The poignant magic of the holidays is a function of familiarity and repetition: once more we return home, visit family, and reengage in personal rituals of all sorts (placing your great-great-aunt’s china gravy boat on Christmas table; deciding to re-up with your therapist). The (metaphorical) baggage can get heavy. It’s best to reset your center of gravity in unfamiliar territory. Some refer to it as “Down Under” but it’s more fun to think of it as upside down: In Australia, tropical storms spin clockwise, you can’t see the North Star (earth is in the way!), and January means summertime.
Pumphouse Point, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania
Just south of the Australian mainland lies the rugged island of Tasmania, half of which is set aside as dedicated reserve land, national park land, World Heritage Sites, or some combination thereof. Pumphouse Point—once a decommissioned hydroelectric plant, now an industrial-chic hotel and retreat—is set within Lake St. Clair National Park. Surrounded by glacial mountains and the fish-filled waters of Lake St. Clair, Pumphouse Point has a rustic beauty that is part Colorado Rockies, part Oregon coast. It’s a quiet place for hiking, fishing, spying Tasmanian Devils, wombats and spiny echidnas (all of them are intensely cute), and taking in great lungful’s of air amid stands of eucalyptus. End your day viewing the arrival of twilight from a bay window, in a sitting room lined with Tasmanian oak, with a glass of the famous local cider.