Cross posted on the Camp Cooinda Facebook page
I was reminiscing recently about time spent away from what many would call, “life’s modern conveniences”, in a land far far away – at least a tiny low lying island in East Gippsland. The special place that is Cooinda Island.
I remembered all the things I learnt on that place both as a camper and leader, some of which I still use today – also, some that strangely do not come up during day to day activities.
How to make bread and skin an eel
My first memory of the Isle, is what I think was my first summer as a camper. Dave and Al were the charismatic island directors and provided so much of what I feel Cooinda ‘is’. Dave is the author of the ‘Dave’s piece of piss bread’ recipe, the handwritten recording of which still in the Island cookbook today (I think?) – also attached at the bottom of this post.
Also on that impressionable summer, I learnt how to skin and smoke an eel, who ‘CondoMan‘ is and most importantly, learnt the ‘Noddy Joke’
I have never eaten eel again, mainly because I doubt I could ever manage to achieve the same amazing flavours again. I did however, twenty years later, make a CondoMan t-shirt which I still wear today.
The bread has been cooked by island directors every year since and, is something I continue to whip up – using a black garbage bag (to help with the proving) and imprecise measurements – at home from time to time.
Bake a cake in the sun and whip cream with two butter knives
My first cake produced in the solar oven was a piece of mastery, the discovery that so little can produce a little something wonderful, was amazing.
Scones, jam and cream was called for next. But the cream needs whipping.
No problem, we’ll grab the beaters…rusted solid… No drama, apparently the desired result can be achieved using a couple of butter knives. I have no idea how I discovered this, I imagine from whoever was on the island of knowledge at the time. So, two butter knives and about half an hour of frantic beating later, whipped cream!
All life long knowledge and skills that I suspect I would struggle to acquire anywhere else.
What has Cooinda Island taught you?