Hawkins won the first ranking title of his career in Bendigo last year, beating Peter Ebdon 9-3 in the final, and went on to enjoy his best season, culminating in a run to the final of the World Championship.
And the Kent-based left-hander is aiming for more success Down Under this week. After losing the first frame against Poomjaeng, he dominated the reaminder of the match, knocking in breaks of 61, 80 and 55 in winning the last five frames.
"I was suffering with a cold today but it didn't affect my snooker, and I've got a few days until my next match so hopefully I'll be fine by then," said Hawkins, who now faces Tom Ford in the last 16. "I don't feel any more pressure as defending champion, I'm just enjoying the game at the moment. It's great to be back in Australia and I'll try my best to retain the title."
Ford saw off Ryan Day 5-3 with top breaks of 53, 64 and 128.
Jamie Cope came from 3-2 down to beat Martin Gould 5-4, finishing with runs of 73 and 96, while 2011 champion Stuart Bingham eased to a 5-1 win over Noppon Saengkham with a top break of 73.
Both professional players who faced local wild cards came through unscathed, Michael White thrashing Shaun Dalitz 5-0 with a top break of 122 while Mike Dunn came from 3-1 and 4-3 down to edge out Steve Mifsud 5-4.
"I was very relieved to get over the line," said Dunn. "I was a bit fortunate to win in the end. Hopefully I can get some sleep before my next match and play better. The travelling takes a lot out of you and I felt very tired today."
Ball by ball scoring and results from tournaments