Damper damn it

Damper is Australian bush bread, traditionally associated with swaggies and stockmen who were limited in what groceries they had access to and what they could carry when working away from the homestead or towns for yonks. Damper usually consists of flour, water, salt and sometimes milk, but the modern versions can have sultanas, sugar, cheese and/or herbs added to the mix or anything you have in your pannier.  Damper is traditionally baked in the coals of a fire or placed on a old branch and cooked over the fire. It was usually eaten with dried meat, or with golden syrup or honey dribbled on it (try maple syrup), but always accompanied by a cuppa made in a billy.

Ingredients: Basic Version.

  • self raising flour – 1/3 cup
  • salt – pinch
  • milk powder – teaspoon
  • water – couple of tablespoons
  1. Turn your stove on low and start heating the pot.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add a tablespoon of water and mix with a knife.  Keep folding the mixture on itself and then add the rest of water but don’t let the mixture get too sticky.
  3. Place a small amount of flour on a clean flat surface and place the dough on it, ensuring that dough has a light coating of flour on the outside and shouldn’t stick to your hands when handled.
  4. Cut a cross into the top of the damper and place it into your pot and cover.  Turning the heat up too much results in damper with a tough bottom and mushy insides.  It’s better to leave it on the lower heat and brown it slowly 25- 35 minutes is usually good.


  1. The above recipe uses dry goods to make the damper as they are easy to carry, store and last a long time.
  2. I use a old steamer that has had the folding wings taken off it to keep the damper off the bottom of the pot.
  3. You can add the milk powder to the water before mixing it in, and use a small amount of milk to coat the top of the damper to help it turn golden.
  4. Can be eaten with anything you fancy, vegemite, maple syrup, honey or can be eaten as is.
  5. This version makes a small bread roll size damper.


Catching the rain

When I crossed the Nullarbor in the middle of January this year, I camped out at the Penang Caravan Park, and whilst there, at about 3am, it started raining, it wasn’t heavy deluge but it did last for roughly 10 minutes and it was loud enough to wake me up, although in a tent, rain doesn’t need to be heavy to be much noise.

So next day driving towards Perth, I started thinking about ways to catch the rain when I finally do start my cycle trip across the Nullarbor,  I wanted something simple, quick to install and light, and I think I have made something that fits the bill.

I started with a strip of velcro across the width of the outer fly, with another strip on a flap to fold over and cover the first piece if the rain catcher is not fitted.

velcro strip
Unfolded velcro strip on the fly










Velcro fly
The folded velcro strip with no rain catcher fitted.










Fly velcro
The folding velcro strip on the fly.










The rain catcher has a strip of velcro on both sides of the top section, so when fitted the folding flap on the fly and fold over it.

The business end of the catcher comes together with another strip of velcro and it holds a piece of 25mm PVC pipe in place.

Velcro hold the two ends together and secures the PVC pipe in place.
Velcro hold the two ends together and secures the PVC pipe in place.











The PVC has an 45° elbow and about 150mm of PVC pipe into the folding containers mouth.  This was a late addition, when watching the tent from the comfort of the house, I saw the wind lift the catcher up and remove the elbow, so hopefully this fix that problem.  This end  of the catcher is secured in place with some cord and a stake.  I may add a stick to prop up this end and try to give it a bit of height.

Stepped back view of my masterpiece.
Stepped back view of my masterpiece.
Rain catcher connected to the tent.
Rain catcher connected to the tent.
Mocked up in the backyard.
Mocked up in the backyard.
Business end of the rain catcher
Business end of the rain catcher




































The only thing left to do is apply some seam sealer, where the velcro and the webbing have been stitched on.

The material I bought off eBay, it’s called Ripstop nylon waterproof fabric from a seller called lilylily.123, it took a while to arrive but it got here. Cost $11.oo with free shipping.

The webbing is 25mm black webbing bought from Spotlight at Joondalup, I think it cost $5ish.  The velcro was another eBay purchase, 25mm Olive colour, I bought two yards of this for $4.58.  My lovely wife got me the invisible waterproof thread, most likely from Spotlightas well, but only after she found out I had bought some nylon fishing line 0.3 mm that I was going to use in the old sewing machine. (which I had to repair first, a new top gear and treated it to some new feet, oh and a clean and oil.

The container in the picture is a foldable/collapsible 20L (eBay about $8), so when camping and I wake in the morning after some rain, I will have some spare water that I can use instead of my limited supply.

Feel free to ask questions.


H²O I didn’t know.

This is just an update to my earlier “Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink” post, since posting it, I have found out about the Camelbak® All Clear™ UV water purification bottle. An alternative to the SteriPEN from the previous article.

But first a word of our sponsors (not really a sponsor) I have changed it to metric speak and English.

camelbak-uvHydration Capacity: 750 mlallclear
Weight: 453 grams
Always: 100% BPA-Free
Warranty: Got Your Bak™ Lifetime Guarantee
Bottle Material: BPA-Free Eastman Tritan™ Copolyester.
Cap Material: BPA-Free Polypropylene

Reliable Purification, Whatever the Destination. CamelBak® All Clear™ utilises proven UV technology to effectively neutralise microbiological contaminants to EPA standards.  With a built-in LCD to confirm your results, purification has never been easier.

USB rechargeable as well.

CamelBak® All Clear™ turns nearly any tap or clear natural water source into potable drinking water in just 60 seconds, letting you hydrate on the spot.  Since CamelBak® All Clear™ is a water bottle as well as a purification system, you can enjoy your water right after treatment or carry it with you.

  • Portable purification system is built into your water bottle.
  • Utilises proven UV technology to effectively neutralise microbiological contaminants.
  • Treats 80 cycles or 60L with each charge.
  • Impact and weather-resistant cap insulates UV bulb for effective  purification every time.
  • LCD screen verifies success.
  • Fill from taps, streams and more.

Camelbak® recommends using their ‘All Clear™’ pre-filter, which is designed to be used pre-filterfor the All Clear™ Microbiological UV Water Purifier to strain out larger sediment particles prior to purification. As if you would do it afterwards.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aMgbLy08d4′]

An excuse to lie down on the job, as if I needed one.

I ventured out to Grand Anaconda Father’s Day sale last Friday night at Fyshwick. Every time I went by the sausage sizzle table, I got sorry mate just run out, be more in a few minutes. Three times this happened (bastards, it’s all a conspiracy against me).  Anyhow, been thinking about what type/sort of sleeping mat to buy for the Nullarbor trip, there so many makes and models to choose from. I was originally favouring the Synmat’s range of UL 9 and UL 7 mats but these type of items I like to actually see and feel in person to check their toughness and comfort and not be swayed by someone’s else opinion and photos and some Retail websites well their information is limited to company specifications which in some cases errs on their side.

Anyway back to my Abe Simpson type of story telling, whilst meandering around the aisles, tables and racks at Anaconda, I came to their sleeping mat area (not very big, had a total of three different brands, but only two were in stock, the 3rd was on special but no where in sight) I had narrowed my choice down to either the Black Wolf Standard (full was $179) or Standard 3/4 (was $120.99) but not on special and the ‘helpful man’ couldn’t tell when they would be on sale (head office doesn’t tell us in advance any more) or the Denali Slimline full length on sale at $72 (down from $119).

One thing in Anaconda’s favour is that each of their mats are actually on display so you compare them in real life. After much humming and harring, I went with the Denali slimline mat, due to price at the time ($62 with $10 voucher), it seemed ok to lay on in the store and the size and weight of the mat.  While the Synmat was my favourite for a while, I couldn’t justify gambling on a mat they may not be good for the job after some of the reviews I had read on them although not all reviews had the same problems. The Synmat are expensive plus add postage on top, and Thermarest mats, well their prices are outrageous no matter how their fanbois rave about them.  Even the missing 3rd brand was missing from the display area.

Haven’t slept on the Denali yet, but have unfolded it for overnight to let it inflate and what not according to their instructions and it actually rolls back up to a similar size that it was in the store. If it is deemed to be too thin, I can always buy a foam roll which weigh next to nothing and shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to carry about on the bike.

Time for some company literature on said item:

The Denali Slimline Wave Hike Mat is a lightweight self inflating mat that is perfect for your trekking or hiking adventures or crazy bicycle touring ideas! After a long day on foot all you want to do is have a lie down. This matt includes a waterproof carry bag, ensuring you’ll have a dry nights sleep even if you’ve walked around in the rain all day. It’s light and easy to carry around while on your trek or hike in the great outdoors.

  • Unique wave design for lower back support
  • Lightweight self inflating hike mat
  • Diamond TPU coated 75D rip-stop polyester top (techo jargon)
  • 75D polyester non-slip moon dot base
  • Waterproof dry sack carry bag included
  • Repair kit is provided (a whole 100 x 100mm patch and 1 tube of glue)

Specifications from the Anaconda Website:

  • Material: Diamond TPU coated 75D rip-stop polyester top, 75D polyester non-slip moon dot base
  • Fill: 19 kg/m3 foam
  • Dimensions: 180 x 57 x 4 cm
  • Stuff/ rolled size: 32 x 18 x 18 cm
  • Weight: 1.22 kg (the plastic bag states 0.990 kg)
  • Primary activity(s): Hiking or trekking
  • Warranty: 2 year

I think Denali must be an in-house brand for the Anaconda stores as I haven’t seen it in any other camping shops in Canberra, plus when I search on Denali Slimline the first ten pages are all Anaconda links.  I have no idea what TPU 75D polyester is and google doesn’t shed much light on it.

The instructions state to open the valve for the first time and leave it open for 6-8 hours to let the foam return to its natural height.  With the valve closed, the mat is a bit thin, but a few breaths and it inflates to its claimed 40mm height and is quite comfortable although I am lying on the carpeted floor inside.  After a few breaths you feel like having a lie down in any case with head spins.

When I actually roll it up again I’ll weigh it and see who is correct about the weight.  Added 25 Aug, The mat weighs in just over 1 kilo (1065 grams). Should have weighed the bag as is when I got it home after unpacking, inflating, re-rolling it back to original size. This weight is not including the carry bag (300 grams).

P.S. This model only comes in this colour