PUMPHOUSE POINT, TASMANIA
Some twenty-thousand years ago, when the earth was still frozen over, a steep ravine was forged in the central highlands of Tasmania and one of Australia's deepest lakes was born (some say its THE deepest). Hitting depths of 160 metres and an area of approximately 17 square miles, Lake St Clair forms part of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, 170km north of Hobart.
In 1930 the state of Tasmania's Hydro Electricty Scheme built a 5 storey pumphouse, 900 feet out on the lake to house huge water turbines for their hydropower system. Completed in the 1940's, it was officially decommissioned in the early 1990's, with rumours that it only operated for 6 months after completion.
The Tasmanian Government put Pumphouse Point up for tender to tourism investors and in 2004 Simon Current successfully took on the challenge of breathing life in to the historic site. Known for his commitment to Tasmania's Tourism Board and his previous developments at Cradle Mountain Lodge and Peppermint Bay, there was perhaps no one else better equipped for the task.
Today Pumphouse Point is 18 rooms of luxury sitting on the edge of wilderness. Transcending any hotel or lodge stereotype, it aims to connect guests with a part of Tasmania that is mostly untouched.
Checking in to a glass of sparkling on arrival, bags and guests are whisked over the jetty on golf buggies to the Pumphouse. There are three storey's with unique rooms, some with the addition of a bath. A king sized bed sits elevated in my split level room with rusting original window bars overlooking the lake. Even the loo has a view.
Furnishings are paired back, with a refined Scandinavian aesthetic. Couches and linens in muted grey and navy tones are accented against a cherry wood wall, giving the room warmth. Forget a mini-bar, the rooms larder is stocked with pate, smoked chicken, cured meats, olives and lunch boxes for day trips, with fresh bread on request.
Connecting each level is a communal lounge, centred around a fireplace. Art-deco leather chairs, deep couches and blankets have guests wrapped up and cosy for the frosty afternoons. It's a great spot to connect with other guests, with rumours of whiskey drinking at 10am on a complete snow-in!
Adjoining the lounge is the "Honesty Bar" where guests help themselves to a selection of wines, spirits and beers, noting in a ledger what they have had to be settled on check-out. It's a system that reflects Simon's vision and the unspoken respect guests have for Pumphouse Point.
Days are spent in the surrounding areas fishing, hiking and trying local produce and can be exhaustive. Around 7pm guests gather for a family-style dinner in The Shorehouse, which also has guest rooms and was formerly the Hydro substation. Unwinding with a bottle of wine from the Honesty Bar, guests share tales of their explorations from around the National Park as the sun goes down, watching wombat's walk by.
The dinner menu changes daily, with allergies and dietary requirements catered for. A starter of Pumpkin soup with a savoury scone was just what the cold Tasmanian climate called for. Followed by some soul food of slow braised beef cheeks and steamed greens. Orange cake with poached fruit was a hit with the guests to finish.
The included breakfast is a simple spread that has a selection of breads, ham, cheese and jams. Nut and seed filled granolas with yoghurt and poached rhubarb are divine and satisfying enough for the day ahead.
The serenity of Pumphouse Point has an eerie feeling, with the history still very much alive in the building. There is a mystery to it's story and it's quite magnificent to be sleeping 200 metres over a lake. It's this experience that is perhaps the reason why Pumphouse Point is booked to capacity months in advance.
First light at Pumphouse Point is best explored by the provided bikes. Cycling through mist and fog around the lake, the water is still and glassy. The mood in the morning is so quiet, it's unlikely you'll bump in to anyone else.
If you're keen to further explore the lake, reception has life jackets and oars for guests to use with their fleet of boats. Inlets and tiny islands are dotted throughout the lake and there is little current, making the journey easy. It's peaceful and perfect with a packed lunch from the larder.
As guests check out, some have made plans with each other to drive on throughout Tasmania. It appears friendships made at Pumphouse Point are of substance. Hidden in the depths of Tasmania, connecting with nature and other like-minded travellers, Pumphouse Point is a true wilderness experience where community is cherished and remoteness is valued.
FEEL: Remote luxury.
ROOM PICK: Any in the Pumphouse - particularly the top floor.
WIFI: Yes, included.
RATES: Nightly rates start at $280 for The Shorehouse and $460 for The Pumphouse, inclusive of breakfast. Dinner is $50 per head.
IN ROOM: King bed, larder, heating, TV, rainshower, coffee/tea facilities.
MINI BAR: The larder has a selection of wine, drinks, cured meats, cheeses, olives and lunchboxes.
GETTING THERE: Pumphouse Point is about a 3 hour drive from Hobart or Launceston.
WHEN TO GO: Anytime you can get a booking! In Winter expect cosy days in front of the fire. In Summer there's more opportunity for hiking.
I stayed courtesy of Pumphouse Point.