Closer to home

GETTING out and enjoying the great outdoors is something most of us in Australia have within easy reach.

My home is in the shadows of the Great Dividing Range and its locality opens up some of the greatest destinations in Australia.

I am blessed with a plethora of National Parks, recreation reserves, fishing havens, etc. All of these are within close reach of where I live and a lot of these areas are within similar travelling times of our state’s capital, Sydney.

The choice of accessing these areas is wide and varied, whether it be a train ride and then a hike into the wilderness, or your own 4WD, car, mountain bike, motorcycle, kayak, raft, canoe, horse or lilo.

For me the option of taking a canoe with a good friend, esky with frozen and chilled fresh food, drinks and other treats to sustain a few days on the river can be one of the most satisfying trips ever. Add a swag, fishing gear, cooking gear, a few clothes and you can be self-sufficient for an extended period of time off the grid.

Supplementing meals with fresh caught fish, yabbies , freshwater shrimp, wild fruit from the numerous fruit trees along many of our rivers, a legacy from the gold miners and settlers who once called these river banks home. Add juicy plump blackberries when in season and it makes the journey all the better.

Fresh frozen meats take precedence for our canoe trips, but also cured meats like salami make a good midday meal with the addition of cheese, nuts, pickles, etc. Dried meats like jerky and biltong are great to carry with a long shelf life, dried fruit and vegetables are also a good choice.

While a frozen loaf of bread in your esky will be good for toast for the duration of your trip, those flat bread wraps in the clip lock bags are brilliant. Filled with delicacies such as fresh chicken and salad they make a great lunch alternative.

A folding wire cooking rack is easily carried and will make grilling red meat, chicken, fresh caught fish, yabbies a breeze and it will impart a beautiful smoke flavour to your meal.

Bacon grilled over the coals is one of the sure-fire hits of these coal grilled culinary delights.

Add a billy for boiling water and vegetables or even a lump of pickled pork or corned beef and you’re nearly there. The addition of a hiking type nest of saucepans makes it easy to prepare a side course of vegetables.

Ice for your good quality esky should be frozen bottles of good drinking water as these have the two purposes of keeping the contents of the esky cold while slowly defrosting over the ensuing days and supplying cold refreshing drinking water.

A towel covering your esky and kept wet at regular intervals will extend the life of the ice within your esky thanks to the natural evaporative cooling effect.

Now you have organised food, clothing, sleeping arrangements, camera and fishing gear and your personal requirements it’s time to pick a river system or lake to spend a few days exploring.

Arrange a drop off and pick-up point with family or friends and you are set.

If you are going to be fishing while travelling along to the beat of nature don’t expect to travel too far in one day. That’s a mistake many people make. Sure, you can walk at around 3kms an hour, so paddling down a flowing river for 8hrs should make it possible to cover 24 kms a day, right? In reality you should be allowing to travel between 5 to 10km a day. Once you start fishing, catching fish, working over a hole thoroughly, taking pictures of captures, exploring your surrounds, picking blackberries or climbing orange trees and picking fruit, the hours simply race away.

The next group of anglers and canoeists that paddle late in to the night to rendezvous with their pick up won’t be the last.

Remember to take all your rubbish home with you so we can keep enjoying the freedom to access such wonderful places here in Australia.

Your next trip of a life time may be just a short distance from where you live!

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