AN abandoned lodge in the Central Highlands is being transformed into luxury accommodation by investors including former racing car driver Marcos Ambrose.

Bernacchi Lodge near Liawenee was built in 1980 to train Antarctic Division staff for expeditions but the building has been unused since 1999.

Yesterday, Mr Ambrose said he and the other four investors were spending $1.3 million to renovate and would rename it Thousand Lakes Lodge.

The lodge, at Lake Augusta, would have nine rooms and 13 bathrooms, as well as communal lounge areas with open fires.

“It’s an area that’s arguably the best wild trout fishery in the world, renowned for it’s angling, bushwalking and rugged wilderness yet it’s still accessible,” Mr Ambrose said.

“We’re in the World Heritage Area, so we’ve done a lot of consultation with Parks and Wildlife, State Growth, Tourism Tasmania and so on.”

Mr Ambrose said on retiring from racing he decided to invest in his home state and the booming tourism industry seemed like a good fit.

“It’s certainly a change of pace for me. I’m used to going 300km/h around a racetrack,” Mr Ambrose said.

“I’m a proud Tasmanian and I promised myself when I got back here I’d invest in the state and I feel like this is a great project that’s sustainable and sensible.”

Mr Ambrose said he enjoyed fishing and was hoping to improve his skills now he was involved in the lodge project.

Architect firm Cumulus ­Studio, which also designed tourism developments such as Pumphouse Point, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed and Devil’s Corner winery, is 13 weeks into the refurbishment, with the lodge due to open in October.

The Federal Government contributed $340,000 to the project through the Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund (the Cadbury money).