An Antarctic training camp in Tasmania's central plateau has been transformed into a boutique lodge with some of the island's best trout fishing on its doorstep. Opened in October, Thousand Lakes Lodge is located east of Walls of Jerusalem National Park, two hours' drive north of Hobart and 90 minutes south of Launceston.
Formerly named Bernacchi Lodge and used by Antarctic expeditioners, it was earmarked for demolition before a group of five investors, including former motorracing champion Marcos Ambrose, stepped in with $1.3 million and a brief for Tasmanian architect Cumulus Studio, known for its work on Pumphouse Point. The lodge has nine guestrooms, most on the upper level, all with private bathrooms (though not all are ensuites) and some with bathtubs. Downstairs is a dining room, bar and lounge, where guests relax around a slow-combustion fireplace designed by Ambrose, so heavy it took nine men to shift into place.
The project was a homecoming for Launceston-born Ambrose, allowing him to return to his hometown with his wife and two children after nearly 10 years in Charlotte, North Carolina. He describes the lodge site as "Tasmania's wild backyard".
For fly-fishers, there's access to arguably the world's purest strain of wild brown trout in surrounding lakes. After a day of exploration there are fireside drinks - Tasmanian spirits, wines, ciders and beer - and dinner from a menu by Hobart's Wursthaus Kitchen.
After a decade in the fast lane, Ambrose says he's happy to slow down. "It's a different form of wilderness," he says. "It may appear stark, but it's full of life. Nowhere else in Australia is like it." Rooms from $260, including breakfast. 1247 Lake Augusta Rd,Central Highlands, Tas, (03) 6346 1990, thousandlakeslodge.com.au