Tag Archives: backyard

An Outdoor Living Christmas

Imagine celebrating Christmas in the northern hemisphere when it’s cold.. what a joke!  Can you imagine backyard cricket in the snow?  Give us an Aussie Christmas with all the trimmings: the laughter of kids at play, the smell of cut grass, the warmth of the sun, the chill of an ice cold beverage, and a belly full of A grade tucker!  With the silly season right upon us, we asked a few faces on the Outdoor Living Direct team what Christmas means to them.

Nick Hulston

Nick works in customer service in our Cheltenham warehouse/showroom facility.  If you come in on the right day he’ll be there greeting you and showing you around the stock.  When he’s not working here, he’s at uni studying law, or enjoying his spare time following the cricket or footy.

What does Christmas Day mean to you?

Christmas means spending time with family. It is always associated with a hot summer’s day, the parents sitting around the dining table and all the cousins playing backyard cricket and kicking a soccer ball waiting in anticipation for the moment of utter jubilation that comes with opening up the presents scattered around the tree.

What’s your favourite memory of backyard Christmas?

My favourite memory would be the intense sessions of backyard cricket with my brothers, cousins and uncles, full of energy prior to Christmas lunch and battling lethargically after the festival feast.

Backyard cricket – do you partake?

Its not Christmas without backyard cricket!

What’s on the menu for Christmas?

It’s usually the standard Christmas lunch. Starters with cheese and biscuits, then followed by fresh prawns with dipping sauce. The main course follows shortly after consisting of Roasted Ham, Turkey and Chicken with a vast array of roasted veggies, peas and beans.

Which items in our range do you think are the best for people to use this coming Christmas season?

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with a Kakadu pod chair, whether it be a present for a loved one or a well deserved present for yourself.  If you’re looking for something a little bigger, my new favourite lounge is the Banksia 4 piece lounge, and with the choice of Wheat, Grey Brush or Black rattans you’ll be sure to find a colour that will compliment your backyard area perfectly!

What advice do you have for anyone hosting or attending a backyard Christmas this year?

Cadbury Favourites, what to bring when you’re told not to bring a thing.

Ben Pratt

Ben works in customer service in our Cheltenham showroom facility. He also dabbles occasionally in the warehouse. In his spare time he enjoys playing guitar, surfing with mates and making coffee as a part time barista, as well as studying teaching at uni.

What does Christmas Day mean to you?

Christmas Day to me means family, classic bon bon jokes and too much food.

What’s your favourite memory of backyard Christmas?

Cooking the barbeque in boardies with dad, my uncles and my cousins, talking some junk and catching up with everyone. I also love seeing the younger cousins opening their presents and being genuinely pumped.

Backyard cricket – do you partake?

Most of the cousins are a bit older now so some of the intensity has dissipated from the game but if the willow is out then the crew will put a few overs in. A couple of the uncles still think they’re pretty crash hot so it’s good to put them back in their place every now and then ha.

What’s on the menu for Christmas?

I’ll be at dad’s side of the family up in Rochester this year so it is generally a fairly traditional set up. Ham, pork, turkey, chicken, plenty of potatoes and of course the Chrissy pudding – the works!

Which items in our range do you think are the best for people to use this coming Christmas season?

Obviously it depends on the space people have but I don’t think you can go past the Santa Fe. Deep, comfortable seats with great colour combos and enough space to seat the fam. For a splash of colour and something modern, a few Acapulco chairs would look great on the deck or in the yard to chill out with a festive glass of vino.

What advice do you have for anyone hosting or attending a backyard Christmas this year?

Keep the barbeque hot, the esky cold and the kids covered in sunscreen. Please don’t forget the bon bon jokes, everyone loves a good bon bon joke regardless of what they say!

Melissa Sparrow

Melissa, the Digital Marketing Co-ordinator here at Outdoor Living Direct, is based in our Cheltenham warehouse/showroom facility and has the role of looking after all the marketing and design! In her spare time, Melissa likes to spend time with family and friends, shopping, learning to cook and playing with her two dogs Chloe and Barney.

What does Christmas Day mean to you?

Christmas Day to me means spending time with family and friends, eating lots of food and then sleeping it off on the couch, before backing it up for round 2 at night.

What’s your favourite memory of backyard Christmas?

My favourite memory would be Christmas Day down at my Nan and Pop’s house in Portarlington. All the family would enjoy a big Christmas lunch, followed by games and fun in the sun to see through the afternoon.

Backyard cricket – do you partake?

I have in the past but I’m not very good! Shane Warne wouldn’t be impressed!

What’s on the menu for Christmas?

The Christmas menu is always traditional for us – turkey, ham, pork, veggies, potatoes, plum pudding and pavlova – all the good stuff!

Which items in our range do you think are the best for people to use this coming Christmas season?

I personally love the Acapulco replica range. Spoil your loved ones with a burst of colour this Christmas. Comfortable, affordable and they also look great. I also can’t go past the new Summer timber range. With a beautiful honey colour timber extendable table this setting is sure to please and be the ideal piece when it comes to hosting a big group of people this Christmas.

What advice do you have for anyone hosting or attending a backyard Christmas this year?

Arrive with an empty stomach! Christmas Day is the day to indulge! 🙂

Getting Your Backyard Ready for Summer

It’s official.  Spring is well and truly here..

..and summer is just around the corner!  Now that the sun’s back in the habit of peering out to say hello, you probably don’t feel like you need much excuse to spend a bit of time outside.  But if you wanted one anyway, here it is: spring is the perfect time of year to check over your outdoor area and give it a bit of a spruce-up.  Here’s our quick guide to getting your backyard ready for summer.

How will you be using your backyard?

Before you do anything else, have a think about how you’re going to use your backyard in the warm and sunny months to come.  Who’s going to be here?  What will they be doing?  Does it need to be kid-safe?  Do you have pets?  Will you be hosting any parties?  With a clear idea of what’s going to happen in your backyard, you’ll have a better idea of what the most crucial tasks are to prepare it.

Make the whole household help

If you don’t live on your own, don’t try to do everything on your own.  Many hands make light work, and by working as a team you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air and spring sunshine together.  This is also a great opportunity to help kids or teenagers earn a few life skills that will help prepare them to live well once they’ve fled the nest.

Clean garden tools and organise supplies

Cleaning your tools will help prevent the spread of any plant pathogens and also gives you a chance to spot which tools need repair or replacement.  More than that, clean and sharp tools work better and last longer.  Remove any dirt or debris and then dip into a disinfectant solution.  Scrub off rust and apply mineral oil to prevent more rust from forming.  Sharpen any tools that need it.  Spend a little time bringing your tools up to scratch and you will save yourself time in the long run.  Supplies you might want to check your stocks of include fertiliser, plant and potting mix, and cleaning products.

Getting your lawn ready for summer

A good lawn is a multi-use space.  If you have children – either the sort with two legs or the ones with four – a lawn is the perfect area for them to play.  It’s also the ideal area to hang out when you have guests over on a lovely summer evening.  A healthy lawn has a wonderful cooling effect on your property on a hot day:  water evaporating off the grass cools your garden and in turn your home.  This makes you more comfortable on a hot day and will reduce your air conditioner needs too, saving you money and reducing your energy use.  A well-maintained lawn also smells nice and looks gorgeous, and provides a great setting to relax and let go of stress.  For all these reasons and more, it can be a great idea to give this space a bit of care and attention in spring.

First give the lawn a thorough scan and remove sticks, leftover autumn leaves, and other debris.  The idea here is to remove anything that might get in the way of sunlight and oxygen.  Then rake the lawn to remove thatch that will stop the soil getting the oxygen it needs.  Test your lawn’s pH and correct if necessary: most lawn grasses perform best between 6.5 and 7.  If you have any bald patches, sow some seed.  Fertilise the lawn.  These little tweaks will all do their bit for a lush and healthy lawn in summer.

Garden care

Most plants adore the warmth and sun of spring.  For weeds, it’s a party!  Given the chance, weeds will have their way with everything they can, so be swift and merciless in serving harsh garden justice.  Rip weeds out of the ground and regard them with scorn and derision as you doom them to the compost heap.  (Strictly speaking, you don’t have to utter grand declarations of victory and power as you tear the weeds from their soil homes, but it seems silly not to.)  Destroy weeds before they multiply.  This is very much a case of “a stitch in time saves nine” because a few weeds can quickly turn into many weeds, which in turn means more work.

After a thorough weeding, give the garden a thorough feeding.  Once the next rain has passed over, scatter slow release fertiliser over everything.

Spring is also pruning season for many plants.  Remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems.  Spring is also the right time to prune summer blooming plants.  Spring flowering plants should be pruned after they’ve finished blooming.

Don’t forget the pot plants!  Most healthy container plants eventually outgrow their pots.  Even if the plant hasn’t outgrown its pot, it might still need repotting as the potting mix can grow tired and run out of nutrients.  Check to see which plants need repotting and then repot them.

Plant some herbs or start a vegetable garden

If you don’t yet have a little herb and/or vegetable garden in your backyard, spring is the perfect time to start one.  The beauty of this is that you don’t have to venture too far for fresh, home grown produce.  Home grown produce always seems to taste that little bit better than store bought produce, and you’ll never eat fresher.  Why not take the time to find a nice, sunny spot in your garden and grown your very own vegetable patch today?  Growing vegetables can be fun. It’s a great little project for children and a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the warm spring/summer days.  Your family and friends will love you for it and we’re sure you’ll enjoy caring for your little patch of goodness.

Find a sunny spot in your garden.  Most vegetables like plenty of heat.  If you are limited by space and need to plant your herbs and vegetables in pots, make sure you choose the sunniest position on your balcony or courtyard.  If you’ve only got space for one or two pots, don’t be put off!  You might be surprised what one lonely plant is capable of.  A single basil plant often produces more of the stuff faster than a whole household can eat it for months and months to come.

Learning which vegetables to plant and how to tend to them for the best harvest is probably easier than you think.  Planning is important.  If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of delicious vegetables and herbs all summer long.  For a good overview of what delicious munchables can go into the ground right now in your part of Australia, check out the Gardenate website.  Decide which vegetables you and your family enjoy most and start small.  Don’t overdo it and end up with a whole lot of vegtables going to waste.  Determine how much space you’ll need and find the sunniest spot in your garden.  Vegetable patches thrive off heat!  The next step is to design and plan out your patch.  Soil is also very important when it comes to creating a vegetable patch.  Most vegetables do best in moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter, such as compost.  Once you are happy with your soil it’s time to start digging.  Loosen the soil and then lay compost down working this into the soil.  When you’re done digging, smooth the surface with a rake, then water thoroughly.  Allow the bed to rest for several days before you plant.  After a couple of days it’s time to start planting.  Dig small holes and plant your chosen seeds.  You’ll notice there is a huge variety of vegetable plants to choose from.  Each variety will be a little different, so take time to read the tags and ensure you are planting exactly what you’d like.  Once your seeds have been planted it’s important to keep the area moist, but not so much that they’re standing in water.  About an inch or so of water per week is about all they need.  Fertilizing is also important for growth and longevity.

Then comes the best bit: harvesting.  This is what it’s all about.  Don’t be afraid to pick your produce.  If it looks good enough to eat then it probably is.  The more you pick the more you produce!  Enjoy.

Outdoor lighting

As the days become longer more and more people choose to sit outside and enjoy their outdoor areas at night. Having suitable lighting helps create a space that you can enjoy even once the sun goes down.  There are many lighting options which are sure to add character and light to any outdoor space.

Candles are a great choice when it comes to night time entertaining.  Choose to turn off your brighter lighting and opt for a more romantic, intimate setting with a bunch of candles.  The beauty of candles are that they come in a variety of colours, shapes, sizes and fragrances so the choice is yours.

You can also create a modern, contemporary look by placing lanterns or firepots throughout your outdoor area.  Similar to a candle a lantern or firepot is sure to provide your space with gorgeous light and a relaxed atmosphere, and won’t be so easily blown out by a gust of wind.  Lanterns and firepots can be purchased in many bright colours with beautiful detailed trimmings.  This is a perfect inclusion if you’re looking to turn your outdoor area into a tranquil space.  Some firepots also come with citronella, which is handy for deterring mosquitoes.

The latest trend in outdoor lighting is LED lights.  LEDs are energy efficient and can last up to 30 times longer than standard lighting technology, meaning they’re ideal for outside where lights are often left on for long periods of time.  Solar LED lights require no wiring which can make them a great temporary/removable solution.

Another great outdoor lighting idea is path lighting.  Having lights running along a path, maybe to a front entrance, creates a welcoming, inviting feel to a home.  Flood lighting is also great for highlighting specific areas of your house or outdoor area. Enhance a particular area with a flood light for an instant, eye catching effect.  Outdoor lighting is also a great tool when it comes to home security.  Adequate lighting can discourage thieves and reduce accidents.

If entertaining outdoors is your style then check your lighting regularly.  A light that doesn’t light is no light at all!  A party is the dark isn’t anyone’s ideal situation.  Do you really want your guests reaching out to pat Mittens the kitten, only to get scratched by a possum?  Make sure your lighting is current and checked regularly.


Gutters are very important in draining water away from your home, however they can get clogged with leaves, debris, nests and insects over time.  When there is too much debris in the gutter it traps the water causing the gutter to rust and break away.  This is not good!  To prevent this from happening, gutters should be cleaned out at least twice a year: at the beginning of autumn and the beginning of spring.  Just like maintaining the inside of your home it’s important to maintain the exterior roofing and guttering to ensure your home continues to offer shelter and security to you and your family for many years to come.

Gates and Fences

While you’re out and about in the yard, be sure to run your eye over fences and gates and check that everything’s in good order.  This is especially important if you have someone in your family with a wet nose and a waggy tail.  Check along the fence line for any loose palings, rotted or split timber, or spots where a keen canine could tunnel under.  Check that the gates are in good working order too: check the timber, the latches and the hinges and make a note of anything that needs maintenance or repair.

Spring cleaning your pool

The days are getting warmer and the kids are probably already asking “when can we go for a swim?”.  Was your pool covered over winter?  Are you now a little worried to look underneath the lid?  Don’t panic!  With these few quick tips, your pool will be back up and running in no time.  Inspect all your pool equipment and chemicals and replace any pool accessories or expired chemicals.  Remove any leaves, debris and water from your pool lid. Over winter a range of things would have built up on your lid.  This is the time to clean it up.  During winter it’s also common for the water level in your pool to drop.  Simply refill using a garden hose to the required level, being careful to observe any water restrictions in effect in your area.  Clean out the filters, jets and valves.  Make sure you clean the filter before turning on the pump. Turn the pump on and check for any leaks.  Using a net, skim the water surface for any leaves or debris which may have made their way in under the cover or even while you were refilling.  Let the water sit for a few hours before adding any chemicals. Use a water analysis kit to check the pH level of the water.  Add the appropriate chemicals to bring your pH levels to where they need to be and add chlorine to eliminate any bacteria that may have built up over the winter months.  Then once your pool is clean and ready for swimming, jump in and enjoy the warm summer months in the water with family and friends.

Spring cleaning water features

Water features also require a bit of TLC once spring hits.  Over the winter months we tend to care less for our ponds, fountains and other water features.  This is common as we’re not going outside as much.  However now that spring is here it’s important to check for any murky water or algae which may have built up over the cooler months.  If there is sediment build up and leaves floating on the top, and the water is murky, cleaning will help keep fish healthier (if you have fish) and unwanted algae from growing.  Clear out dead leaves.  Remove pumps to give them a gentle clean and check that they’re in good working order.

Spring cleaning your outdoor furniture

Your outdoor furniture will need a little bit of care and attention to get your best use from it.  Check everything over for bird poop, mould or mildew.  Click here for our guide to maintaining your outdoor furniture.

Wash windows

Be sure to pick a cloudy spring day for this job.  If it’s too sunny the cleaning solution will dry too fast and leave streaks on the glass.  It’s also good to use two cloths: one to wipe on your cleaner of choice and the other to wipe off.  Avoid using a white vinegar solution as this creates a negative electric charge that attracts dust.  Instead use a commercial window cleaning solution or a solution of ammonia in water, and some micro-fibre cloths.  Avoid using newspaper to clean your windows.  If you clean with newspaper it then can’t be recycled, and once a newspaper becomes wet the ink is prone to run and get everywhere.  Your cleaning job may then double in size!

Patios, porches, deck areas

As summer beckons, spending time on the patio or deck is going to start looking more and more appealing.  Decaying leaves and other debris are unsightly and can stain, so clear them away as soon as possible.  Move furniture away so that you don’t miss anything, then give the area a sweep.  Wooden decks need to be cleaned every spring with bleach solution to kill mould and mildew.  Use an oxygenated bleach cleaner designed especially for decks.  Don’t use regular household chlorine bleach as this will damage the wood fibres nearly as well as it kills bacteria.

Garden paths

Clear the path of debris such as twigs or fallen leaves.  If your path is made of concrete pavers or bricks, remove any grass that’s growing in between them.  If you have a gravel path, check for any weeds growing through the gravel and remove.  Then level the path by raking.  Gravel paths tend to lose a bit of gravel over time and may need the gravel refreshed every three years or so.  Dirt paths should be sprayed with a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent any weeds from growing.

Special projects

Spring is also a great time of year to tackle any big projects you’ve been contemplating, such as building a deck or doing a full backyard makeover.  If you’re looking to do something like this: great!  Try though to have it completed or at least somewhat tidy before summer comes around.  You don’t want your backyard to be a construction zone all the way into the new year.. it’s better that it’s ready for guests and good times and maybe a few christmas drinks without any full wheelbarrows, wet concrete or exposed nails lying around.  Don’t fall into the trap of having an outdoor area that’s always “under construction” and never fit to be enjoyed!

Okay, you’re nearly done

Congratulations on making it this far through your spring cleaning.  It’s utterly crucial at this point to select a liquid refreshment of your choice and place it in the fridge.  This is a simple but critical task in your spring cleaning checklist.  Be very careful not to skip it.

Clean or replace welcome mat

Is your welcome mat looking a little worse for wear after the winter months?  Have insects made a little home amongst the bristles in the mat or is it just beyond cleaning?  If the answer’s yes then it’s time to replace! Liven’ the entrance of your home will a brand new mat which will set the mood for everyone that comes through your door.  Otherwise, give your old mat a vacuum and then spray it with a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar to kill mould, bacteria and germs.  A colourful, clean door mat will freshen the entrance of your home and make everyone feel happy and welcomed, and is your first line of defence in keeping dirt and mud from your carpets . Don’t forget the back door mat too.

Clean the rubbish bins

Pick a sunny day for this task, but not a stinking hot one.  Ever wondered why those stinking hot days are so darn stinking?  It might be because the wheelie bins went too long without a clean!  So get in and give ’em a wash before the humid heat starts turning your gorgeous green garden into a sweaty summer stench sauna.  Lay the bins on their side and hose inside each one to remove any rubbish which may have missed the cut!  If you hose the bins down on your front lawn any excess water will simply run onto your grass and hopefully help with growth.  Then give the insides a once over with a mop and soapy water and then let them dry.  There you go, well done.  The insides of your bins are now clean enough to eat off!  Wait.. hang on a second, please don’t do that.  It’s a terrible suggestion.  I’m sorry I came up with it.  Use a plate, and be happy that your bins aren’t going to smell up your lovely garden on even the hottest summer day.

Wipe away cobwebs

Spiders are nifty critters.  Most common house spiders pose no danger to people and occupy a useful spot in the local ecosystem.  They’re great for keeping down local populations of nuisances like ants, flies and mosquitoes.  Don’t get too down on your eight legged friends, they make our lives so much better.

That said, an outdoor area with cobwebs everywhere is not a lot of fun.  There’s nothing like walking right into one to suddenly realise that you too can leap about erratically like an extra in a bad kung fu film.  So take a broom and clear the cobwebs away from awnings, umbrellas and arches.  In those little spaces where a broom won’t fit, a thin paintbrush is probably just the ticket.  If spiders have a habit of building webs overnight in the centre of your garden arch then you may wish to put some lemon juice on a brush and then wipe it on the arch.  Most spiders hate citrus, so this will direct their web building efforts to places where they can catch themselves a fly for dinner without catching you.

Enjoy the fruit of your labours

If you’ve made it this far down the list then give yourself a pat on the back.  It’s now time to get that beverage you very carefully placed in the fridge earlier.  Enjoy a lie down on a hammock or a lounge-about on an outdoor sofa in a warm but well shaded corner of your freshly finished yard.  As you relax with your cool, quenching drink, you can have a think about what a great job you’ve done and then have another think about how you’re going to enjoy this space with loved ones, family and friends in all the sunny months ahead.

Grand Final Day Barbecues: The Experts Weigh In

Footy finals season is well and truly here!  Do you know what you’re doing for Grand Final Day yet?  If you’re not one of the lucky ones to score a ticket to the game, there’s a good chance you might be celebrating with the traditional barbecue.

At the beginning of the month we published our guide to hosting a great AFL or NRL Grand Final barbie.  Now we follow up by asking a few food, lifestyle and sporting gurus to share their thoughts on how to enjoy the day.

The Italian Chef


Annalisa Ferrari of a.ferarri kitchen

Annalisa Ferrari is a chef and food writer.  Though now based in Sydney, she grew up in Florence, Tuscany, and lived in Paris and New York City before finding her way to Australia.  If you’re craving something a little more swish than party pies and tomato sauce, then listen up: she’s bringing the noise.

While her food ideas are a far cry from the traditional fare at a Grand Final barbie, the sentiments behind them will be familiar.  We agree with her 100% that great food shouldn’t mean being stuck in the kitchen instead of enjoying the game: “If you have a great sporting event to host and you want to have fun and be part of the party you want to create dishes that need little work, time and attention while the game is on and your guests are over.  It’s much more fun to be in the party rather than cooking it!”


As a native of Italy, Annalisa is somewhat more familiar with the rounder balled version of football.  Her food ideas, though, could work just as well for an AFL or NRL game: “Last time I catered a world cup soccer event we had a pasta al forno (pasta bake) with tomato, pork&fennel sausages, herbs, parmigiano, ricotta and a sprinkle of pine nuts. This item can be put together in advance and put in the oven 30 minutes before you want to eat it, that’s it!”


“In addition, we had a huge ratatouille tart, this can also be prepared in advance.  All you have to do is stick it in the oven when you put the pasta in.”


“Then to wow them all, affogati (ice cream with espresso) for dessert”


“There you have it: a delicious, easy grand final feast!”

We then asked Annalisa a few questions:

What are your favourite food ideas for a Grand Final day barbecue?

“So if I had to choose a menu that has to be done in part on the bbq I would get a whole rib eye fillet, cover it with fresh herbs and cook it 5 minutes per side. Let it rest (for 20 minutes) then carve thinly and serve with roasted shallots.”

image001 (2)“While you are resting the meat you can put thick slices of eggplant , zucchini and peppers, covered in sumac, oregano salt and pepper on the BBQ and grill. When these are ready drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a splash of lemon and serve with Mozzarella as a side to the  the meat.”

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“In addition this can be accompanied by a pasta with pesto, fresh tomatoes, olives and ricotta  (that can be made in advance).”

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“I finish it all off with Ice cream affogato’s and perhaps a salame dolce ( a chocolate log with nuts, coconut flakes, biscuit and dried fruit.”

What do you recommend in the way of drinks for the day?

“For drinks you could have some mimosas to start  (champagne and  fresh orange juice) or another great drink is a sprits (Aperol, soda water and a slice of orange) This is a great low alcohol drink to kick off the day!”

What’s the best time for Grand Final day celebrations to start?  Grand Final breakfast, yea or nay?

“Any time of day is a great time for a grand final celebration: it’s the final! What more of an excuse do you need to get the crew together have fun eat and drink and possibly watch your team kick the winning goal?”

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen happen at a Grand Final day barbecue?

“For the World Cup my Italian friends ended up playing in the garden with a pink Barbie ball, pretending to be on the national team. Their serious actions executed with the Barbie ball where priceless!  When sport is a passion, any ball will do, so long as you get the chance to kick and celebrate.”

What should the host provide at a Grand Final day barbecue, and what should guests bring?

“When I host a party I like to do most of the cooking, but If I ask guests to bring something it’s salad, bread, crackers for cheese, beer and wine. If I have a friend who loves to make a special dessert then I let that friend go ahead and bring it.  There are never too many treats!”

What’s the worst thing anyone can say or do at a Grand Final day barbecue?

“Not having the sportsmanship to let people cheer for their team. There is nothing like a bad loser! Sport is a game, passion and love.  Everyone in it should be treated with respect and celebrated no matter what the results of the game are.”

The Food and Travel Writers

Amanda and Shayne Quayle

Amanda Quayle and Shane Schipper of Graze the Earth

Shane Schipper is the head chef for Cirque de Solel’s show Kooza, and an enormous NRL fan.  Amanda is a marketing and events professional with a passion for food and travel.  Together they write about their circus adventures around the world on their blog “Graze the Earth”.

What are your favourite food ideas for a Grand Final day barbecue?

“Slow roasted lamb shoulder and beer can chicken on the BBQ. This way we can watch the game and chat to our friends. We marinate the lamb a day before in garlic, chilli, basil and olive oil.For the beer can chicken we rub it with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Empty half the beer (husband to consume) and put in the can three lemon wedges, tspn garlic, tspn chicken salt and pinch of oregano.”

“Can’t go wrong with potato bake! This has become such a huge hit at our BBQ’s that we have to make two trays of it. We only make one salad, experience shows the meat and potato bake go first. Rocket, grilled asparagus, toasted pine nuts, roasted tomatoes and shavings of Parmesan.”

What do you recommend in the way of drinks for the day?

“Drinks on grand final day are usually beers and wine. We provide soft drinks and water with raspberries and mint.”

What’s the best time for Grand Final day celebrations to start? Grand Final breakfast, yea or nay?

“Nay to breakfast! To much prep and not enough time. We have friends arrive from 2pm that way we can chat and eat before the pre-match coverage starts.”

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen happen at a Grand Final day barbecue?

“A girlfriend of ours was backing the opposite team to us. She disappeared into our kitchen and hijacked our dessert by handing out cupcakes with blue glitter frosting to bribe everyone to support her team!”

What should the host provide at a Grand Final day barbecue, and what should guests bring?

“A good host should provide the food for the BBQ, non alcoholic drinks and eskys or buckets of ice to keep guests drinks cold. Guest can bring their alcoholic drinks of choice.”

What’s the worst thing anyone can say or do at a Grand Final day barbecue?

“Offend other guests who are supporting the opposite team. Yelling at them does not help, they’re not playing the game! Sport brings out passion in people but it can also make them a little irrational. Remember to keep your cool and have a good time.”

The Barbecue Fanatic


Chris Girvan-Brown of Urban Griller

The phrase “avid barbecue fiend” doesn’t seem to appear in any dictionary I own, but if you find it in yours, what probably follows afterwards is a description of Chris Girvan-Brown.  Chris is the founding president of the Australian BBQ Association (ABBQA) and is head BBQ chef of the Urban Griller BBQ Cooking School and Catering Company in Western Australia.  He also appears on barbecue cooking segments on local radio, and has been operating BBQ cooking schools for 14 years.

What are your favourite food ideas for a Grand Final day barbecue?

“You need good finger food, nothing too complex, little boys are great grilled in the BBQ, wrap them in bacon if you want to go upmarket, but just grilling them is enough! Sprinkle some BBQ rub on chunks of corn, Frenched lamb chops are great, they come with their own handle, just hit them with salt and pepper and grill them off, serve with a herby mayonnaise.”

What do you recommend in the way of drinks for the day?

“Mostly the drinks will look after themselves as people bring what they want, have plenty of clean glasses and bottle openers. I would make sure to have some soda and lemon slices. Watch that your bins don’t fill up with empties!”

What’s the best time for Grand Final day celebrations to start?  Grand Final breakfast, yea or nay?

“I think an early start is good, but it’s a long day if you have a Grand Final Breakfast, make sure it’s a hearty affair, there is a long way to go!”

What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen happen at a Grand Final day barbecue?

“Not really funny at the time, but I’ve seen a serious BBQ fat fire from the host being distracted by a crucial goal and never quite getting back to the job at hand! Tragic, but we did laugh after a bit of hose work!

What should the host provide at a Grand Final day barbecue, and what should guests bring?

“It’s a no-brainer: the Host provides the meat, ice and backup beer, the guests bring beer, salads and nibbles.”

What’s the worst thing anyone can say or do at a Grand Final day barbecue?

” ‘Can someone move that car, I need to go home.’ it’s the beginning of the end!”

“Rule No 38 of good BBQ:  Make sure your “best mate” doesn’t have to move his car to let out some wimp who wants to go home too early.”