Your barbie-Ps and your barbecues

THE sausages always smelt good when they were cooking on it. The taste however, wasn’t always 100 per cent.

Even though the meat tended to have a slight hint of tar to it, our barbecue was the centre point for many of our family celebrations when growing up in Yangoolum.

Dad considered himself something of a handyman.

The town council disagreed however, as evidenced by the numerous building code violations and court summons.

He found it difficult to convince them that his need for a garden fountain in the front yard was more important than the need for fire safety, and that was why he’d tapped the underground hydrant in front of our house in order to push the water up the gigantic 11m high sculpture made of poly pipe and terracotta pots.

There were no qualms with his home made barbecue out the back though, mostly because he never got clearance for it in the first place.

It was clear that water flowed better down the stormwater drain in the front street with the debris grate removed, and we had a new grill plate, so everybody was a winner.

Dad loved his meat and his barbie design allowed for plenty of it. He didn’t believe in the new (at the time) gas powered, portable options, instead choosing to build a flame cavity so big it was more of a small furnace.

Whole Eucalypt logs could be rolled in. They’d go on smouldering for days after the left-over onions had been tossed from the fridge.

One time the local pottery group caught wind that we were planning a barbecue and requested use of our big barbie to fire their wares, kiln style.

Our backyard was really in favour when the local crematorium’s oven went on the blink during a rampant flu season.

Initially dad bricked a chimney that rose above the roof of the house. His decision to build it in the first place was all a bit rushed though.

As soon as he saw the neighbours had decided to go ahead with their extension, he availed himself to a pallet of bricks they weren’t using (yet).

Eventually, their extension turned out half a metre shorter than anticipated but we ended up with one heck of a meat roaster/fryer/griller/burner.

Barbecues provide a great outdoor entertaining option so it’s worth thinking about building one.

You’ll note I’ve said “building” because you really appreciate it more if you’ve pieced it together yourself.

Sure the sausages may tend to roll to one side if you haven’t got it level, and the liquefied fat has a tendency to cause third-degree burns when it spills out onto the cook’s feet while he/she is not looking due to the smoke inhalation caused by the stack being too short, but they are all memories that’ll be reflected on in the future with fondness (and perhaps pain if skin grafts were required).

There are no rules when building a barbecue. There are council regulations yes, but not rules as such. If you want two hotplates, go ahead. Thinking about installing a sink on one side- why not? Putting in a cupboard underneath? Sounds good. Allowing room for an extra fine grill because that guinea pig hair is just so fine when it singes off? Absolutely.

Make no mistake, your friends will judge you on the barbecue you have, so you’d better have a good one.

Tip of the Month: Keep a Stanley knife handy on each fence out the back, so when the neighbours’ kids’ soccer balls or footballs come over the fence, you’re able to make a quick incision and lob it back over where it’ll bother nobody any more.

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Better Backyards with Gherkin JarvisSelf-proclaimed gardening expert and carpet enthusiast, Gherkin Jarvis, brings you his thoughts on Australia’s great lifestyle tradition, the backyard.


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