Antipodean Spatchler

Use the spatchler to cook tucker in the outback

Queensland Pete relaxes at a traditional Australian barbecue

ESSENTIAL USER NOTES

Not to be confused with its smaller cousin the North European spatula, the Antipodean spatchler (these days more usually simply referred to as the spatchler) is an essential utensil found in outback kitchens throughout the Australian bush. "Never mind your Extreme Chef's Essential Utensil Kit," Ready, Steady, Chuck!'s Antipodean correspondent, Queensland Pete, explains. "The only tools the Australian chef needs to prepare his meals are a machete and a spatchler."

After six months of hard work, Queensland Pete has finally finished his research. "I learnt everything I know about spatchlers from an experienced field worker who's been thoroughly examining every bush he comes across, by the name of May Rears," he says. "It was he who trained me in the correct use of the spatchler and demonstrated how versatile it could be. When we first met, he pointed out the simple error I made of bringing a conventional spatula along with my billy cans! Honestly, he laughed so much the corks hanging from his hat nearly fell off. 'That's not a spatchler', he said. And there and then, in two minutes flat, with a couple of swings of his machete he hand crafted one especially for me from a 1000 year old eucalyptus tree, and used the rest of the wood as fuel for the camp fire."

Traditionally made from eucalyptus, banksia or wolla wogga wogga wood, authentic spatchlers are decorated with aboriginal patterns that depict the origins of the world, the creatures of the bush, and other traditional religious symbols. From swatting moths used to garnish soup, to digging the toilet or making camp cake, the spatchler is among the most versatile of Antipodean cooking utensils. It's used to dig for water, to shade you from the sun, to scrape possums off the road, as a cricket bat, as a sundial to tell you when it's time to open another beer, for spanking feral bears, and to fend off dangerous packs of angry wombats. Some types of spatchler are even shaped so that when you throw them, they come right back to you. And the largest spatchlers can be used as wobble boards so that you can provide pleasantly diverting musical accompaniment around the campfire in the evening.

"The only tools the Australian chef needs to prepare his meals are a machete and a spatchler."
Use this utensil to make pretty much any Australian bush tucker dish

QUICK START GUIDE

DO:

  • ensure you take a spatchler with you when you're going on trips to the outback;
  • use the spatchler as a substitute for pretty much every other kitchen utensil except a machete. You should use a machete as a machete;
  • keep your spatchler in a handy place in the car, so that you can gather roadkill for the camp kitchen without causing unnecessary traffic problems, particularly when in urban areas.

DON'T:

  • confuse a North European spatula with an Antipodean spatchler. They're completely different things;
  • forget your machete! A spatchler is always a trusty tool, but every once in a while a machete will make life just a little easier;
  • forget to be careful walking around late at night on 26 January. On Australia Day, be aware of unexpected trip hazards on pavements after closing time.

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