4/2237 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach
Ph: 5575 3420
It only took three words, “Let’s do it!” to launch eleven friends into action. Their venture, The Cambus Wallace opened in late 2012, inspired by history – the history of a ship run aground; the history of a nation whose currency was rum.
“We wanted to fill in the blank spot that we thought was missing in Gold Coast venues,” owner/manager Dave Ferry told me. “The nautical theme came first, and we’d seen the venue months before, then we learned about the Cambus Wallace. It matched perfectly.”
Well, almost! The Cambus Wallace, a ship which foundered off the Gold Coast in 1894, was carrying a load of whiskey, beer and explosives. There’s lots of whiskey on the menu, but it’s the range of rum that takes my eye. So how does that fit?
“Whiskey’s all the rage interstate,” Dave acknowledges, “but we also wanted a great cocktail menu to please the ladies. Rum’s a far better base. Plus it was the drink of choice for many of us.”
Eleven great-looking blokes, I’m thinking. There’s more than cocktails here to keep the ladies amused! Plus a fabulous venue…
The Cambus Wallace is a very classy nautically-themed bar decked out in timeless wood, replete with nets, boating paraphernalia and even Long John Silver’s parrot. Along one wall Dylan Quirk’s moody mural of a frigate at war with a stormy sea reminds us that the sea is a cruel mistress indeed. Rum takes pride of place in our history too. It may have been whiskey spilled on South Stradbroke Island’s rocks, but it was rum that featured in Australia’s first and only military coup, the Rum Rebellion.
The menu titles reflect the venue’s nautical origins – ‘Italian Stowaway’, ‘Captain’s Table’, ‘Walk the Plank’ and ‘The Spice Merchant’. Nautically themed, they’re a mix of generous share plates, charcuterie cheeseboards and breads, with main course specials and desserts given on a blackboard menu. It’s great quality food from Chef Jonas Kleistch; certainly not the average beer-soak up!
The bar is obviously the centrepiece of the action. There are local beers on tap, the promised cocktails and a few wines, but turn the page… The menu features a who’s who of some of the world’s best rum, (over twenty in total), many from the Caribbean and Central Americas, as well as our own locals from Beenleigh and Mount Tamborine Distilleries), as well as single malt whiskies (hats off to the Cambus Wallace), more than enough options to keep the First Fleet happy for the entire journey, and enough to give me rum envy, if not for Dave’s helpful guidance!
In the moody half light I stare into my Pussers British Navy rum, served in a cute tin cup and read the inscription:
“The wind that blows the ship that goes, And the loss that loved a sailor!”
It’s too early in the night to be melancholy for lost loves, but it’s not hard to get into the mood of this place, dark and dusky as it is, to imagine the stormy seas not far from here which took the lives of five sailors on the Cambus Wallace.
Leaving before I’m washed up on the shores of regret, I look back and ponder… Yey, me hearties, behind these doors lies history…
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast