While living in Tasmania I ended up staying for a while at Tasman Backpackers in Devonport – basically a live in, working hostel for travellers and workers on the nearby farms. Once a month we did a communal food night which meant that over 50 people that lived in the massive complex (a former hospital/nursing centre) would cook and eat together.
Each person was asked to contribute one meal or dish of their choice, so I was in. Initial thoughts were to do something Irish or Northern Irish. But that would have meant soda bread, potato bread or an Ulster Fry. On a backpackers budget I couldn’t justify making enough Ulster Fry to go round a few people – though I often cooked it for myself. So I went for something local instead…
I’m no chef, far from it (despite having worked in numerous takeaway joints and restaurants) but I had a fondness for Australian meat. Especially kangaroo. I love it. However, the local shop in Tasmania sold Wallaby mince so I decided to buy that and cook up some wallaby bolognaise. It cost $4.29 AU – this was in March 2010.
Wallaby is a delicious lean meat and wallaby mince can be used in all normal mince applications and recipes. Wallaby is also good for your health. The stuff I bought was packed locally in Tasmania and became a personal favourite while living on the remote island.
Now I had the wallaby mince, what should I make? Wallaby bolognaise of course! For that I needed apples, onions, tomato puree, spaghetti and salt and pepper. But I’m a backpacker on a budget and at the time was living out of a dirty bag and working on a farm. So it was the cheap option for me!
I bought 2 tins of spaghetti, some cheap pasta sauce (tomato and herbs), some carrots, onions and apples and mixed it all in with the cooked wallaby mince. I added some pepper, salt and nutmeg (which they had in the hostel) and it was ready to go!
Was it nice? Yes, myself and others loved it!! I bet a lot of people that ate it didn’t even know what it was – it was one of the first meals to be finished that night of the 50 odd that were cooked. I was happy o contribute such a fine meal. In the irony and oddness of life however, I haven’t cooked it since. My gorgeous wallaby bolognaise remains timelocked to my special travel memories of living and working in Tasmania, the land under the land down under. A lifestyle of travel brings you these everlasting memories!
Thanks to all who lived and shared the experience with me in Tasman House/Tasman Backpackers in Devonport, Tasmania. Don’t stop living!
Here’s a short video of the international food night including the wallaby bolognaise: