Churrasco is an all-you- can-eat Brazilian BBQ restaurant hidden in the heart of Coogee. To a carnivourous male backpacker on the tail end of a three-month, finance-induced noodle bender, merely speaking the words ‘Brazilian BBQ’ and ‘all- you-can-eat’ in one sentence was almost too much to bare.

With iron levels at an all time low and the knowledge that nothing in this world would ever be right again if I didn’t act fast, I made contact with other malnourished souls to organise a pilgrimage to this mythical meat mecca.

On the day of our reckoning I was abrim with anticipation but also shades of pity… not for the livestock put to the slaughter to satisfy my culinary desires, but for my internal organs for the pure excess I was about to unleash upon them.

Decending down Coogee Bay Road, I smelt Churrasco well before it was in sight. Not like the way you smell Rotorua in New Zealand before you actually get there. Way better. The distinctive aroma of a fresh BBQ over a winter night had me as excited as an ADHD kid with a can of RedBull.

The meat is slowly roasted, on long skewers, over a pit of flaming coals. This type of cooking is referred to as ‘Gaucho Style’, which originated in southern Brazil and was developed by cowboys.

Flames leapt around row after row of rotating meats as we entered and rubbernecked our way to our table.

It’s fair to say at this stage there are probably two types of patrons that ‘dine’ at Churrasco: those looking for a civilised dining experience with a regional culinary twist; and the ‘all-you-can-eat crowd’, hell bent on getting their $30 worth of value and disgusting their partners with gluttony.

The friendly waitress knew our caper from the outset and proceeded to give us the lowdown on how things were to be done. A small bi-coloured wooden block in the centre of the table was to be the key to our excess. Turn the green end to the sky and food would be delivered to our table, flip it over and service would stop. Simple.

Before long the who’s who of the meat world started to show up before us – BBQ rump and fillet steak, spicy BBQ chicken, lamb, authentic Chorizo sausage and grilled cheese, all top quality and delivered fresh and sizzling to our plates. The popularity of this busy establishment ensured there was a buzzing, fun atmosphere, which was emphasised by the flames leaping from the open kitchen.

The $30 cost included small servings of rice, roasted pumpkin and various condiments which complemented the meatfest nicely. Vegetarians are also catered for with a range of fresh salads… but then only an idiot would take a vegetarian to a BBQ restaurant.

Drinks are a bit on the pricey side, with beers at $6. Luckily none of our group had the bodily capacity for more than one drink!

After feeding our faces for 90 minutes, the four malnourished backpackers left the place fully fattened like a bunch of cowboys farting around a campfire.

July 24th, 2007

While trying to drive across the Simpson Desert, LIZZIE JOYCE and her partner were forced to hitch a ride with some dodgy truckers.

Early one January morning my boyfriend Dan and I set off on our trip across three states, covering 3,000 miles on what would turn out to be the best trip I have ever done, not to mention the most dangerous. We were attempting to cross the Simpson Desert on our way to Alice Springs from Sydney. We were fully prepared and set off in our 4WD loaded with equipment, including 60 litres of water, a double swag, a laser beam,
and an Epirb signal.

After 10 hours of driving, watching the landscape turn from highways and tall buildings to red earth and eternal horizons we glided past an old mining town called Cobar, stopped for a wee and drove on through, thankful that this ‘Hicksville’ town was not our destination. But while driving at an average speed of 120km per hour, the trusty car (which I was assured had “just had a full service and was made for driving across such terrain”) was disintegrating and the entire wheel was about to fall off.

Ugly mothertruckers

Suddenly, the brakes started to fail and smoke started pouring out the front passenger tyre. We were 120km from the last town and with at least 100km to the next, Dan decided we should drive on (without brakes) and see if we could make it to our destination. Luckily it didn’t last long anyway as the car stopped in defiance and we were forced to pull off the road in the middle of nowhere. Within minutes two semi-trailers driving in convoy by brothers, pulled up to offer us help and I’ve never been so glad to see two spectacularly ugly truckers before in my life. Freaky Brother One then began to undress me, with his eyes, almost frothing at the mouth at coming in such close proximity to someone of the opposite sex, while Freaky Brother Two was pretending to be a mechanic and baffling Dan with his bullshit. It was turning into Wolf Creek.

Nothing could be done with the car, and we had no choice but to accept a lift from Freaky Brother One to the nearest roadhouse 13km up the road. But then he said there wouldn’t be enough room in the cab so Dan should travel with his brother and I should hop into his cab by myself. By this point I was close to hysteria and there was no way I would be getting in that lorry by myself.

So we both hopped in with Brother Number Two. Dan settled in the middle of the very spacious cab which had enough room to house a small Albanian family! Relieved to be on our way to a phone box and in relative safety, (even if we were in being driven by an axe wielding maniac I had enough faith that Dan could knock him out if it came to it) I thought it would be plain sailing from here. After a couple of minutes on the road Brother Number One starts becoming agitated – he thinks he has lost his keys as he can’t use the radio to contact his brother. He pulls into the side of the road and asks me to hop out to see if he had left them in the door lock. This forced me into ungraceful acrobatic maneuvers in order to hang myself out the door and reach round to grab the keys, with freaky brother one more than enjoying the view of my ass in the air. The keys were there, so off we set again in stilted silence.

Roadhouse blues

Finally we caught sight of the roadhouse and saw our escape was only minutes away and we made a sharp exit from the freaky brothers. Good riddance!

The roadhouse turned out to be a petrol pump and a shop that was about to close. They had a phone though and we arranged for a tow truck to pick us up and take us back to the nearest town… Cobar (the Hicksville town we drove through scorning) where we would have to wait for the next three days for the car to be repaired. How ironic that the town we were laughing at turned out to be our refuge.

So we skipped the Simpson Desert and took another route to Alice Springs where we arrived two weeks later with the biggest smiles and the best memories!

Send us a travel tale (preferably about Oz) and if it’s published you’ll win a $300 travel voucher redeemable on Oz Experience Passes and ATA NT camping trips ( Email your tales (700 words max), with a picture of yourself, to