If you’re like me, where you decide to sleep on your trip, your home away from home, can have a huge influence on the whole experience. Stay in an amazing property and you’re in the mood to soak up the atmosphere of the whole city, beach or wilderness area you’re visiting. Stay in a dive, and the gloss can come off the whole trip. Whether it’s an amazing view from the veranda, the vibe that an uber cool space gives off or the feeling of living seamlessly among nature, everything helps to contribute to the magic of the experience.
Our recent trip to Lake St. Clair in the Tasmanian highlands, and particularly our time at Pumphouse Point, ticked all the boxes. There is no questioning the uniqueness of staying in the 9-room boutique hotel suspended over beautiful Lake St. Clair about a quarter of a kilometre from the shoreline.
Constructed during the 1930s, the 5-story building was intended to pump water from the lake into a nearby lagoon to be stored and then used as part of Tassie’s impressive hydroelectric scheme. As fate had it, the facility was never used for its intended purpose and was eventually decommissioned. Fast-forward to the early 2000's when tourism operator, Simon Currant, successfully secured a lease over the site and patiently and painstakingly transformed it into the tourism masterpiece that it is today.
Guests have the choice of staying in the 9-room Lakehouse or on land in the 9-room Shorehouse. For us there was no question, we wanted to sleep over the water and got lucky and booked the only room that was available during our time in Tassie. This place is seriously popular! A quick scroll through their booking page shows that the place is pretty much booked solid for months.
Pumphouse Point is about a 2.5 hour incredibly scenic drive from Hobart Airport. As you enter the property you immediately get the feeling you’re somewhere special and the final approach, along the shoreline, gives you a great view of the Pumphouse, building anticipation for what’s ahead.
Checking in on the shore is a very laid back experience. No need to hurry. We were ushered into a sitting room in a reception building, offered a glass of bubbly to consume in front of a warm fireplace and checked-in in a leisurely fashion.
We were then directed to the longest golf cart I have seen, driven along the 250m jetty to the Pumphouse and given a tour of the building and an explanation of the ins and outs of our room. If the concept of a hotel built in the middle of a pristine highland lake isn’t impressive enough, then marvelling at the repurposed interior of this once industrial building should have you raising your eyebrows and widening your eyes.
Not being an interior design aficionado I can’t give you an accurate description of the style, but I would take a stab at minimalist industrial chic warmed up with the use of raw local Tassie oak and sprinkled with some classic mid-centry modern furniture. Put another way, the place is striking but still very comfortable. Our room on the ground floor was large enough for a king bed, big couch and an industrial finished en suite with black tiles and exposed copper plumbing. The hotel featured two common rooms over two floors. The one on the ground featured a view to die for and a large central fireplace.
To be clear you, could easily spend your whole stay living between your room and the common area, soaking up the atmosphere and breathtaking views across the lake to the snow-capped peak of Mt Rufus. However, should you venture outside, the property is sprawling with various walking paths around the lake, a lagoon with rowing boats and mountain bikes at your disposal.
Okay now for the standout! We decided to skip the set menu dinner affair that is served to guests in the Shorehouse and instead stay in, order freshly baked bread and raid the in-room larder. This larder was stoked with a scrumptious array of cold meats, cheeses and other goodies. All the other guests cleared out to attend dinner and we were left with the common room all to ourselves. Positioned in front of the crackling fire, bread board stocked with delicacies sitting between us, we took it all in. The light faded across the lake, the melodious sounds of Bon Iver played softly through the sound system, and we sipped on wine and whiskey from the extensive honour bar. It was then that we began to experience an alchemy, transforming a good time into something much more. An experience that transcends the ordinary and crosses into the magical. This is where you think to yourself ‘It actually doesn’t get any better than this!’
After a sound night’s sleep (aided by the wine and whiskey) we checked out of this Neverland and drove a very short distance to the Lake St Clair Park Centre. As the lake is at the southern end of the famous World Heritage Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, impressive walking tracks abound. We picked a 4-5 hour day walk (Shadow Lake Circuit) which offered a pretty spectacular trail (another story for another day). After the walk we took a very leisurely drive down from the highlands, returning to Hobart.
Regrets… We only had one night at the Pumphouse. To really experience the magic of this place, I would recommend staying at least two. That gives you time to do things like bike around the property and explore the lake by boat. We will definitely be returning, one day, and live this truly unique experience all over again…
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