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Wild Duck 05-20-2013 03:27 AM

Italian oven out back Australia
New to the forum but not Wood Fired Ovens
My kids got me set up on the computer a few years ago but this is the first time on this forum so to speak.

I grew up in an area sort of central NSW Australia and built my first oven about 30 years ago, nothing like the ovens on this forum using modern methods and materials, it was an Italian style oven.

After the second would war a lot of Italian migrants settled in Australia and the peasants (farmers) settled out in the country and I grew up with a few of those families that had settled in my area mainly the second-generation blokes about my age born about late 1940ís to early 1950ís.

I used to go over to different Italian families for meals and a lot of them had these brick wood fired ovens in their sheds or out the back somewhere, they sure did cook up some mighty good tucker and I learned how to drink vino and grappa.

I suppose being a young fella I never took much notice of how they were built or how they worked but whatever those boys Mumís cooked in them it was something bloody good.
The main reason for having these ovens was for baking bread (lots of it) not like bread from the baker it was more crusty and chewy and a good flavor.

We did a lot of shooting and fishing back then we shot ducks, pigs, goats, roo, rabbits, quail and even bronze wing pigeon, did not matter what it was that we shot and cleaned and brought home their Mums and Dads would cook it up, not always in the wood oven but it tasted great a lot more herbs and garlic, my folks meals were a bit more plain back then.

Later in life when I finished shearing I was in the sheds for a few years (tough job) I spent a some time mustering sheep and droving cattle I spent a lot of time sleeping out bush and everything was cooked in a camp ovens stews, rabbit, and saltbush mutton (best lamb ever) and damper (bread).
I started thinking about those wood fired ovens that my Italian mates families had and I realized all the ovens were was a sort of big camp oven get em hot and start cooking.

So when I settled down with me misses I decided to build one of those wood ovens like my mates families had, I went to see old mate to get some clues on how to do it, he showed me the one he built for his misses 20 odd years before it was kinda rough but I got the idea.

There was an old tank stand out the back of our place, I used that to build the oven on put down some old corrugated iron boxed it up and poured some concrete made out of river gravel, river sand and cement then I built the oven on top.

The oven was made out of old red house bricks cut em in half with an old axe and sledge hammer there were no forms or tools used to get it round just did it by eye, didnít have a flue and the door way was sort of square used an old bit of angle iron as a lintel.

When it was all finished I cut down an old tank that had the bottom rusted out cut a door the same size as the oven then sat it over the oven and filled up the gap at the front with mortar then filled up the tank with dry river sand, put a couple of sheets of corrugated on the top to keep the rain out.

That oven lasted us until we sold the joint about 4 years ago and moved closer to town to retire.
Now I am thinking of building one of those new ones like on here with insulation and stuff.
Iíve been reading about the igloos on the newbieís survey by Lburou.

My kids have all grown up but I think they miss the good tucker that came out of that old oven,
I think that is why they got me onto this forum to get me motivated to build a new one that does not take so much heatin up.


cobblerdave 05-20-2013 03:57 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Gudday wood duck
I spent my teenage yrs in the nth west NSW. And like you said if you hunted it you ate it , bronze wing were always fattest after the wheat harvest.
Have you got yourself a set of the plans yet? Go to the store on the forum and put a free set of plans in you basket .....they will e-mail them to you . They also have free e books on cooking as well.
You done a bit of reading through the "treasures" they are some awe inspiring builds there. But a good working oven can be built by a mere mortal.
You hear his more than once insulate insulate insulate
Good building and post heaps of pics
Regards dave

Bacterium 05-20-2013 05:13 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Howdy wood duck.
I think it's not as easy to enable our kids to experience some of these great things we did but hey wood ovens surely have become a part of it for mine......and sounds sounds like it fits in with yours too.

Anyway welcome

Wild Duck 05-20-2013 05:22 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Thanks fellas,

I have built a helped build a few ovens over the years, seems to me that the main difference is the insulation and the flue.
Mind you those old ovens still worked well they did the job but not as well as these ovens you guys are building nowdays.

Dave, thanks for the clues about the plans there is not much difference to what I have built over the years accept for the flue and insulation and of course the way you fellas pretty them up. We built most of ours in sheds or out the back and out of site.


Wild Duck 05-20-2013 05:30 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Thanks Damon,

It is Wild Duck not wood duck but mind you I have eaten plenty of them over the years.
You are right the kids of today won't get to do some of the things that I have done that's for sure.


Bacterium 05-20-2013 05:43 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Sorry Wild's my fat fingers .......

Greenman 05-20-2013 05:50 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
What part of the country do you hail from WD? I have spent some time and have some heritage in NW Queensland.

Cheers ....... Steve :)

Wild Duck 05-20-2013 05:56 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia

A bit down south of you up there in Qld, I hail from central NSW


nissanneill 05-20-2013 06:46 AM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Hi Wild Duck and welcome aboard,


thanks for the clues about the plans there is not much difference to what I have built over the years accept for the flue and insulation and of course the way you fellas pretty them up.
Let's face it, the oven's don't have to be a work of art, just do the job and if they work well, all the better. You sound like you are retired and have time to use an oven often, so don't skimp on the insulation, put in heaps and you will get to use the heat from a single firing for several days with an good door fitted.
Read up on many of the ovens built and pictures taken, until you arrive at your ideal one then enjoy.



Wild Duck 05-20-2013 08:21 PM

Re: Italian oven out back Australia
Thanks Neil,

You know those ovens we built years ago they are still going but they do take a bit to get em hot, I suppose because there is so much thermal mass they do stay hot for a good while.
Some had sand under the floor and some had sand on top like the first one I built it must of had a ton on top, others they put some extra mortar over the dome it was all thermal mass I suppose but we did not know that at the time and new nothing about insulation.

You gotta remember these Italians made their ovens just like they did back in Italy out of whatever they had, thing is they all worked and the tucker was good.

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