Alexandra Bridge campground is on Clarke Drive approximately 26kms north east of Augusta, at the southern end of the Margaret River region.
You can choose from 21 campsites, all only a couple of minutes walk to the tranquil Blackwood river.
The sites are all clearly set out and numbered, and some are quite roomy with easy access for most sized caravans. There are designated fire pits, approximately one fire pit between every two camp sites. All fires must be contained in the fire pits, and there’s a barbecue plate and a billy hook for cooking or brewing up over the open fire. No wood is supplied, and taking wood from the forest carries a hefty fine, so you need to bring your own firewood. There are time restrictions on when the fires are supposed to be lit, currently 6pm – 11pm only. I’m pleased to say no-one seemed to abide by the start time, thank goodness, as for me to get Paul’s birthday dinner cooked over the fire, it needed to be lit by around 3pm.
There’s a registration booth upon entry and a box in which to post your $10 per adult or $5 per child for the nightly fee. A weekly discount is available for concession card holders. The campground has a fresh water tap, flushing toilets, and a cold water open air shower. Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash at all times.
We set off for a three night camp on Wednesday to celebrate Paul’s birthday.
7A looked a pretty good spot, and was away from a bigger group set up further along the campground. We thought it had it’s own barbecue pit, but as we found out later that barbecue pit belonged to site 6, which was probably the smallest site in the camp ground. A newcomer, arriving only a couple of hours after us, decided this very small site would suit them fine, with the decision made for them when they spied our stash of wood set up at the side of the fire pit. Never mind – we shared both the fire, and Paul’s camp oven birthday dinner.
We had with us a newly purchased 9litre, pre-seasoned camp oven which we christened with a massive gravy beef, ale, and chunky vegetable stew. Paul was a bit concerned when he saw two pints of his home brewed Yorkshire Bitter disappearing into the camp oven! Firstly I browned the gravy beef in the heated oven hung on the hook over a flaming fire. Then I added a couple of stalks of chopped celery, a dozen or so small peeled onions and half a bulb of crushed garlic separated into cloves. Next I added salt and pepper to taste and about 1/2 cup of plain flour, followed by Paul’s home brew.
With the meat all browned and bubbling away, I moved the barbecue plate over the fire and placed the oven on top to keep it at a gently simmer for the next two hours. Next, in went whole unpeeled potatoes and big chunky pieces of carrot, and finally about 10 minutes before we were ready to eat a big bunch of chopped, home grown silver-beet, and a small packet of frozen, sliced beans. There’s nothing can make a humble stew taste nicer than being cooked over an open fire. Eating it sitting on a log around that same fire on a chilly winter’s evening, under a star studded sky in the middle of a forest – one of life’s simple pleasures for sure.
I must apologise though – we forgot to take photos. I guess sharing the camp fire with newly met people didn’t make it easy to start photographing the cooking process for my blogging audience.
Anyway, photos or not, the stew was a great success. The stew was huge and fed four of us that night, plus Paul and I for the next two nights, as well as Mr Tilly every night. We followed it with golden syrup dumplings cooked in a small billy pot hanging from the hook over the open fire. If you’ve never had golden syrup dumplings cooked on an open fire, here’s the recipe.
For the dumplings
1 cup of self raising flour
1 tbsp of butter
2 – 3 tbsp of milk
For the sauce
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp of golden syrup
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Rub the butter into the flour. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg and enough milk to make a stiff dough.
Place all of the sauce ingredients into the billy, (or a saucepan for the stovetop). Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Drop small balls of dough into the gently simmering sauce (makes six), cover with a lid and continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.
Again, no photos taken at the campsite, but I made the dumplings on our first night home on the stove top so as I take a photo for you to see(that’s my excuse anyway for making them for a second time with only a few days in between).
We had a diesel heater in our last rig, but only have the reverse cycle heating in this newer rig. We hadn’t taken the generator, and I doubt we would have spoiled the peaceful ambience of the forest by running it for sake of heating up the van even if we had taken it. Needless to say by morning the van was feeling pretty cool, a perfect excuse for a lie in with a good book, as we snuggled under the the cuddly fake sheepskin top blanket we had on the bed. Mr Tilly slept in his usual place, curled up between us on top of the bed until we woke in the morning. Then he too was clearly feeling the cold as he didn’t take much coaxing to get him to move to between the top cuddly blanket and the duvet where he nestled down for the last hour or so before we rose to start the day. Then hot showers in the van, porridge cooked in the open air and we ready to start the day exploring the area nearby. More about that to come later……