Tasmania’s central highlands is a place of extremes. As the signs at visitors’ centres ominously remind you, the land can be gloriously sunny one day only for a blizzard to blow in the next. And while the landscape is stubbornly wild and unruly, it’s also beautiful – and the location for one of Tasmania’s most luxurious wilderness retreats.
Just like the highlands, Pumphouse Point is a marvellous contradiction. Set on the southeastern shore of Lake St Clair, the original buildings were built in the 1940s but since its 2015 renovation, the old hydroelectric scheme buildings have found new life housing opulent suites and world-weary travelers.
There are three primary accommodation options. First, there’s the the titular pumphouse, a grand three-story building suspended 250-metres out on the permanently gelid Lake St Clair. From the two communal lounges (and certain rooms) you can see straight out towards the often snow-capped Cradle Mountain. Those who prefer solid ground beneath their feet can opt for the shorehouse, the old Art Deco substation which, in addition to suites, houses another lounge and the dining room.
Finally you have Pumphouse Point’s most lavish offering; the retreat. Set about 20 metres from the shorehouse and secluded in bush, the retreat appears hewn out of the highlands itself. The retreat is for guests serious about their privacy – except for the odd wallaby or wombat gamboling past your plate glass windows, you’re unlikely to feel disturbed in the slightest. Inside there’s an all-inclusive bar set up with local wines, beers, spirits and two skinny bottles of “pure Tasmanian rainwater”. The retreat also comes with private outdoor access and an al fresco bath.
Delightfully stranded in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness you’re probably wondering about the food sitch. You’ll never go hungry at Pumphouse thanks to a generously stocked larder in every room that includes everything from charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, smoked salmon, olives, condiments and chocolate meaning you can sloth in your room for dinner. The team will even bring you a loaf of sourdough still warm from the Pumphouse ovens on request. Otherwise you can opt for the shared dinner – Pumphouse partner with Coal River Farms to deliver a prescriptive three-course dinner highlighting the Apple Isle’s pastoral bounty (the kitchen can accommodate a number of dietary requirements given you let them know prior to your stay).
Stoke one of the log fires and snuggle up on one of the pillowy armchairs with a book from the supplied library or challenge your travel buddy to a game of Chinese Checkers. Because you will want to bring a partner, friend or travel buddy – Pumphouse Point overwhelmingly feels set up for intrepid couples, be they romantic or platonic. There’s no reason why you couldn’t enjoy a stay at the remote resort solo, but Pumphouse’s predilection for shared spaces and experiences are less daunting as a duo.
No matter whether you’re staying in the Pumphouse, shorehouse or the retreat, brave the nocturnal chill on a clear night and stare skyward. The stars shine bright so far from city streets.
Book a private walking tour with Wildside. Eren and his team know the mountainous region like the back of their hands and offer full or half-day guided walks exclusively to Pumphouse Point guests. While many of the walks around Lake St Clair are signposted, Wildside’s local know-how will help you understand and connect with the area’s history and landscape. The team will even tailor your walk to what makes you tick – no matter whether you’re keen on spotting wombats, discovering native plants or getting really adventurous, they’ll do their best to accommodate. Plus you can organise with Pumphouse to pack you a picnic lunch.
Visit the Wall in the Wilderness. Westeros may have giant wall of ice but Tasmania has a giant wall of intricately carved timber. The Wall in the Wilderness (located four kilometres drive from Pumphouse) is a labour of love carved in timber, predominantly Tasmania’s famous Huon Pine. Crafted over several years (and as it’s unfinished, several more years to come) by sculptor Greg Duncan, the Wall in the Wilderness illustrates the story of Tassie’s central highlands from European settlement onwards (there is a brief nod to its original Indigenous owners). The formidable carving gives the giant men, women, children, animals and objects cast in it an almost uncanny lifelikeness.
Drive Car Hire rent vehicles from both Hobart and Launceston airports (as well as from Devonport if you’re shipping across sans wheels). Pick up will take you all of five minutes – once you’ve completed your booking online, your vehicle will be ready to pick up at the airport carpark with the keys left in a secure lockbox. The drive from either of Tasmania’s primary airports takes roughly 2.5 hours. A four-wheel-drive is recommended and be wary of wildlife.