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When NASCAR and V8 Supercar champion Marcos Ambrose retired from racing, he and his wife Sonja thought they might just sit back and take it easy in their beloved Tasmania.
Growing up in Launceston, the wilderness was Marcos’ backyard.
Now his love for Tasmania’s wild zones is powering the next phase of his life.
Sitting more than 1000 metres above sea level, the rugged Central Highlands World Heritage Area is dotted with crystalline lakes and ancient dolerite boulders. It’s remote, barren and uniquely beautiful.
“I love fishing and walking,” Marcos explains, “and I can combine the two in the Thousand Lakes area – it’s my playground.
“You can walk wherever you want and there are literally over a thousand lakes to fish.
“It’s about letting your imagination run wild and going as far as your legs will take you.”
“No day’s the same. No trip’s the same. No adventure is the same,” he adds.
“It’s always different.”
A wild undertaking
A few years ago, Marcos transformed his passion for the region into a labour of love, embracing a unique opportunity to save a few buildings on the plateau that had been used as a training base for Antarctic expeditions in the 1980s.
But gone are the days where tourists are happy with tents, backpacking or spartan accommodation.
“Time’s change – people want comfort, too,” Marcos says.
“I saw an opportunity to save these buildings from being pulled down to recreate something new.”
Sixteen months ago, Marcos finally opened the doors to his remarkable Thousand Lakes Lodge, now a world-class destination for locals and international visitors.
Lonely Planet placed the lodge in its global Top 3 for Best New Places to Stay in 2018.
“I’m proud of what we’ve created.
“It’s a warm, comfortable, friendly space with unparalleled access to Tasmania’s wilderness,” he says.
“It’s a place where likeminded people can congregate … some want to ride their bikes, some want to see wildlife, some want to go fishing. Others want the hike of a lifetime.
“But they can all start or finish here at the lodge … that’s what makes it so special.”
Safe and warm
The Highlands are serene and silent, but can turn raw and unfriendly in an instant.
On days when the wind is up and the temperature drops, the chill can take your breath away.
Thousand Lakes Lodge offers a warm, luxurious escape from the elements.
Visitors can unwind after a day exploring, sit by the fire, eat a fine meal and drink local wines.
“We call it ‘lodge life’,” Marcos explains.
“It’s the ability to access the wilderness then come back to some luxury that really balances out your experience.”
But, surrounded by comfort, visitors to Thousand Lakes are rarely aware of how close to the natural order of things they really are.
The nearest electricity grid is miles away and the lodge has to generate all its own power.
Thankfully, Kubota makes this easy.
“In this extreme wilderness,” explains Marcos, “Kubota plays a major role in making sure our guests are safe and warm.”
The backbone of our business
Marcos has installed a Kubota KJ-S240 generator to cover the Lodge’s significant power requirements.
The four pole, single phase diesel runs to 24 kVA and 1500 RPM – enough to cover the Lodge’s needs and then some.
“We had our first generator blow-up,” remembers Marcos.
“We needed something we could rely on – we can’t have a failure up here; the site is too extreme.
“Our generator has to deliver power every day, every night, every hour, on demand.
“We needed something that was going to survive the harshest, super cold environment, backed-up by great service – that’s why we settled on a Kubota.”
The KJ-S240’s full enclosure and Kubota-designed three vortex combustion system are another bonus for the Lodge.
They reduce operating noise to almost nothing, so guests remain blissfully undisturbed.
“We depend on our Kubota generator totally – it’s the backbone of our business.”
Create your own adventure
When the sun sets, and the sky reveals millions of stars and the sort of pure silence impossible to experience in the world’s more populated places, it’s easy to remember that the plateau was barely a destination until the Lodge opened its doors.
Many people thought Marcos was taking on too much when he started to turn the derelict site into a world-class tourist destination.
“I made a commitment to realise my vision,” Marcos says.
“It’s not just a business for me, it’s about minimising environmental impacts, repurposing an old piece of industrial infrastructure to create a modern contemporary space.
“A place for people to enjoy this special landscape and share Tasmania’s world class wilderness.”
“The harsher the environment, the better the lodge feels.
“The better the day is outside, the more you want to be out there exploring.
“Everything slows down, and the environment just soothes you and allows you to find what you most need.
“When you come here,” he concludes, “you’re creating your own adventure.”
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