Barbecuing – An Australian National Pastime

Barbecue Areas Are Everywhere.

Barbecuing areas are everywhere, all are free and most have gas, also free. There are barbecue areas in the mountains, in parks and on the beaches.

A Free Barbecue Area at Redcliffe

A Free Barbecue Area at Redcliffe

When we had breakfast on the beach at Redcliffe, the free barbecue area was like a home from home. The kitchen at the back, dining room, complete with table and chairs, at the front, overlooking the sea. Nice.

Breakfast, Beer and a Beach

Breakfast, Beer and a Beach

And barbecuing at home is almost the Australians replacement for the pub. Barbecuing in Australia, pretty much as it is in England, is the bloke’s job. But out here you had better get good at it fast.

In the UK, I suspect I used to have around two barbecues a year. And by the time I had fired it up and allowed myself to get distracted once or twice, some other bloke would always step in to grab the tongs in my absence. That bloke was normally a guy called Steve, he liked barbecuing. So by and large I’d let him get on with it.

That’s not going to happen here. It’s a bloke thing and a bloke does his own barbecue or he is a pathetic pom. If you allow someone else to take over you’re barbecue that’s like letting a stray dog wee up your gatepost. You just don’t let it happen. Command your own barbie!

As barbecues here are more of a two times a month thing rather than two times a year, I have had to get my eye in. Here’s some tips I’ve found useful.

  • Ban chicken from the barbecue – eliminate the need to worry about ruining everyone’s weekend and feeling bad about doubling up all your guests with  food poisoning.
  • Offer just three meats – sausages (snags – Aussie lingo), steak and burgers – you just can’t go wrong with these.
  • Ask everyone how they would like their steak and concentrate on achieving just that. Blackened sausages or slightly crispy burgers are no big deal, but mess up someone’s steak, and you’ve messed up their meal.

Barbecuing Steak.

Here’s how I do it:

  • Put the steak on the hot plate and pat it with that thing that looks like a small flattened shovel.
  • When you see blood start to bubble on surface of the rare side of the steak, the bit you’re not yet cooking, flip it over and cook for the same amount of time on that side.
  • Your steak is now sealed. You just need to vary the cooking times depending on how it is wanted.
  • Rare: Probably about a minute each side.
  • Medium: About 3 minutes each side.
  • Well Done: As long as you like really. Just ask them every now and again “is that good for you or shall I keep going?”
  • Medium rare? I don’t think so. Of course, the trick is timing, you need to put the “well dones” on a long, long time before the others.

Babecuing Mistakes to Avoid.

  • My wife always used to insist that I cook all the meats and place them on to serving dishes to put on the table. Then, everyone would select their meat after piling their plates up with all the other stuff. I’ve banned that too. It is guaranteed all the meat will be cold by the time everyone has served themselves and sat down. Instead, ask your guests to collect their meat from the barbecue when they’re ready to eat it.
  • Don’t bring your two foot wide charcoal burning tin can with you, don’t even mention it nostalgically. Get a barbie that looks like a cooker…..

A Proper Barbie

A Proper Barbie

Look, I’m a chef! Who’d have though that?

When I first got here, having a barbecue would get me into a mild panic. Me? Cook for eight people plus all those kids? Now, I just crack open a stubby and cook the meats.

Meanwhile, the wife deals with preparing the salad, cooking the potatoes, getting the plates out, the rolls and the bread, clears and prepares the table, prepares and lays out the bowls of pre-meal snacks, gets the serviettes and makes a selection of deserts and puts together the cheese board.

And yet, most amusingly, after my guests have eaten, they invariably say “Thanks Bob, that was really good!”

Life in Australia and barbecues, I love it.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Neil Beckett April 18, 2021, 1:37 pm |

    It still amuses me to this date the unwritten rules about BBQing.
    The men have to stand around the BBQ and the women are in the kitchen. Never should the two mix! 🙂
    I love the fact that BBQs are everywhere and generally free to use. We’ve recently moved from Victoria to Hervey Bay, and there are plenty of BBQs positioned right next to the beach.

    • BobinOz April 19, 2021, 7:56 pm |

      I am not very good at cooking, so I’m really not keen on the apparent rule that it’s the men who do the cooking on the barbecue. But what I’ve also found is, and it’s pretty much guaranteed, that when I’m having a barbecue round my house and I’m pushing bits of meat around on the grill, another man guest will come up to give me a hand and then slowly take over everything.

      That’s when I slink away and take a seat, or sometimes pop into the kitchen to see how the women are 🙂

      But you are right, it’s great that there are barbecues in public places everywhere, and there’s always plenty of them along the beaches. It’s part of the Australian way of life.

  • Juanita May 13, 2015, 9:15 pm |

    BBQ (called a ‘braai’ in South Africa) works exactly like that. The wife does ALL the work and hubby gets the thanks. 😀 Seems like we will fit in like a glove, just have to get used to gas, not coals.

    • BobinOz May 14, 2015, 6:34 pm |

      Yes, it’s great, is it? Gas just makes it easier as well 🙂

  • Ashlea Delmolino December 29, 2011, 8:28 am |

    I have to express my respect for your kindness for those people that actually need help on your subject. Your personal dedication to getting the solution throughout turned out to be pretty good and has surely enabled men and women just like me to get to their dreams. Your new warm and friendly help and advice implies much a person like me and especially to my office workers. Many thanks; from everyone of us.

    • BobinOz December 30, 2011, 11:50 pm |

      Thanks Ashlea, that is very much appreciated.

  • BobinOz March 25, 2011, 9:37 pm |

    Good question! Australia isn’t the best place for vegetarians to live, that’s for sure. Australia is a meat loving nation. You can buy vegetarian sausages and vegetarian patties. But you won’t get a vegetarian burger that looks like meat, or if you can, I haven’t seen one.

    Having said that, if you eat fish or prawns, they get barbecued quite often too. So you won’t be excluded, but I can’t guarantee you won’t be laughed at. I suppose that depends on the crowd you mix with. But if it helps, one of our best friends, Stacey, is a vegetarian and people laugh at her at their peril!

  • Chris March 24, 2011, 3:47 pm |

    If BBQing is the national pastime, how do the Aussies treat vegetarians?

    Would you be laughed at… heckled… met with blank stares? Or is it more common than I would have thought, and is it normal to have veggie burgers at BBQs?

    Just a thought from a vegetarian who loves the idea of Aussie BBQs and doesn’t mind seeing others eating meat… or even cooking it if it is absolutely unavoidable.

    • cassie November 6, 2012, 11:37 pm |

      You will get laughed at, no doubt about it, because we laugh at everything, and make jokes about everyone and everything, including ourselves, that’s just our sense of humour.
      So don’t worry, you’ll probably get a bit of teasing for eating the vege burgers, but it’s nothing serious, all meant in fun, and most people will respect your choice to not eat meat 🙂

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