Thousand Lakes Lodge, Liawenee, Tasmania
A new luxury hotel has opened in the middle of Tasmania’s raw and rugged Central Highlands.
By Georgia Rickard
Published: 19 April, 2017
The stunning glacial and alpine landscape of Tasmania’s Central Highlands is characterised by prolific native wildflowers, scattered boulders and flat, expansive plains – and as of this month, a very special hotel. Thousand Lakes Lodge is an intimate nine-suite retreat in a former abandoned lodge, surrounded by World Heritage wilderness.
The lodge takes its title from the area’s nickname, the Land of a Thousand Lakes, but there are actually more than 1000 lakes here. “Glacial movement has carved literally thousands of valleys, waterways and floodplains into the landscape,” says hotel co-founder Marcos Ambrose. “No one has ever counted them all, but estimations range between three and five thousand lakes.”
From zero to hero
Much is still unknown about this wild and mysterious place, but its extreme weather, which can include snow at any time of year, sleet and regular sub-zero temperatures, is well documented. Thousand Lakes Lodge was built as an outpost of the Australian Antarctic Division; scientists were sent here to acclimatise to extreme weather conditions and isolation before embarking on missions to the icy continent. However, the building was eventually abandoned. It fell into disrepair and was due for demolition before Ambrose proposed converting it into a modern luxury wilderness lodge. “All the timber had been stripped out of its walls for firewood; it was being used by local fishermen and bushwalkers as a place of shelter,” Ambrose says.
A hotel is born
Today you’ll find plenty of creature comforts here. The resurrected building – a project overseen by renowned Tasmanian architecture firm Cumulus Studio – makes use of preserved materials and features wherever possible, including the original floor tiling in the lobby, doors created with pine logs repurposed from the original building, and the original fireplace, which now features a handmade, oversized combustion oven so heavy that nine men were required to install it. Other features include an honesty bar with local produce, Tasmanian craft beers, wines and spirits, and a changing roster of daily menus curated by Wursthaus Kitchen. The entire hotel is run off-grid.
Exploring what's outdoors
But the real highlight of this lodge is what you’ll find outdoors. “We get incredible weather patterns up there, incredibly clear drinking water and some of the purest unpolluted air in the world,” Ambrose says. Tasmania’s Central Highlands are also famous for excellent still-water fishing (the wild brown trout here is regarded as one of the finest fighting fish for inland fishing on Earth). Accordingly, Thousand Lakes Lodge offers a range of world-class angling experiences. “You can literally stand on the shore and pull in wild brown trout, or fish from a lake that no one has touched in half a century,” Ambrose says. If you prefer, there are guest fishing boats available, as well as experiences including whole day fishing trips, boating adventures and combined fishing and hiking trips. The lodge offers unfettered access to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, an area inaccessible by road and highly prized by hikers for its spectacular trails.
A wild end to every day
For those more interested in relaxing pursuits, there are electric mountain bikes to hire, easy walking trails to explore, a small but carefully curated library and a daily wildlife show to watch. “Each day when the sun sets, you can literally look out the front door to see wombats, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, platypuses, quolls, kangaroos and other native Australian animals come out,” Ambrose says. “It really is a wilderness experience.”
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