In Australia where I live, no matter whether it’s Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring, it’s always a great time to share a barbecue meal with family or friends.

Like many Australians, my husband and I love barbecues.  We especially enjoy outdoor barbecues.  There is something special about food – especially the steaks – cooked on a barbecue plate over an open fire. It’s the “burnt” taste, the addition of flavours from the previous barbecue, the oil, even the grit: Each of these add to this unique culinary experience.

But an outdoor Aussie barbecue is not just about the food, as fine as it may be. We appreciate the novelty of making and maintaining the fire, the fresh air, the open space, the natural environment and the many native birds – even the nuisance ones!

We live in Brisbane. One of our favourite outdoor barbecue spots is the Grey Gum Picnic Area in the Mount Coot-tha Forest, a 20 minute drive west of Brisbane’s Central Business District (CBD). The Mount Coot-tha Forest is Brisbane’s largest natural environmental area, with more than 1600 hectares of open eucalypt forest, rainforest gullies and creeks.

Last year in July we chose the Grey Gum Picnic Area as the venue for our grandson’s birthday lunch. It was a beautiful sunny Winter’s day, maximum temperature around 22 degrees Celcius.  After enjoying the barbecue fare, we shared two birthday cakes. Read: The Ubiquitous Carrot Cake.

Brisbane's Mount Coot-tha Forest Grey Gum Picnic Area
Brisbane’s Mount Coot-tha Forest Grey Gum Picnic Area

 

The fire is an attraction

Soon after arriving at the site, we collect dry sticks and kindling to help make the fire. A highlight of the open-fire barbecue for children (of all ages!) is watching the fire being lit and the wood and kindling burning. It is not uncommon for the younger ones to take one of the longer sticks they collected, poke it into the flames and watch it burn (under strict adult supervision, of course!).

Preparing the fire, my granddaughter looking on
The fire is prepared

 

The birds are a distraction

The children can’t resist chasing the native brush turkeys, which appear as soon as a new picnic group like ours arrives. The bush turkeys (as we prefer to call them) make their home in the surrounding scrub. It’s funny, but they seem to appear out of nowhere, eager to scrounge whatever tasty morsels unsuspecting visitors leave unattended. They will even jump up onto the picnic table or chairs to sample the wares! And however many times you chase them away, they keep coming back.

  • Bush turkey at Grey Gum Picnic Area

    Bush turkey at Grey Gum Picnic Area

  • My granddaughter chasing the pesty bush turkey

    My granddaughter chasing the pesty bush turkey

Just like the bush turkeys, the local kookaburras are always on the lookout for visitors like us “bearing gifts”. The kookaburras – not just one or two, but many – congregate in the trees above, waiting for the right moment to pounce, to sample the bounty.

“Hey, watch out! Cover your food!” someone cries out as a kookaburra swoops down. Many a surprised diner loses his or her steak or sausage to a greedy kookaburra.

“Get out! Go away!” we shout in unison, protecting our food. Actually, we are not supposed to “feed” the native birds anyway.

  • Kookaburra waiting to pounce

    Kookaburra waiting to pounce

  • Many kookaburras in waiting

    Many kookaburras in waiting

  • Tony protecting his sausage

    Tony protecting his sausage

A perfect barbecue steak

Typically, it’s the men who do the cooking at an Aussie barbecue. Even my husband – who doesn’t like to cook at home – takes charge when it’s a barbecue.

For an Aussie, it is really important to be able to cook a good steak on the barbecue.

Here’s my advice: (1) use a fine cut of meat; (2) marinate the meat; (3) cook the meat on a very hot barbecue plate. Be careful not to overcook the meat, or it is likely to be dry and tough!

For our barbecues, we use rump steak and a marinade based on a recipe my mother gave me. Everyone who samples our barbecue steaks compliments us and wants to know how we prepare them. Over and over again, I am asked to share my mum’s recipe.

These are the reasons why I always use my mum’s marinade recipe to prepare our barbecue steaks:

  • The ingredients are simple and on hand.
  • It’s quick and easy to prepare.
  • It flavours the meat.
  • It tenderizes the meat.
  • It shortens the cooking time.
  • It’s always a hit!

If you appreciate a really good steak, I recommend you try this recipe when preparing for your next barbecue – I’m sure you will not be disappointed!

 

The men do the cooking
Cook the steaks on a hot barbecue plate

 

BARBECUE STEAK MARINADE

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic

These ingredients are sufficient for 500g steak, preferably rump steak, trimmed of fat, and cut into serving-size pieces.

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add the steaks.
  3. Cover and allow to stand for at least 4 hours.
  4. Store in the refrigerator (or esky) until ready to use.

Source: Evelyn Proposch

 

BARBECUE STEAK MARINADE: Slideshow

 

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