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14 April 2005
Camp Ovens
Find out about how people cook when they're camping.

CRAIG BERKMAN: What is it about the taste of freshly cooked food being eaten in the open air? For one thing the aromas are tantalising, and it's no surprise that lifting the heavy cast iron lid from this camp oven full of steaming curried lamb shanks elicits gasps of approval from the assembled gallery.

MARION DARGUSCH, CAMP OVEN COOKING JUDGE: You have meat cooked in a camp oven and you have it in just an ordinary conventional oven, there's a big difference in taste.

VALENTINE HARRIS, FESTIVAL CHAIR: 1999 we had our first festival with three cooking teams and that was a real ball. We were going quite blind, we didn't know what we were doing but we had a lot of fun.

CRAIG BERKMAN: The Australian Camp Oven Festival, the largest of its kind in the country, provides a biennial platform for competitive outdoor cooking, and teams have descended on the Millmerran showgrounds on Queensland's Darling Downs from all over Queensland and New South Wales, not only to compete, but to display their skills and techniques to the general public who are here in their thousands.

MARION DARGUSCH: A lot of people who tour around caravanning, most of them if they're the bushie type of person who goes off the bitumen track will have a camp oven in their belongings and will enjoy using it on a river bank on a bush track.

CRAIG BERKMAN: Back in camp oven alley, the evening meal is starting to take shape.

GRAHAM BERRY, CAMP OVEN COOKING JUDGE: I believe there's any type of dish can be cooked successfully in a camp oven. It just takes a bit of experience; do the right thing. And they're amazing things, they are ovens, same as what an oven is in a stove. You've just got to keep your heat right. It's surprising what can be done and the taste can be phenomenal.

JAN WALLER, 2002 TITLE HOLDERS: Yeah we work as a team I do the mixing Bruce does the cooking and we do lots at home too.

CRAIG BERKMAN: 2002 titleholders, Jan and Bruce Waller from the Goondiwindi district have returned to defend their crown with Ross and Jamie Middleton also from Goondiwindi.

Today each team has to prepare a drover's evening meal including entree, main course and dessert, and points are awarded for authentic table presentation.

The overall weekend winner was the South Burnett team from Boondooma Homestead. The two couples combined to top the points tally including the Christmas lunch prepared on Sunday.

As for this Saturday night Drover's Dinner though, the combination of the Wallers and the Middletons won that section with their stew entree, their roast beef, and their rice pudding. Not only did they win, but they sat down to enjoy the fruits of their labour after the judges departed. This festival is Jan and Bruce's last they're retiring from competition, but in two year's when the festival runs again, there'll no doubt be another strong field of camp oven warriors vying for the trophies and cash, not to mention the sheer enjoyment of smoky, hot dusty al fresco camp oven cooking.

story notes

Eaten is the past participle of the irregular verb eat.
more information: eat

 camp oven
A camp oven is just a round pot, used for baking food. You can use camp ovens of top of a fire, but usually you dig a big hole, put some coals from a fire in it, then put the oven on the top.

 ordinary conventional oven
The sort of oven you see in kitchens, like the one in the picture.

 was a real ball
it was lots of fun

 going quite blind
She doesn't mean that they couldn't see, she means that they were doing something they'd never done before, so they didn't know what to expect.

 biennial platform
Biennial means happening every 2 years. And here a platform is an opportunity to show off something.
So the festival is an opportunity that comes every two years for competitive outdoor cooking

A drover is someone who moves cattle around from place to place.

A course is a part of a meal served separately. An entrée is the first course.

 main course
The main course is usually the second course. It's the biggest serving of food.

After the main course comes dessert. That's the sweet serving of food, such as icecream.

Here won is the past tense of the irregular verb win.
more information: win

 did they win
Notice that here the past tense is formed by didand that because of this win is used in its basic form.
more information: past tense

Here sat is the past tense of the irregular verb sit.
more information: sit

 the fruits of their labour
the good results of their hard work
Example: They're going to retire and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

 Jan and Bruce's
Notice that we use the possessive case on only the last name when using 'and'. It's Jan and Bruce's and not Jan's and Bruce's.
more information: possessive apostrophe