When first arriving on Hamilton Island I was a little surprised at how developed it is. Don’t get me wrong as it’s no Gold Coast or Mooloolaba, it’s just a little more than the one or two resorts I was expecting to see. For a relatively small island a decent chunk of it is virtually undeveloped; your typical Aussie landscape that just happens to have a Whitsunday Islands address.
In amongst the amalgam of natural beauty and a fully-functioning village is a hard-to-miss marina. A marina bobbing with tinnies worth a few dollars and a virtual community of island residents and holiday blow-ins that want their own piece of this edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
With all the free time I had whilst lapping it up at qualia, Hamilton Islands’ top shelf property, I couldn’t help but zip around in the islands main mode of transport (a golf buggy) and suss out the surroundings.
The Marina and its village is the islands commercial heart and without a doubt the architectural Yacht Club is the gateway if you’re lucky enough to arrive by boat. What an entrance. The structure has an organic appearance; as if some elegant marine creature has slipped out of the clear waters and decided to sun itself at the marina entrance.
Within its curved walls and beneath its copper roof lay the usual club-style facilities plus the pretty swanky Bommie Restaurant; somewhere I wish I had time to eat at. This isn’t the only place to eat in town, however.
Across the marina along the village’s main drag is a commercial strip offering the basics of eating and shopping. A general store for everyday items, a tavern, souvenir shops, real estate, ice creamery and deli, even a bakery.
Over in the Resort Centre, just out of the main village, is the newly-opened coca chu. Leaving New York behind, Aussie chef Adam Woodfield has taken the helm at this modern Southeast Asian restaurant. Much less frantic than the West Village, I’m sure.
Dinner starts with a few little nibbles. Betel leaves (6.5) (grown by the local school kids) topped with either lobster or chicken were deliciously juicy and punchy; also some oozing son in law eggs (15) with green mango & yellow bean sauce and some steamed pork & prawn dumplings (18) with chinkiang vinegar.
Some of the more substantial dishes consisted of a beautiful salad of chicken & crab (25), braised silken tofu (not shown) and soft shell crab (32) with green papaya salad. Typically bold flavours that you’d expect from Southeast Asian food.
One of my favourites was the crispy whole stripy perch (40), baring its teeth as we tore ribbons of tender white meat from its curved frame. Poor little fellow.
Neighbouring Dent Island is a very short boat ride away and is home to Australia’s only championship golf course on its own island. I mean, just look at that view! Golf enthusiasts would wet themselves on the par 17, 18 hole course and the closest we got to the game was from a buggy whilst touring the back 9.
Down at the Clubhouse, an area I’m a little more interested in, we settled in with chilled white wine and a spectacular view over the turquoise waters and surrounding islands. I could easily get used to this kind of lifestyle. Sydney, you’re the furthest thing from my mind right now.
The Clubhouse Restaurant menu could be described as being fancy pub food, featuring seasonal and local ingredients that are fresh and pretty damn tasty. Plump and juicy seared scallops nestle into a smear of pureed carrot, tiny cubes of cider apples and pancetta dust. I was in love with my bbq prawns aligned on a salsa of fennel, spiced red pepper, chorizo and zucchini. It wasn’t mine, but the pile of battered fish & chips looked pretty good as well.
The entree bruscetta of roasted mushrooms, pureed mushroom, Persian fetta and truffle oil looked more like a main size and I couldn’t help but be a little food envious. Until of course my quail arrived. Cooked three different ways, it came crumbed, rolled and confited with celeriac puree and pickled beetroot. I found the little drumsticks a tad dry and without a doubt the crumbed nugget of quail was the shining star of the plate.
Even if you’re not a golfer, which I am not, a lunch at the Clubhouse is a good option if activity options start to dwindle when staying on Hamilton Island.
hnf travelled & ate courtesy of Hamilton Island