Travel writer Margaret Barca speaks of her favourite meal being a magical, fresh fish fantasy.
The stars seem to shine a little brighter in Lakefield, a sprawling national park on Cape York, the best part of 2000 kilometres north of Brisbane. We were travelling with the legendary Bush Tucker Man, Les Hiddens, a botanist, an ex-army major and former head of the Survival Unit for the Australian Army for northern Australia, his wife (a psychologist recently returned from interviewing US military personnel in Washington) and a couple of friends along for the ride.
We camped far enough from the river to avoid crocs – at least that’s what they told me. After a long day’s drive we arrived at dusk to find the major had already set up a table that looked like something from an African safari.
We could smell the damper cooking in the camp oven. The major then grilled freshwater yabbies (big, like prawns) and just-caught barra and roasted potatoes in the coals. From somewhere, he produced a platter of tropical fruit. The mozzies were biting and fruit bats flapped in the shadows cast from candles spluttering late into the night. If I remember correctly we had quite a few wines. Amazing company, great location and a memorable bit of bush tucker.
Make your own memory
You need a 4WD for Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park and a permit for camping and you need to book well ahead. Late May to August is the best time to visit. It’s closed November to April during the wet season. No swimming is allowed because saltwater crocodiles are in rivers and along the coast. Fishing is permitted (barramundi’s the favourite catch).
Unfortunately Les Hiddens doesn’t join the tours anymore; however he is a consultant for Outback Spirit Tours.