In June last year we spent a week on Hamilton Island. In many respects it was a unique trip. For one thing, it was our first beach holiday in Australia, the kind when after breakfast you ask yourself what you are going to do all this time before lunch. In contrast, our previous holiday trips were thoroughly planned affairs which involved booked motels (a different one each day), long hours behind the steering wheel and, the worst of all, early wake-ups, because you only had so much time before the sunset.
You can tell it’s low season when at check-in you are offered a complimentary upgrade from a booked 3-star bungalow to a 4-star hotel room. Despite being 25% less starry the word “bungalow” has a romantic appeal which simply can’t be beaten by something as prosaic as “hotel room”. I couldn’t come up with such smooth explanation on the spot, so I just flatly rejected that kind offer to a visible astonishment of the hotel worker.
Although we passed up the room upgrade opportunity, we quite enjoyed another advantage of the low season, namely the absence of crowds. There were enough people to keep most shops and attractions open but not enough to form a queue longer than one person. The only place where we had to wait in line for a cocktail was One Tree Hill – the best place to watch sunset. A makeshift bar was operating there from about 2 hours before the sunset and people arrived in droves on buggies and buses to enjoy the view and, possibly, a cocktail. I say “possibly” because of all cocktail-serving locations that one was the worst. My personal ranking of the cocktail bars that we visited, starting from best , is:
- Reef Lounge
- Bommie Deck
- Verandah Bar
- Sunset Cocktails on One Tree Hill
I’d like to give credit to barman Bailey in Reef Lounge for his absolutely delightful Margarita cocktail. The guy managed to strike a fine balance between lime juice and other ingredients so that the drink was fresh and zesty without being excessively sour. Later I tried to make Margarita at home – it took some trial and error to get that taste and I am not sure I can easily repeat it. Just goes to show that there is more to cocktails than a list of ingredients mixed according to instructions.
Bommie Deck took the second places in both cocktail and sunset categories. West-oriented, it provided a quiet sunset-viewing alternative to crowded One Tree Hill. That bar was part of Hamilton Island Yacht Club building which looked like a distant cousin of Sydney Opera House. In fact, after writing the previous sentence I checked the Club website and found this in Design Inspiration section:
A design masterpiece, the shape of the roof is inspired by soaring silhouettes of full sails and is a celebration of marine lifestyle.
No wonder it reminded me of the Sydney icon – all sailing ships look similar, be they disguised as an opera house or a yacht club.
|Variety:||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot|
|Date of purchase:||08/07/2012|
|Date of tasting:||13/09/2012|
An island is a somewhat mystical place which begs to be explored. In case of Hamilton Island, what with all the maps and guides, there weren’t any opportunities of Livingstone-style pioneering, but I had made a few discoveries of non-geographical nature. For one thing, I found Robert Oatley’s wines. Oatley family own the island and their wines were displayed prominently in the bottle shop and on menus. I took that opportunity to taste Wild Oats series and was pleasantly surprised with the quality of Shiraz Viognier, Tempranillo and, best of all, 2009 Cabernet Merlot. The last one was exceptionally good for just about $16 a bottle and later I bought a case of it.
In general, Hamilton Island left a very positive impression not the least part of which I credit to Island’s staff who were always helpful and courteous. The staff, the beauty of the place, that special feeling of the low season – all this contributed to the perfect relaxed beach holiday which I would like to repeat some time.