On: Damper

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Guhday mates from Dahni,  Your Aussie Koala Swagman

Guhday mates from Donnie, Your Aussie Koala Swagman

 

Today, I had intended to share our experience with The Camden Show on Saturday April 5th, 2014, here in Camden NSW Australia. But there are so many pictures I would like to share, I’m still working on it. But, but again, today’s post has pictures from this amazing show. I separated the pictures out for this post because, even though they were taken at the Camden Show, this post should be considered as a whole other subject. The subject is, Damper. Before I explain what damper is, please allow me to set the stage.

In previous posts we looked at such things as the Kookaburra Song which mentions the Swagman. The swagman is a bit of a character in Australian folklore and a very real person or persons, that out of necessity lived very meagerly. Their common mode of transportation was their two feet. Their traveling companion was Matilda, the pack on their back. They traveled around in this manner because, many were poor and moved from place to place seeking better opportunity. If any were well-off-enough to have four-wheeled transportation, it was most likely well-worn and kept together with whatever they could find for parts and that their wit could muster. Their home and kitchen was a campfire. They took shade and some protection from a Coolabah tree, a kind of eucalyptus. Their Billy boil (a metal pot carried on their back for water and to make tea over fire) was essential. Food was often scarce and they needed something easily affordable, simple, easy to make and something filling,  to rid themselves of hunger. This common food was called Damper.

Let’s enter the campsite look of a Swagman. And kudos to those that presented this visual and informative and DELICIOUS display at the Camden Show!!! 🙂

Some Swagmen might have had some old wheels like this

Some Swagmen might have had some old wheels like this

Bill the Swagman

Bill the Swagman

Bill the swagman.

 

They would look for a nice place to set up camp. Their campfire area would look something like this.

Swagman Kitchen

Swagman Kitchen

Must have water or bring it

Must have water or bring it to make your billy boil and damper

So what is damper? It’s delicious, that’s what it is! 🙂

Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travellers. It consists of a wheat flour based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. Damper is an iconic Australian dish. It is also made in camping situations in New Zealand, and has been for many decades.

Preparing damper

Preparing damper

Damper was originally developed by stockmen who traveled in remote areas for weeks or months at a time, with only basic rations of flour, sugar and tea, supplemented by whatever meat was available. The basic ingredients of damper were flour, water, and sometimes milk. Baking soda could be used for leavening. The damper was normally cooked in the ashes of the camp fire. The ashes were flattened and the damper was placed in there for ten minutes to cook.

mixture over of pot in hot coals

mixture  in pot over hot coals

Following this, the damper was covered with ashes and cooked for another 20 to 30 minutes until the damper sounded hollow when tapped.

Damper is covered with a lid of hot coals

Damper is covered with a lid of hot coals

Alternatively, the damper was cooked in a greased camp oven. Damper was eaten with dried or cooked meat or golden syrup, also known as “cocky’s joy”. Cocky’s joy – were small farmers who settled or perched (like a bird) on the portions of his land that was resumed for agriculture. Some believe they were first called this from the area of Cockatoo Island, hence the word “perched.” So the joy of the Cocky’s was to be able to have land to settle and something to sweeten their damper, which was by tradition, golden syrup.

Damper done down under and ready to come up and eaten

Damper done down under and ready to come up and eaten

Golden syrup is a pale treacle (un-crystallized syrup made from refining sugar). It is a thick, amber-colored form of inverted sugar syrup, made in the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar, or by treatment of a sugar solution with acid. It is used in a variety of baking recipes and desserts. It has an appearance similar to honey, and is often used as a substitute by people who do not eat honey. I like to use this instead of Karo syrup (high fructose) when making my pecan pie. I think it is better for us than high fructose corn syrup and I like the added character it brings. It is more expensive than Karo syrup, but worth every extra cent!

Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup

Molasses, or dark treacle, has a richer color than golden syrup, and a stronger, slightly bitter flavor.

Slather some butter and golden syrup and dig in! :)

Slather on some butter and pour on some golden syrup and dig in! 🙂 Thank you Swagman Bill!

I have been promised an authentic Australian Damper recipe. Can’t wait to get it and make it for YOU, when we get home! 🙂

Take it away Dingo Dennis!

Dingo

Dennis Dingo Dryden

  Waltzing Matilda
Australian unofficial National Anthem
Lyrics by
A.B. Paterson

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

………………..

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

…………………

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thorough-bred
Down came the troopers One Two Three
Whose that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Waltzing Matilda Waltzing Matilda
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me
Whose that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker-bag
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

………………….

Up jumped the swagman sprang in to the billabong
You’ll never catch me alive said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

Waltzing Matilda Waltzing Matilda
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

For more about Waltzing Matilda here, see also: http://wp.me/p4jGvr-k9

 

 

 

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Categories: Aussie, Australia, Australian Life, Damper, Family & Friends, Food, Fun, Japan, Music, Swagman, The Gathering Place, The Land Down Under, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltzing Matilda | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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