The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Hamilton Island – Our First Day in Paradise

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 17, 2010

After our short stop out of Yeppoon to admire the beautiful scenery along the ocean on Sunday morning, we got back in the car to begin our 6+ hour trek north to the Whitsunday Islands.  Knowing that we would need to catch a ferry out to Hamilton Island, we knew we needed to leave as early as possible and we needed to make as few stops as we could.  We didn’t realize that that wouldn’t be too difficult as there was nearly nowhere to stop along the way!

Since we left early, we decided to have breakfast at a cafe when we saw one along the route (the breakfast at the Capricorn Resort was $25 per person and we weren’t interested in a full Australian breakfast buffet).  The start of our trip was like all of the others – lots of green and sunny 🙂  We found that this route was actually quite flatter than our past days of travel.

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IMG_5027A few hours in, after seeing almost no towns to stop in, we began to get hungry for breakfast.  Along the drive, we kept seeing signs for a town called Marlborough so we looked forward to reaching it, expecting it to have a few options for breakfast.  When we arrived, however, we were quite confused! It consisted of two gas stations and some residences.  Literally.  Luckily, most of the gas stations, especially along long stretches of road like this, have cafes inside so we stopped to grab a bite to eat (especially once we saw the sign that the next gas station wouldn’t be for another 100km!)

After we ordered, the Husband went back out to the car to get the camera to snap some photos of all of the wildlife in the courtyard. IMG_5016

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And then breakfast was served 🙂 This is what is called Eggs on Toast.  I discovered it in Hervey Bay and am a fan! If I haven’t already mentioned, I’m not much of a breakfast foods person but eggs and/or toast = perfect.  We, of course, added Vegemite to our toast (and we’re excited to find, thanks to Snopes.com, that we can actually bring some Vegemite home with us!).

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I also grabbed a box of biscuits (cookies) to take on the ride with us as we didn’t plan on stopping again until we reached the ferry.  This box included an assortment of 5 of Arnoff’s biscuits.  The Monte Carlo which had a vanilla like cookie with a raspberry coated vanilla cream; one most closely related to an Oreo; a cookie with a vanilla cookie and orange cream (my favorite); a vanilla and vanilla combo; and a vanilla cookie with chocolate cream.  We didn’t love these cookies but appreciated them as a snack when we got hungry on the rest of the long drive!

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After many hours, all of the John Williamson music we have on the Husband’s iPod, and another completed book on my Kindel (which I love! I’ve read three books so far while on this trip and have only need the small, thin device), we arrived in Airlie Beach, almost to Shute Harbour where we would catch the ferry to Hamilton Island.  We were excited to see the FantaSea sign – the company that would provide the ferry service.

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As usual, when we pulled up, the storm clouds came in 🙂 We bought our roundtrip tickets to the island (which turned out to be a savings instead of one way tickets but still was quite expensive at $43/pp each way), checked our luggage, and grabbed some water at the harbour cafe to wait for the next ferry.

Once the ferry arrived, we boarded and traveled the half hour to Hamilton Island.  About 800 people live on the island (if I remember correctly) and our ferry was filled with the children from the island who went to the mainland for school.  One of the children chatted us up, telling us about the island and that the rockiness of the water (it was very rocky!) was quite abnormal.  At one point, it got so foggy we couldn’t see any of the islands (which is crazy with the number of islands we passed on the short ferry ride to our destination).

IMG_5041 Once we arrived, we collected our bags and found the free shuttle to the Reef View Hotel which was up and down a steep hill from the boat harbour.  We checked in and headed to our room to drop off our things and have a look around.

As a quick note, when we booked our travel through Goway for this vacation, we chose the “Standard” accommodations option for our lodging, but we chose to upgrade to “First Class” in the Whitsunday Islands.  The hotel and the island (which is nearly all a resort except for the handful of residences) are amazing.  I keep telling the Husband I don’t want to leave 🙂 We’ll be here for 3 nights and will get you a “Hamilton Island” post on after we explore more on Wednesday.

As usual, we were impressed with our accommodations.

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And look at this view!!!IMG_5057

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The Husband spent a good amount of time on the balcony just snapping photos of the scenery and the birds 🙂

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After he’d had his fill of balcony photos, we ventured down to the Tourism desk and booked a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for the next day and then headed back down to the harbour to find a restaurant for dinner.  After checking out a few restaurants, we decided on the Manta Ray Cafe.

When we arrived, the hostess recommended we hang out at the bar and wait for a table on the deck overlooking the water.  Even though there were many seats available inside the restaurant, we took her up on her recommendation and headed to the bar.  They had a cocktail menu on a chalkboard that presented a Blueberry & Lychee Martini – I knew what I was going to have!

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The Husband ordered the Cascade Premium from Tasmania – the first beer we’ve both enjoyed in Australia! IMG_5113

After enjoying our drinks, our table was ready.  This was the view… 🙂 IMG_5119

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Since we had finished our first drinks at the bar, the Husband ordered another Cascade and I perused the wine list.  We found that they had wines from Mudgee! (This was exciting to us as the Husband’s brother owns land there and we didn’t know there were wineries there)  I ordered the Wild Oats Chardonnay on recommendation from the waitress. It was a bit tart at first, but was quite enjoyable as I got further into the glass.IMG_5122

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The menu consisted of pastas, unique pizzas (like Brixx – our favorite!), and starters.  We decided to order a pasta and a pizza to split.  For our pasta portion, we had the Papardelle which are wide flat noodles (like fettuccini but wider) with a wild mushroom sauce and goat cheese.  Once we added a bit of salt to bring out the flavors, this was very good.IMG_5133

The Husband chose the Shrimp Satay pizza which we both loved!  It was covered in satay-style prawns (shrimp), bok choy, bean sprouts, roasted red peppers, a coconut chili sauce and peanuts and cashews.  We had some leftover and enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning 🙂 IMG_5134

IMG_5135-1 We actually came back to this restaurant on Tuesday night after our trip to the Great Barrier Reef (post later today!).  During this second dinner, we had salads and shared another pizza.

I had the Rocket & Pear Salad (which also had parmesan and a white balsamic vinaigrette).  This filled the salad craving for me for the day! It’s been difficulty finding salads…

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The Husband had the Greek Salad. IMG_2196

Like Brixx, you can order half & half pizzas.  The Husband chose the flavors – one was called the Breakfast Pizza and the other half had Tandoori Chicken.  I don’t remember what was on each half, but we enjoyed the creativity and flavors once again. IMG_2197 Wednesday night we’ll be dining somewhere else, but it was nice getting to try a variety of items on the Manta Ray Cafe menu 🙂

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3 Responses to “Hamilton Island – Our First Day in Paradise”

  1. Laura said

    Happy you guys are enjoying your trip! I have loved being able to view the pictures along the way. Be on the look out for Schweppes Lemonade and Tim Tams (chocolate cookies) while you are over there if you haven’t seen them yet.

    • Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers said

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely keep my eye out :o) My sister loves Tim Tams as well! Apparently you can get them in the states now from what I’ve heard.

      • Laura said

        They are VERY addictive if you have a sweet tooth at all. You can find them at any World Market store in the states for around $3-$4 dollars. 🙂

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