Together with my Husband and youngest son I spent this past weekend relaxing and cooking by the MacDonald River northwest of Sydney. We stayed at “Del Rio” in the picturesque riverside village of Wisemans Ferry. Locally this area is referred to as “The Forgotten Valley”. I loved this scenic part of Sydney and I really don’t think I will be forgetting about it at all.

 

We gave our trusty camper trailer a break this trip and decided to take a well earned rest by staying at the fun filled “Del Rio” caravan and camping resort. We had hoped to book a luxury cabin for some quality rest and recreation. Our ideal weekend was to be overlooking the river on a nice cosy deck, wine in hand doing not much at all. Sadly when we went to book we discovered all the first class cabins were gone so we had to make do in economy. We still had a deck but not overlooking the beautiful river.

cocktail hour  house boat

I am a sticker for self catering but you really don’t want to spend your weekend working in the kitchen producing complicated meals when you are meant to be relaxing. I decided on a plan for maximum impact, with minimum effort!

I chose to organise our meals during the week prior. It only took a few hours over a couple of evenings. I penned a flexible menu plan then skipped to the shops to collect anything I didn’t already have at home. The next evening where possible, I prepped everything in advance, freezing what I could. Frozen vacuum sealed meat and fish make great ice bricks for the esky with no messy leaks or wasted space.

As a result of my strategically planned preparation I had chicken sliced ready for a stir fry, salmon ready for the frying pan, lamb cutlets were trimmed and cut ready to be stuffed with halloumi. Fresh parmesan was grated into a container. I even packed portions of homemade pesto, curry paste and pizza dough! Owning a vacuum sealer enabled me to package ready peeled potatoes and garlic cloves. I have kept vac sealed peeled potatos in the fridge for a week at home!

vac sealing potatoes

The prepared ingredients were placed into the fridge or freezer on Tuesday evening. I arranged some vegetables and deli items in separate containers ready to grab. To save searching I dedicated a shelf in my fridge and freezer to my going away ingredients. On Thursday after work it was a quick transfer of my gourmet ingredients to the esky and we were off! Everything was transfered into the cabin fridge on arrival. My salmon and lamb chop icebricks worked a treat. I had not frozen my sliced chicken breast so it was an easy red curry chicken with microwaved rice for dinner that night.

My organisation ensured no expensive trips to smaller shops on location saving time and money. Another great tip is to take one ingredient to serve a few purposes. I used haloumi cheese in three dishes. Spring onions are handy as onions, a salad ingredient or a garnish. Baby spinach is great raw in a salad or cooked in any meal.

breakfast

We had a great weekend and ate well without being tied to the budget cabin kitchenette or forking out for expensive restaurant style meals. I whipped up delicious café style breakfasts and dinners that made us all happy not to be eating at the bistro. I will definitely be repeating the halloumi stuffed lamb cutlets in sweet chilli salsa at home again soon, they were easy and delicious. Keep your eye out for the recipe coming soon!

halloumi stuffed lamb  frying pan focaccia  

The first lunch we enjoyed pesto salami pasta with parmesan focaccia The focaccia was cooked in a frying pan as the cabin did not have an oven. My husband loved it, for that reason I ended up cooking a second loaf. It was easy to achieve with pre made dough. Our other quick lunch was an antipasto platter devoured over a game of scrabble. Not a boring sandwich in sight!

pasto pasta  antipasto platter 

Del Rio is a camping and caravan resort, great for families, nature lovers or water sport enthusiasts offering plenty of fun entertainment on site! This area is surrounded by beautiful drives, walks and waterways. Via boat it’s an easy cruise to Brooklyn or the Hawkesbury River. Hop in your car and take a scenic drive to Gosford of even the Hunter Valley. We drove to St Albans, a very pretty drive even in the pouring rain we had that day.

gokarting  scrabble

Wisemans ferry is part of the Hawkesbury harvest food trail. I can highly recommend a trip to Fords Farm or Watson’s farm during the mandarin season to pick your own mandarins fresh from the tree. It’s great fun and teaches your children where their food comes from! We experienced mandarin picking here a few years ago and are keen to go and pick again. Mandarin season starts around May.

mandarin picking  mandarin tree

On our way home through Glenorie and Maroota we noticed that there were many farm gate stalls selling fresh free range eggs and seasonal produce. Unfortunately we only stopped for coffee as we had to meet some commitments at home. I did get to stop by the bakery at Glenorie which was bustling with trade on this Sunday morning. We enjoyed a very nice chunky meat pie which held together well, important for in car dining. The coffee wasn’t bad either!

glenorie coffee

Wisemans Ferry seems to be the forgotten Valley of outer Sydney but that’s also what I loved about this place. No great commercial enterprises spoiling the view or big crowds heading in your direction. I also loved that it has remained unspoilt with its original character and charm. Wisemans Ferry is the only place left like this left in Sydney and I hope it never changes! Take  a drive and see for yourself. Let me know what suprises you find along the way!

 

Watkins Farm Hawkesbury Harvest http://www.hawkesburyharvest.com.au/member.asp?id=85

Fords Farm Hawkesbury Harvest http://www.hawkesburyharvest.com.au/member.asp?id=129

Del Rio Resort http://delrioresort.com.au/