An Introduction to Gourmet Bushwalking

by Alan Close, Les Robinson, Ian Close and Sean Kidney

From the early 80s Ian, Alan, Les and I were regular bushwalkers around NSW and Australia. But we found, to our surprise, that our approach to bushwalking was not the norm.

When we went into the bush we not only wanted a great walk, but we also planned to have great gourmet experiences. For us a bushwalk was a chance to eat well, together - we went into the bush to enjoy ourselves, so we thought we might as well enjoy our food as well.

Our city lives were busy, rushed and without enough time to savour life - or food.

Our bush 'lives' were the reverse: a chance to savour friendship, the bush (of course) and last, but definitely not least, food.

Over the years we explored cheeses (brie and jam in the Snowys to goat's milk cheese in the Nattai); established staples (pasta arrabiatta) and dabbled in exotica (unusual - but very tasty - thai/japanese mixes by our friend Les).

And we kept coming across people who found this amazing.

We came across many of them in the bush. A campfire with tins of baked beans scattered around (sacrilige, both in terms of leaving rubbish behind and in poor culinary behaviour); a bunch of walkers all making their separate (sad and lonely) mini-meals in little camp pannikins; endless stories of freeze-dried meals.

'Ridiculous' we thought. You can travel just as lightly but still eat well, with only a little planning. And then, well, what's a nice bottle of wine (carefully decanted into a lightweight container of course) on top of a normal pack.

So we decided to write a modest book about it all. Part of the motivation was to document our methods so that friends and others could use them instead of our having to hand-write out lists and the like for others to use. The other part was to share our fun and encourage others to eat better when bushwalking.

The book is still a work in progress. Kids have arrived, life has got even busier, and bushwalks are not quite as frequent. But here's what's been completed. The item we still use most is the Planning List. It's a reminder checklist. Simply run your eye down it to make sure you haven't missed something you wanted to take (like the butter!). Sean Kidney, September 1997