My name is Jim Crawford. I started my working life in a mustering camp on a cattle station in the Territory after I left school in ’73, and scored a stint as the camp cook, after our real cook “disappeared”. This got me started on what has become a lifelong enjoyment of camp cooking.
After buying my first truck in 1975, (a sure-fire-get-rich-quick scheme) I spent around 40 years driving semis, road-trains and low loaders all over Australia, mainly running into the northern half of the country…the “Top-End”.
Due to the remoteness of the areas I worked plus the expense of buying all my meals when I was on a long trip, I usually cooked for myself on the side of the road. This saved a fair bit of time and money and allowed me to stop wherever I was, and still get fed. You’re on the clock as a Truck driver, so I needed to have my meal quick so that I could get moving again, this required me to keep my cooking gear and tucker well organised.
In the late 70’s my tucker box consisted of an ex-army grenade case (that I still have somewhere) which sat snugly on the passenger side floor of my old 7 series Dodge. There’s lots of time to think while driving trucks and over time I became inspired to make improvements to my set up, to make it more convenient and especially to find a way to stop the annoying, and somewhat destructive rattles of the gas burner and cooking gear. I wanted a way to conveniently store everything I needed to prepare, cook, serve and clean up after my meals.
Over the years I built about a dozen different versions of a portable kitchen set up, at first out of plywood and then out of steel. I eventually mounted the unit outside of my truck allowing me the convenience to pull up anywhere and prepare and cook my meals. With this set up, no longer was there a need to use truck stops for meals and my food bills were drastically reduced as a consequence.
The old tucker box slowly evolved into today’s Compact and Convenient Travelling Camp Kitchen – that doesn’t rattle!
Another love of mine is to travel and spend time outdoors camping. Whenever I have the spare time to do this I’d always take along my trusty camp kitchen. I have it mounted in the back of my 4WD or on occasion I simply sit it in the back of my Ute. It is my go to compact kitchen that allowed me the convenience to go anywhere, anytime and have all I needed to prepare, cook, serve and clean up after meals.
All I need in addition to the kitchen is to slip an esky or fridge on the side together with a container of drinking water and a gas bottle for the stove. Everything else is snugly tucked away in the Camp Kitchen.
Today the kitchen is engineered from aluminium and finished in an attractive and durable powder coat, or stainless steel Its dust and water resistant and lined with carpet so rattles are muffled to non-existent.
Our Team at Top End Campgear would not be complete with out mentioning my long suffering partner Janet who keeps an eye on all of us! She’s invaluable in test driving the kitchen prototypes, adding suggestions for improvements, and making sure the numbers stack up!
After more than 40 years driving trucks I’ve now given up the road and have devoted my time to making the Top End Camp Kitchen the best it can be so other passionate campers and travelling cooks can enjoy the convenience it offers.
My hope is that everyone who owns one of these kitchens gets the same enjoyment from using their’s as we do from ours.