I think I could get used to living in the Whitsundays. My first taste of the area – a visit to Airlie Beach and then some time spent on Daydream Island – had been a little hasty, but by the time I reached Hamilton Island I could feel myself unwinding and beginning to synch in with island time. It’s easy to relax on Hamilton; everyone is smiling and the staff are low-key enough to encourage a belief that no-one does any work at all here – although the high standards in housekeeping and guest comfort attest to their efficiency and competence. If it wasn’t for the unfortunate effect humidity has on my unruly, curly hair I think I could see myself spending the rest of my life on (or not too far from) the hammock in the image above. (Oh – of course, there is my family, responsibilities, the farm and all that stuff too. I did say I had slipped into island time!)
Hamilton Island is the largest resort island in the Whitsundays and has maintained more than 70 percent of the island as natural bushland which is home to an array of beautiful flora and fauna including Gumtrees, Paperbarks, Palms, Pines and ancient Cycads. The resort takes very seriously it’s responsibility to the natural resources on the island and to the internationally important reef and the sea life that surround it. Hamilton Island Enterprises participates in on-going marine park research and, because of a lack of any local recycling services in the region, the island has a cutting edge self-managed recycling programme and facilities. They manage their own waste glass, sell waste cardboard, plastic, paper, aluminium cans and steel cans to a recycling depot in Brisbane, collect litter as it is washed up on the beaches and treat their own effluent, recycling over 90% of the treated water for irrigating the parks and gardens.
On arrival I was ferried to my secluded and lushly landscaped accommodation, one of the newly refurbished Palm Bungalows, where I dropped my bags, admired the bed, the view and the kitchenette before giving the hammock a test run. You’ll all be pleased to note that it fit me perfectly and performed to my complete satisfaction – all I needed was a glass of gin and tonic to complete the experience.
I didn’t have long to wait for a refreshing beverage though, as it was getting late and there was a very special event to be celebrated at a place called One Tree Hill. The event is the sunset and is celebrated every day on the island. A pop-up cocktail bar appears at One Tree Hill at about five-ish and the guests gather to enjoy an amazing light show every evening. While the drink is welcomed, it is not really necessary, as the sunset itself is utterly intoxicating. Below are just a couple of the many images I took and, besides a little cropping, they are totally unedited.
After being completely dazzled by the stunning sunset it was (of course) time to eat! There’s no shortage of places to select from when it comes to dining on Hamilton, with a variety of cafes, restaurants, taverns and bars, but I was looking forward to Chef Adam Woodfield’s South East Asian food at Coca Chu. With almost 20 years of experience including working at a Michellin-starred restaurant and a New York restaurant of his own under his belt, Adam’s familiarity with the food of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia brings a skilled sparkle to the hawker-inspired menu at Coca Chu. Adams food is fresh, exciting and a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.
I’m sure you all wish you were there – either with me, or someone more interesting – but I can offer you a tiny taste of my amazing stay as the lovely Adam has shared one of his delicious recipes. The Spiced Siamese Cashews, pictured above, were devilishly more-ish and well worth the small effort to make them. Serve as a side or as a snack. Put the heater on high, add a gin and tonic, close your eyes and just imagine yourself on Hamilton Island for a few days.
Spiced Siamese Cashews
- 1 cup cashews
- 60 ml Indonesian sweet soy sauce
- 1 tsp water
- 10 gm dried shrimp paste pre-roasted, mashed or crumbled
- Pinch salt
- to taste - dried chilli flakes
- to taste - fennel seeds
- scallion rings green and white parts
- 1 or 2 slender lime wedges
- In a small bowl, combine the sweet soy sauce, water, shrimp paste, and salt. Taste to make sure that there’s a balanced salty sweetness. The dried shrimp funk should barely be noticeable. Set this seasoning sauce aside near the stove.
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the oil, cashews, chilli flakes and fennel for about 3 minutes, until gently sizzling and lightly fragrant.
- Lower the heat to medium low, give the seasoning sauce a stir, then pour into the skillet.
- Constantly stir for 15 to 30 seconds, until most of the liquid has clung to the cashews.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the green onion, then transfer to a small bowl.
- Serve with lime wedge for guests to add a tart brightness.
- Use a spoon to eat the Cashews as they can be messy - or not.