old and very tired caravan park and turned her into a surprising gem in a very short 18 months.   She has a rejuvenated café, convenience store, slash service station which produces some of the finest pizza I have had in a long time.  Pool and BBQ area have had a spruce up.  The playground looks very inviting but I showed restraint.  Camp kitchen is as tidy as any I have seen.  Bathroom facilities have all had a reno and are immaculately clean.  The cabins have had a respray and the grounds are looking mighty fine. My favourite thing which I thought was just a little non-typical was their fabulous community campfire in a shed.  Feels so very 1800's and is wonderful.  The new owners are exceptionally friendly and obliging and have brought to this caravan park a personality resembling their own.  They have added a jumping castle for the kids and installed their own pet goats to add a little extra bit of character.  I did not feel it lacking in any area at all.  $30 per powered site for 2 persons or $10 per person for unpowered in peak.  Pretty close to perfect.

Community Campfire

Atkinson's Dam Holiday Park is attached to the dam's Day Use Area.  Sadly, the dry has seen this 2 km long dam dry out a bit but you can still have a blast with a jet ski, canoe, kayak, paddle board or small catamaran.  Might be pushing it a bit at the moment to enjoy your wake boarding but if this rain keeps up, she will be good to go again tomorrow.  I have often frequented this dam when she is in her glory and she is magnificent.  The bird life on this dam is spectacular viewing.  The sunsets and sunrises can take your breath away.  As this dam is predominately an irrigation dam her levels drop dramatically in dry times and people forget she is here quite quickly.  So close to Brisbane.  Nowhere near as crazy busy as Somerset and you can put all forms of power boat on her, so nowhere near as much restriction as Wivenhoe.  No boat permit or fishing permits are required.

Definitely suggest you pop this spot on your must do list.  The day use area has toilets, picnic tables, shelter and free BBQ’s.  Whether you just want a quiet and quick escape from Brisbane for the day or you want to sleep over.  You cannot go past this lovely caravan park and destination.  Mention my name.. Maybe you will get a good seat J