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Perfecting Camp Oven Roasted Lamb with Native Herbs

Perfecting Camp Oven Roasted Lamb with Native Herbs

Australian Bush Cooking: Perfecting the Art of Camp Oven Roasted Lamb with Native Herbs and Vegetables

The traditions of **Australian bush cooking** are steeped in a rich history that embodies the spirit and essence of the country's vast landscapes. Among these traditions, camp oven roasted lamb holds a special place, combining the flavours of native herbs and vegetables to create a delectable and quintessentially Australian dish. This article delves into the history of camp oven roasted lamb, explores its origins, and highlights the ingredients that make it unique.

The History Behind Camp Oven Roasted Lamb

Camp oven cooking in Australia dates back to the early European settlers and gold prospectors of the 19th century. These pioneers needed portable, durable cooking equipment that could withstand the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. Enter the camp oven – a versatile cast iron pot that could be used over an open fire or buried in hot coals to cook stews, breads, and roasts. **Lamb** was introduced to Australia by European settlers, and it quickly became a staple of rural diets due to its availability and the suitability of Australia's climate for sheep farming. Over time, the settlers' cooking techniques merged with Australian practices. This fusion led to the incorporation of native herbs and vegetables, which added distinct and aromatic flavours to the lamb, making camp oven roasted lamb a celebrated dish in Australian bush cooking.

The Essence of Native Ingredients

One of the key elements that set **camp oven roasted lamb** apart is the use of native herbs and vegetables. Australians have long used native plants for culinary and medicinal purposes. When these traditional ingredients are used in contemporary bush cooking, they provide a unique and authentic flavour profile that cannot be replicated by conventional herbs and spices. Some popular native ingredients include:
  • Saltbush: This hardy plant thrives in the arid outback and its leaves have a slightly salty, earthy taste that complements lamb perfectly.
  • Wattleseed: With a nutty and coffee-like flavour, wattleseed adds a rich depth to roasted dishes.
  • Rosella: Known for its tart and tangy taste, this native hibiscus adds a vibrant touch to sauces and marinades.
  • Lemon Myrtle: This aromatic herb imparts a refreshing lemony fragrance and flavour that pairs exceptionally well with roasted meat.

The Art of Bush Cooking

Perfecting the art of bush cooking is not just about the ingredients; it's about the method and the environment. Cooking in a camp oven requires patience and a deep understanding of the heat sources, whether it's an open flame or hot coals from a fire. The sealed environment of a camp oven ensures that the meat retains its moisture and absorbs the flavours of the native herbs and vegetables. To achieve the best results, one must be adept at managing the fire, knowing when to add or remove coals to maintain a consistent cooking temperature. The rustic nature of this method adds to the charm and authenticity, making the process of cooking just as enjoyable as the meal itself.

Preserving Tradition and Creating Memories

Camp oven roasted lamb with native herbs and vegetables is more than just a meal; it is a tradition that connects us to Australia's history, its people, and its unique flora. Whether enjoyed around a campfire in the outback or at a family gathering at home, this dish celebrates the ingenuity and resilience of those who have lived and thrived in Australia's rugged landscapes. As we continue to honour and share these culinary traditions, camp oven roasted lamb becomes a timeless symbol of Australian bush cooking, creating lasting memories and paying tribute to the diverse and rich heritage of this beautiful land.

Perfecting Camp Oven Roasted Lamb with Native Herbs

Embarking on an off-road adventure doesn't mean you have to compromise on a gourmet dining experience. With the right ingredients and a camp oven, you can prepare a mouth-watering roasted lamb infused with aromatic native herbs. This recipe combines traditional campfire cooking with the unique flavours of Australia's herbs, delivering a hearty and memorable meal.


  • 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs leg of lamb or shoulder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (60 ml / 2 fl oz)
  • 1 tbsp lemon myrtle (10 g / 0.35 oz), finely chopped
  • 2 tsp mountain pepper (4 g / 0.14 oz), crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp saltbush (10 g / 0.35 oz), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp wattleseed (2 g / 0.07 oz)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (5 g / 0.18 oz)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (2 g / 0.07 oz)
  • 500 g / 1.1 lbs potatoes, quartered
  • 300 g / 0.66 lbs carrots, cut into chunks
  • 300 g / 0.66 lbs parsnips, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, quartered


Step 1: Preparing the Marinade
  1. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, garlic, saltbush, wattleseed, sea salt, and black pepper.
  2. Mix thoroughly until a uniform paste forms.
Step 2: Marinating the Lamb
  1. Place the lamb in a large, shallow dish.
  2. Rub the marinade all over the lamb, ensuring it is evenly coated.
  3. Cover the dish with cling film or foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavours to penetrate the meat.


Step 3: Preparing the Camp Oven
  1. Light a campfire and allow it to burn until you have a good bed of hot coals.
  2. Place the camp oven on the coals to preheat.
  3. If using a tripod, hang the camp oven over the fire so it heats evenly.
Step 4: Roasting the Lamb
  1. Once the camp oven is hot, carefully remove it from the fire.
  2. Place the marinated lamb into the camp oven, along with the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions.
  3. Close the lid and position the camp oven back on the coals.
  4. Add some hot coals on top of the lid to create an oven effect.
  5. Roast the lamb for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, turning the vegetables halfway through, or until the meat is tender and cooked to your desired doneness.
Step 5: Resting and Serving
  1. Remove the camp oven from the fire and carefully take out the lamb.
  2. Let the lamb rest for about 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
  3. Carve the lamb into slices and serve with the roasted vegetables.

Tips for Camp Oven Cooking

  • Maintain Consistent Heat: Regularly check and adjust the coals to maintain a steady cooking temperature.
  • Monitor the Lamb: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, aiming for 60°C / 140°F for medium-rare or 70°C / 160°F for medium.
  • Vegetable Variations: Feel free to include other vegetables such as sweet potatoes,
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