Malcolm Douglas talks Engel


By Soo-Li Yong

Aussie blokes know Engel means business when it comes to portable fridge-freezers. When you’re roughing it in the middle of nowhere, Engel provides comfort away from home. It’s range of chest and upright fridge-freezers help to keep your beer cold and snags frozen. All in one convenient set up.Malcolm Douglas is one bloke who gets Engel. Douglas has been living in the Top End for forty years. He bought his first Engel in the early ‘70s. Since then, he’s bush-bashed his way around Australia more than thirty times with his Engel in tow. “I sent it to them [Engel] as a joke, it was still going strong,” Douglas says. “They’re made for rugged four-wheel driving, they’re not a weekend outfit.”

Engel have been making portable fridges for more than 40 years. They’re so tough, buyers have testified their tucker boxes still perform even after a car rollover! Since 1962, more than three million Engel Portable Fridge-Freezers have been manufactured in Japan and sold worldwide. From Australia to Africa, Europe to the U.S., happy campers, truckies, hunters and the special armed forces have all enjoyed Engel’s trademark multi-purpose usage. Engel’s unique Sawafuji Swing Motor is the only compressor in the world powerful enough to use one moving part. Engel’s high-tech feature means there’s no need for bearings, cranks or con-rods. Less moving parts means less chance of failure. Engel’s solid steel casing also thrives in Australia’s harshest conditions and the plastic won’t buckle or warp in the sun. Since Douglas’ first Engel, he’s shot over 50 wildlife docos and films. He swears he’ll never leave home in Broome without best mate Boondi 3, his new Engel fridge and a generator or small solar panel for back-up. “The new Engels now are so multi-efficient, they don’t draw much power. So, even if you forget to turn it off at night it doesn’t drain your battery.” The latest model, the tri-voltage “F” series has the advantage of 12 volt, 24 volt and 240 volt operation built into the unit as well as automatic AC/DC changeover.

Also new to the market is the Engel Eclipse (38 litre). It’s perfect for impulse road trips with the missus or general use for weekend BBQs when you don’t need the legendary strong steel casing. The Eclipse includes the reliable Sawafuji Swing Motor and has soft, rounded edges to protect car and boat interiors. Its lightweight body will also make the task of moving a cinch. The banks of the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley are Douglas’s favourite place to lay down his swag. “The shallow water at the mouth of the Fitzroy River is an excellent fishing spot. It can be reached by anyone in a little tinnie.” Douglas says he loves to unwind, using overhead Diawa reels and RMG lures to fish for barramundi. “Well, barra is such a nice eating fish,” Douglas says. “I either just wrap it in foil and put it in the coals or BBQ it. But, if I have a poor eating fish I prefer to prepare it with coconut milk and tinned mangoes and tinned tomato and stuff it with onions.”

When Douglas isn’t catching and cooking, he’s whipping up his famous Johnny Cake dish on the hot coals of a big camp oven or tucking into some tasty Kimberley rib-bones. “I taught myself [to cook] from sheer necessity and experience.” Douglas says he’s even top chef for wife Valerie at home. “Well, I do all the cooking myself, she’s rapt.”

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