One of the pleasures, or pains, of travelling is the lunchtime dilemma. Often solved on lazy days, by many travellers, with the Aussie obsession with Yankie Fast Food Outlets such as ‘Tuckey Duck or Wacca’s. We have found that these venues are all about long lunchtime lines, noisy vegemiter’s and cardboard food all of which we have come to detest. In effect they are designed for families and a cornucopia of kids. In some venues you even need to line up twice! One for adult coffee and another line for over-sweet bread delights and dry straw chips. These are not joys we seek out.
As a traveller, travelling the major routes on the sunrise-side often, we have come to love certain freecamps, particular towns and definitely showing a penchant for the good old Aussie pub lunch, about which I have often commented. Another treat, well beyond and often much improved on the U.S. Fast Food chain outlets, is the small town café. With the many, and constant upgrades along the coast road, the main tar track is universally bypassing the coastal towns along the way and as such you can see the growth of the ‘Service Centres’ for the travelling public along the new roads. Gone are the small mum and dad businesses and local cafés. These service stops, the places where you refuel and fuel up on fast foods along the motorways… they are the commercial centres of international food and fuel. Most are hubs for fast food outlets, which generally specialize in cardboard chips and salty, sweet or fried foods. They are busy, bustling and noisy with kids and some even charging ‘bum price’ for the use of a seat, particularly around Sydney. A practice I truly abhor and which has firmly gained a retail following throughout the tourist centres of Europe.
Last year we visited the western side of the USA, starting from Vancouver, Canada and on down to California and a sketch inland. You can read all about our experiences in the ebook ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’. We delighted in the few US diners we found, tolerated the menagerie of soon-to-be over familiar fast foods and observed the dining habits of the US Sepo’s vs. the familiar AU Yobbo’s we know and love. This was entertainment on an interesting scale and we had a ball, but what we surprisingly observed was the differences between the fare available at places like the Yankie ‘Tucky Duck venues, hamburger havens and the Aussie kindred outlets.
Aussies are being short changed! The FF outlets for ‘Tucky Duck are nothing akin to the Aussie chain. Firstly you are harder up finding them, in the US they are smaller, less distinct and rarely ever purpose built. The fare is also very different… they use fully bloated chooks over there, where as over here we are truly served baby chickens and instead of the cardboard strips that are identified as ‘french fries’ they serve honest-to-god chips! Fat and homely they are truly a feed. So how the hell did we end up accepting such dregs for offerings? Even in the burger offerings there are vastly different.
In the US they have much more competition, they have refill cups of soda and stuff they call coffee, which are like a comparison between the old fashioned Aussie hamburger and the snitchy little Wacka’s double beef burger that you could easily loose in a serviette… there is little to compare. I have found that since our visit I really have come to disdain the US-AU fast food chains.
Instead we have come to seek out those wonderful Aussie cafés that can be found along the tar track and down in the little towns. Towns like Kew in the Central NSW coast. We have a favourite café in Kew, just a titch off the motorway but a town worthy of its reputation of ‘good old country hospitality’. The local Pub there offers free overnight RV parking in its carpark for the traveller and if your looking for more accommodating space for the caravan, Kendall, which is just 2klms down the road offers caravan parking in the show ground. You can refuel at the local service station and the popular country café has developed disabled access and parking at the rear, which also provides access to the well-groomed golf ocourse next door while you play. It’s a great little stop.
I personally enjoy the treats of a light and healthy lunch break and The Man always enjoys his pepper pie and mug-achino in a real mug. Something the US and EU know nothing about. The service is always comfortable, the tucker good and the eclectic collection of locally made goodies for sale and comfy chairs, table and even an old-fashioned sitting room lounger is really delightful.
Another favoured stop of ours, and a delightful and popular freecamp, is the Lions Park at Bulahdelah. This lovely country town sits right alongside the Manning River and boasts a few cafés for variety, a local pub that serves homemade pies in a Bistro and the new free Telstra Wifi link just outside the door (‘free’ runs to June only’). You can sip away at your favourite tipple and allow all you pic’s from your iphone to upload to icloud as well as catch up with social media for the androids of the world. We usually restock at the IGA there and enjoy a country meal and a cool drink. Who needs crowds, endless lines of vegemiters and the usual fast fare of salt and fat while parked on those uncomfortable plastic kiddie seats. We love to explore what all those welcoming country towns can now offer, it’s well worth the detour and you will be amazed at what Aussie delights you can find if you veer off the beaten track.