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Lume Magazine - Tasmanian Design Culture & Travel - I'm Converted: From Church to Luxury Stay

I’m Converted: From Church to Luxury Stay

Apr 17, 2024
Article by Claire Van Ryn

There’s something special about staying in a conversion. Whether it’s a converted woolshed, barn, factory or church, there are layers of history humming beneath the surface. As you press the key into the lock and open the door on your accommodation for the next few days, as you soak in the tub and kick back with a good read on the couch, you can’t help but be conscious that right here, right in this part of the building where you’re spreading your toast, 10, 50, 100years ago, the space had an entirely different use.

The Low Head Chapel dates back to 1877 and was built on land donated by a local farming family when the population surged following the introduction of the Bass Strait Electric Telegraph Cable. They needed a bigger place to worship, and the picture-postcard church in the Carpenter Gothic style, across the road from the historic Low Head Pilot Station, is what resulted.

The Anglican church was sold in 2020 and current owners Christie Denman and Geoff Clark have converted the building into luxury accommodation that retains a firm grasp on its roots.

And so it is that as you sit at the pew pulled up to the dining table and tuck into cheese and crackers with a glass of sparkling (included in your stay), you meet the realisation that this room contained the voices of salt-of-the-earth sorts, people with the grit to establish a way of life where very little existed, who arrived at church on foot or by horse and cart, singing hymns to the timber-lined ceilings, looking to their minister behind his pulpit (now holding a compendium of things to do and see) for hope to carry them through the week ahead.

The synchronicity between the Sabbath-keeping nature of the chapel’s first purpose and the rest-seeking that guests partake in when they stay now wasn’t lost on me either. I broke bread and gave my weary soul some down time, just as others did before the chapel was decommissioned.

Low Head is an area that has flown under the radar until more recent years, when waterfront properties have been snapped up for holiday homes and retirement destinations. It’s a gentle place of flat, riverside walks, historic buildings like the candy cane striped lighthouse a short walk from the chapel, and water. Lagoon Beach provides a sheltered place for a paddle, and there’s a crescent of sand directly across the road, nestled behind a stone wall. Windswept East Beach is for long walks, surfing and admiring Bass Strait’s blues.

The Low Head Pilot Station is a must-see, and it also houses the best little cafe/restaurant in the area, Seafood Shack, with sporadic opening hours that are worth figuring out.

As we packed up ready to head home, taking a last glance at the chapel’s gothic arched windows and doors, the quirky hymn board and the carved altar rails upstairs, it struck me how sad it is when a building’s use expires. Unless, that is, someone comes along with the vision to reinvigorate and reimagine its purpose. Low Head Chapel is blessed to have fallen under the gaze of Christie and Geoff. I have no doubt that guests will continue to sing its praises for many years to come.


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