We go exploring to experience real places and meet real people, so why not seek out real, local food? Hiking and camping cuisine is often dehydrated meals, lollies and two minute noodles, but does it have to be? To find out, our Explorer Georgie Smyth gave local food a crack whilst hiking in Tasmania
The Local Food Challenge
On a recent hiking trip to Tasmania my boyfriend and I challenged ourselves to shop for supplies as locally as possible to make sure our hard earned cash stayed in the region. On top of that we deliberately sought out locals for tips, like where to camp, the best places for a wild swim and the best bakeries in little towns.
Our five days of hiking (which included tackling Cape Raoul, Mount Roland, Cradle Mountain and Mount Field National Park) took us all over the Apple Isle, allowing us to take advantage of roadside fruit and vegetable stalls every day, as well as small bread shops and butcheries.
We even got the lowdown on avoiding crazy traffic jams out of Hobart from a man selling strawberries at the side of the main road, heading out of Cape Raoul.
On the drive north to Mount Roland we drove through the Huon Valley, which is absolutely teeming with fruit orchards. There are dozens of stalls on the side of the road selling everything from apples and peaches to homemade fruit ice-cream.
Fresh Veggies For The Road
As we passed through Launceston on our way to Cradle Mountain, we restocked for dinner at Young’s Vegie Shed (locally owned and stocked with fresh Tasmanian produce). A basket full of vegetables and some beef from Philip Warren Butchers (just outside of town) made for a super easy stir-fry that we threw together mid-way through a night hike.
Straight To The Source
All this walking and eating is thirsty work and it’s easy to find yourself low on fresh water. But don’t panic! If you’re far enough into the wilderness you should be able to find a clean water source to collect from.
We found a lovely little stream at Mount Roland and followed it all the way to the top where we refilled our bottles and water bladders. It’s always cleaner at the source and we were going there anyway!
Apart from being extremely convenient, wild water tastes so wonderfully different to tap water. It takes on the flavours of the flora growing around it and the rocks lining the water course; another way to digest the wildness around you.
Not so confident on the water quality? Here’s How To Purify Water in the Bush.
Sometimes you can’t avoid buying hard-core hiking meals, snacks and tools for long trips away but, if you can, buy from a local camping store. We found a great shop in Hobart called Mountain Creek Outdoors.
We got a handful of great local topography maps and dehydrated meals on top of invaluable tips for places to go and just as important, places to avoid. The staff were really passionate about the outdoors and Tasmania and we left knowing we were on our way to discovering some amazing places.
Eight Top Tips To Help You Keep It Local
Have a rough idea of what you might like to cook, but be prepared to plan meals on the go based on what local food is on offer.
Bring plenty of change for honesty boxes and fruit stalls.
Fruit and veg are hard to keep for a long time in backpacks so be sure to store them properly and eat them ASAP. Where possible go for the harder produce. Oranges, apples and carrots are less likely to get squashed than bananas and grapes!
If foraging, make sure you’re not breaking any laws. Of course taking anything from national parks is prohibited. When you find a fruit bush or tree make sure the fruit falls off easily in your hand, that way you know it’s ripe and ready to eat. Many of these plants are considered weeds and may have been sprayed with poison, so eat these at your own risk!
When searching for drinking water avoid streams that run through farmland as pesticides and animal faeces do not make for a refreshing drink! Find flowing water, follow the stream up and collect from as close to the source as possible. Try to skim the top of the water to avoid collecting anything else but that wild water.
If you are buying dehydrated food and other outdoors goods, seek out local camping stores. They’ve often got the best tips on the area too!
When buying local maps ask locals if there’s anything you should watch out for like impassable trails, sheer cliffs or landslides. Not everything is shown on the map.
Research! Every place is different and it takes time to get to know the lay of the land. Keep researching once you get there too. Local knowledge is king and if you help locals out and support their region by buying local food, you never know what wilderness gems they might offer you in return…
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