Hamilton Island holiday, Day 1

This is the first of a series of 8 posts (the full list is at the end of the post).

Most of you have probably worked out by now that we went to Hamilton Island for our recent holiday. We were on Hamilton Island for a week, Wednesday to Wednesday, with Jac’s brother’s wedding on the Friday – family and friends all stayed on the island too. Jac and I flew from Perth to Brisbane, then Brisbane to Hamilton Island. Due to flight schedule changes beyond our control after we’d made the booking, we ended up with a five hour break between flights. Jac’s mum Pattycakes was on the same flight too, and we decided to grab breakfast together.

Breakfast at The Gunshop Cafe, West End
On the morning of our departure, I googled places to eat breaky in Brisbane. We were due to fly out from Perth late on Tuesday night and arrive in Brisbane early on Wednesday morning. I found the website of the Gunshop Cafe, an old gun shop that’s been converted into a cafe. Jac and I rather liked the look of the menu, which offered a little more than the usual bacon and egg fry-ups. Wearing our backpacks (carry-on luggage), we worked up a good appetite walking to the cafe from Brisbane Central. I was thirsty when we arrived, and ordered a sparkling apple juice.

Sparkling apple juice at The Gunshop Cafe

Pattycakes ordered the double smoked bacon with poached eggs, tomato and herbed hollandaise sauce served on turkish bread (AU$13.50). Initially, as she sawed through the thick slab of bread she thought it was a little too thick; but as she ate her way through the dish, her appreciation for the bread grew – it was a good accompaniment to the salty bacon and great for mopping up the hollandaise.

Double smoked bacon, poached eggs, tomato, herbed hollandaise on turkish bread

Jac picked out her dish from her first read of the menu back home in Perth – the vodka-cured ocean trout, spinach and poached eggs on sourdough bread, also served with herbed hollandaise (AU$17.50). Jac loves any sort of cured or smoked fish, she loves hollandaise sauce (eggs Benedict being one of her all-time favourite breakfast dishes), and sourdough is probably one of her favourite breads – this dish was made for her! She really enjoyed it. I think she especially loved the generous amount of hollandaise sauce poured over the top of the eggs and trout.

Vodka cured ocean trout, spinach, poached eggs on sourdough with herbed hollandaise

I’d also selected my dish the day before, sitting at my computer at home drooling over the menu. For me, this was pure joy and deliciousness: Canadian brioche french toast, bacon, caramelized banana and maple syrup ($15.50). Served as a stack of spectacular proportions, it looked even more amazing than I’d imagined – when this plate was presented to me I was gobsmacked in awe and delight! This is definitely not an “everyday” breakfast (I was on holiday – no lectures, please)!

Canadian brioche french toast, bacon, caramelized banana and maple syrup

The brioche French toast was thick and chunky. The bread had been soaked in egg for the perfect amount of time so it was beautifully soft and custardy in the middle. The fried egg coating on the outside of the toast crackled tantalisingly under my knife and fork as I carved myself big, greedy maple syrup-soaked mouthfuls, spearing slices of bacon rolled in maple syrup. The caramelised banana was soft and sweet and tasted unbelievably wonderful with the bacon and syrup. I wish more cafes and restaurants served caramelised / baked / deep-fried bananas! The next time I visit Brisbane, I’ll definitely be tempted to return to the Gunshop Cafe.

Cross-section of Brioche French toast - so chunky, so good

Long-time readers will remember that I’m not a great flyer – I always get a prescription for anti-nausea drugs and a little something to relax me and help me sleep through most of the flight. I was a little paranoid after breakfast – what if my full stomach decided to override the effects of my medication and embarrass me on the flight to the island?

In the end, I was worried for nothing. The worst thing about the second flight was the annoying kid sitting in front of us who asked questions in a LOUD, whiny high voice the entire time. “Is this the Kimberley? Are we at Hamilton Island? When will we get to Hamilton Island? Is this the Kimberley? Where is the island? (Looking out the window) Is that the island? Is that the Kimberley?”* Hello, parents! Ever thought of teaching your kid to show some consideration and keep his voice down in public / confined / shared spaces? (I had to edit that – my first version was, frankly, quite rude.) Anyway, the medication did its job, my stomach was fine, my temper grew decidedly short, but we arrived safely with no dramas.

Arrival at Hamilton Island
This was the first photograph I took upon arrival on Hamilton Island – of golf buggies in the airport carpark. Everyone gets around the island in golf buggies – there are cars and trucks on the island, but they’re mostly island maintenance or construction vehicles. It was quite overcast when we arrived – it rained earlier that day, and it would end up raining heavily that evening. Luckily, after that first day of rain, we enjoyed sunny days, with temperatures in the mid to high twenties (Celsius).

Golf buggies at the airport

We had use of a golf buggy as part of our accommodation, which was handy – buggy hire is around $70-80 a day. We were met at the airport by the valet service – our Customer Liaison Officer Gareth gave us a warm welcome and loaded our baggage on the back of his buggy. He drove to our apartment while we followed, Jac driving our golf buggy. When we arrived, we got unpacked and then got back in the buggy for a real drive around the island. I took photos of our apartment the next day – photographs coming up in the next post.

We went to see Jac’s brother B and fiancee (now wife :)) K at their accommodation, a big house with balcony views and a sparkling blue pool. Pattycakes, B and K’s two kids, other family members and a couple of friends all stayed at the house too. Jac and I had been given the option of staying there as well, but we decided to get our own accommodation – I can be sociable, but being a non-drinker I really need to be able to escape to my own space away from the partying. The rest of the wedding guests, other relatives and B and K’s friends, stayed in various places on the island – other holiday apartments, the hotel and the beach resort.

But let’s talk about food again – I was thrilled to see that K had bought Krispy Kreme doughnuts at Brisbane Airport – this was the box of Original Glazed (11 doughnuts pictured – not surprisingly, someone had already eaten one).

Original Glazed Krispy Kremes

There was also a box of assorted doughnuts – I love Krispy Kremes! I don’t usually like really sweet foods, but it’s their texture that I love – their soft chewyness. See the pink ones topped with coconut? There was some controversy with them – they were inspired by Arnotts Iced Vo-Vo biscuits and christened “Iced Dough-Vo” by Krispy Kreme – but now I see they’ve been renamed “Pink Iced Bobby Dazzler”. Heh. See these news articles on the issue:
Arnott’s takes on Krispy Kreme over Iced Vo-Vo clone
Arnott’s wins battle for Iced Vo-Vo

Assorted Krispy Kremes

I hadn’t seen these before – Rocky Road Krispy Kremes. They look pretty full-on! Apparently they’re available for a limited time only. Once again, I must say: “Krispy Kreme, please open a store in Perth!” K offered us doughnuts to take back to our apartment, which we happily accepted. I looked forward to sinking my teeth into an Original Glazed doughnut later. :)

Rocky Road Krispy Kremes

This cheeky kookaburra hung out on the balcony at B and K’s holiday house. It was there just about every time I was at the house. There was a brief funny moment when I thought the kookaburra had gotten into the house, but then I realised the one in the house wasn’t moving at all – it was stuffed!


Pizza delivery from Manta Ray Cafe, Hamilton Island
Jac and I drove back to our apartment, eager to relax for the evening. By dinner time we were starving but all the travelling had caught up with us (6 or 7 hours in the air, plus the time in between flights) and we were feeling much too exhausted to contemplate going out again – plus, the sun had all but disappeared, and the rain was bucketing down. Luckily, we’d picked up a menu for the local pizza place, the Manta Ray Cafe, while we were out and about earlier – and they delivered! There was a $5 delivery fee, but it’s well worth it when you’re feeling tired and ravenous! We thought the meatlovers pizza (AU$28.00) and vegetarian pizza (AU$25.00) both sounded delicious, so we ordered one of each. They were great! What I really liked about them, besides that they were generously topped with delicious goodies, was that they looked homemade, as well as handmade – the pizza bases weren’t perfect circles, and really looked like something someone made with their hands. The prices may seem expensive if you’re used to ordering $6.95 pizzas from Dominos, but these were fantastic – and the leftovers were great for breakfast the next morning, and a couple of snack attacks after that. :)

The meatlovers pizza was topped with chorizo, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, cheese, and BBQ sauce.

Meatlovers pizza

Meatlovers pizza close-up

The vegetarian pizza was topped with chargrilled eggplant and zucchini, artichoke, roasted capsicum and onion, with goat’s cheese, ricotta and fresh herbs.

Vegetarian pizza

Vegetarian pizza close-up

One of the best buns ever
Earlier that afternoon while driving around, we’d checked out the shops at the marina. We stopped at the bakery and I’d bought a cinnamon bun. After scoffing down several slices of pizza, I felt like something sweet – my cinnamon bun.

A bun from the Bakery

This was everything I love in a cinnamon bun – sticky-glazed, studded with sweet raisins, drizzled with sugary icing, and the bun itself gorgeously plump, pillowy soft and chewy. I get so much enjoyment unravelling the doughy scroll as I eat, exposing fluffy white bun, biting into those juicy little raisins.

A bun from the Bakery

I hope by the end of this series, those of you who’ve never been to Hamilton Island will have a good idea of what it was like – not only the food, but the sunshine, the marina, the beach, the pools… the holiday “island experience”.

*Heh – someone get this kid a map. And a gag.

The full list of Hamilton Island holiday posts, in reading order

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