The rise of the choofer – a cooker made out of an old gas bottle – has been one of the most noticeable trends on the Big Lap in recent years.
An increasing number of grey nomads are turning to these ingenious devices as a way of cooking up an al fresco storm, and to keep warm on some of those chilly Outback evenings. Using a choofer ensures the ‘campfire’ remains contained and it is a very efficient way of ‘campfire’ cooking.
There is no shortage of ‘handy’ travellers who have had a crack at designing and making their own choofer, and so there are a lot of variations on the ‘re-purposed old gas cylinder’ theme. The basic concept remains the same though, and most share similar features.
The old gas cylinder will have a door added to allow more fuel to be added, and to help control temperature. The top of the cylinder will be cut off, and the upper section may be used as a lid. Other than that, all manner of holes, racks, and handles might be added, enabling cooking with everything from a camp oven and frying pan to a wok. And the results have sent delicious aromas wafting around campsites and camping areas around the country, and sparked up numerous conversations and led to endless modifications and improvements.
If you keep your eyes peeled on the road you’ll find choofers with legs, covers and even temperature gauges. It’s an exciting and evolving world. Of course, gas cylinders and flames aren’t normally a good mix, so travellers creating their own choofer masterpiece need to be very, very careful that no traces of gas are left before they start work.
For those not keen to give it a crack, some enterprising travel enthusiasts are lovingly producing some excellent accessoriess. Foremost among them is the Kingaroy Choofer, which was the brainchild of Bill and Patty Winters from Kingaroy in Queensland. After clocking up thousands of kilometres on the road, the couple decided they wanted an easy-to-store, lightweight camp oven cooker to take with them … and the rest, as they say, is history.
After countless hours poring over designs, and cutting, hammering and riveting in their shed, the Kingaroy Choofer range is expansive … and endlessly expanding. They are made using 4.5kg, 9kg, and 14kg gas bottles, and even come in variety of colours. The couple say that the choofers can fit neatly into a milk crate for easy packing and transportation, and the camp oven can be stored inside the Choofer.