Lake St Clair – Pumphouse Point

Lake St Clair – Pumphouse Point

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Pumphouse Point
Pumphouse Point Photos: Paul Fleming

In the 1940’s, Tasmania’s newest hotel was a hydro-electric power pumping station. Located in Tasmania’s central alpine highlands, Pumphouse Point is an art-deco wonder on the outside. Inside you’ll find luxurious, modern, earthy, warm and intimate lodgings. A stay at Pumphouse Point is an immersive experience that connects you with the outdoors, the rugged heartland of this island on a level you won’t find anywhere else.

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Lake St Clair

Pumphouse Point is located 250m out on Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake. It has a 360-degree view of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, which is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s a 2.5-hour drive north west of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city.

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As I approach Pumphouse Point and Lake St Clair, I enjoyed the looking at the forest. This forest is a favourite spot of mine. Drive carefully, as our wildlife is often found along the roadside too.

This is not an ordinary hotel. There’s no reception desk, just some couches, comfy chairs and a friendly welcome from the staff who were prepared for my arrival.

I was escorted in an electric buggy to the centrepiece of the development, the Pumphouse. The building is deceptive in size. It’s about five stories high. With nothing else around it your mind plays tricks on you and you. Is it big? small? grand?

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The pumphouse was built in the late 1930’s and completed in 1940. It’s part of Tasmania’s hydro-electric power schemes and was used to pump water from the lake – via gigantic hulking turbines – to feed the Derwent River system. I believe it has been sitting abandoned since 1995.

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On a calm day it feels like you’re in a dreamscape. On a wild day, you’ll know you’re alive.

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This is no jetty; it’s a ‘flume’. It carried the water from the turbines in the pumphouse back to land. Entering the huge doors of the Pumphouse, your eyes take a moment to adjust to the lighting.

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Take the stairs or lift, which is cleverly hidden behind a subtle door, and you will discover a quiet space perfect for snuggling into a chair with a book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Better still, bring a friend to share your cheese and smoked quail.

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The best views

The best views are in the main guest lounge. The lounge has couches and a wood heater for those winter evenings. There’s a tablet on the coffee table with more information about the hotel.

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If you’re a keen photographer, as I am, keep an eye on the changing, moody light. The flume and pumphouse provide a unique prop to photograph, especially at sunset.

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There are 12 rooms in the Pumphouse. Pumphouse Signature rooms are roomy and have lake views. We stayed in room 8, a Signature room on the first floor. The top floor houses the four Pumphouse Top Floor rooms. Two have baths. These are the grandest rooms in the property.

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There are two onsite options. The dining room of the Shorehouse is where the communal two-course set-menu dinner is served. My meal was a main and dessert, both delicious. The menu changes daily with the seasons. The second option is the larder in your room (available 24/7). Two mini fridges are stocked with premium Tasmanian wine, ciders and food.

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At Pumphouse Point you’re encouraged to build your own adventure. You can do as little or as much as you like. If you feel like exploring, jump on one of the free to use bikes or grab a paddle and life jacket (and your picnic) and take one of the row boats out for a leisurely cruise.

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Climbing trees wasn’t mentioned as an activity in the in-room compendium, but hey, the view is great from up there!

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The lake

The hotel is surrounded by the 1,600sqkm Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It sits on the 15km-long Lake St Clair. The lake is one of the main reasons this area is part of the World Heritage Area. The lake is the remains of a glacier that pushed through the valley over 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.

Take the ‘Idaclair’ ferry from Cynthia Bay to hear stories from bushwalkers as they complete the six-day, 65km Overland Track. The ferry stops at Echo Point. In summer, the flowering Leatherwood trees add an enchanting touch to the green foliage. When in Tasmania, you have to try the leatherwood honey. It has a rich flavour you won’t find anywhere else.

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Did you spot the tiny little human on the shore?

The Echo Point hut is one of the last remaining original walker’s huts on the Overland Track. It’s set amongst fairytale-like dark forests filled with critters of the cute variety (think wallabies, wombats and platypus).

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At Echo Point you can get a glimpse of the trails that criss-cross the National Park. The great thing about Tasmania is there are no bears, cougars or wolves. Our animals are more likely to overwhelm you with adorableness than claws.

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Native flowers spring to life throughout the year. In summer you can find these mountain rockets readying their seed pods for the wind to collect and scatter.

Take your camera and lots of memory and be ready to capture stunning photos. Beware that the weather changes in a heartbeat here in the mountains. Sunny days can swiftly evolve into misty, dramatic skies, sometimes multiple times a day.

Discover Tasmania

For more things to see and do in Tasmania see Best of Tasmania and Discover Tasmania.