The tongs were at the ready, and the smell of smoke was thick in the air, as Burnett Heads heated up for Bundaberg BBQ Battle’s first stand-alone competition.
Before the smoke settled, teams of meat-loving men, women, and families were elbow deep in roasting a range of succulent meats that left a smell drifting across Jack Norgate Oval, tantalising onlookers’ tastebuds.
But it wasn’t just outstanding cooking that was on display, as barbecues of all shapes and sizes had people fascinated in one of the biggest competitions of its type in the country.
It’s a family affair for the Where There’s Smoke There’s Dinner team, as Matthew Vass, wife Lyn and sons Sam and Nigel had their barbecue kitted out in steampunk style.
Matthew said what started as an off-the-shelf Yoder Smoker soon was enhanced to one of the flashiest barbecues around, bespoke with dazzling chrome and brass fittings.
The ex-boilermaker not only improved the way his smoker performed by adding a water heater, but he was also able to make his barbecue, Steampunker Yoder, more unique by including a brass sundial and vintage fire extinguisher with everything restored to working condition.
He said the whole family enjoyed coming to the Bundaberg Region and it was the third time they had visited, with one of the trips being used for leisure earlier this year.
“We were one of the first teams in the national competition in Melbourne in 2014, right now there is close to 600 teams in Australia,” Matthew said.
“We like Bundaberg that’s for sure, we’ve come for the battle before, and we plan on staying on this time for another three to four days after the comp – it’s really good.”
Drawing in competitors from across Australia, organisers Paul and Bronwyn Durston were chuffed as they realised their dream of one day hosting the nation’s biggest barbecue challenge here in Bundaberg was a step closer.
“We have teams that are staying here another week before they go home, so they are spending a lot of money in the region,” Paul said.
“There are 36 teams here this weekend, and a really big crowd.
“Next year will be really massive as we are hoping for 100 teams.
“We really want to thank everyone that helped us out and got this event off the ground; the Burnett Heads community has been wonderful.”
Paul has barbecued all his life, but said he started to take it a little more seriously about seven years ago and had since helped draw meat lovers to the Bundaberg Region.
“I’m here as a competitor with the Bulldogs BBQ team and it would be nice to walk away with something.
“There are five rounds: beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken, lamb and brisket.”
The Bundaberg BBQ Battle 2021 overall champion was Signature Smoke
- Earlier report: 4BU Bundaberg BBQ Battle heats up