Sitting lightly in the landscape overlooking the Gippsland Lakes, about halfway along the eastern coast of Victoria, Metung Hot Springs takes full advantage of the unique geographical connection between the mountains and sea at the confluence of three alpine rivers.
Shaped over millennia, the landscape is paramount to the wellness offering, as are the underground alpine rivers that feed the naturally occurring 45-degree geothermal springs which in turn, run into the spas and showers. Rich with minerals: potassium, boron, magnesium, chloride, calcium and sodium, there is healing for everyone.
In keeping with Splinter Society’s understanding of the role nature plays in well-being, nature here has been focused to colour the whole experience. To this end, the built environment has been positioned to sit secondary to the landscape, which is undergoing significant work to restore the natural environment to its pre-colonial state.
That said, the jewel of the recently opened facility is a series of hot baths set on a cliff’s edge overlooking the immense lake and ocean beyond. Positioned just so, the dramatic picturesque views are absolutely breathtaking and almost more so for sunset bathing. Small stone walls define the area while providing casual seating options. It is a clever and subtle inclusion that adds a large degree of amenity without interfering with the primary experience.
A palette of natural, weathered timber pushes the buildings to sit back into the landscape while stone-edged gravel paths shape the way the site is explored. Locally sourced materials, including large slabs of raw ironbark timber, are used throughout for walls, showers and baths and have been intentionally left natural to age organically.
In the shower rooms, the brass taps sit exceptionally well with the warm timber tones. Ash battens across change rooms add a robust stripe to the dappling of light. Natural stones are similarly paramount and beautifully composed and curated while gently expressing the ecological ideas of water filtration through minerals and stones.
Taking its cues from the Coastal Banksia, the entry pavilion uses the form of the elongated and folded leaves in abstraction as an undulating roof line. Shade structures throughout the project utilise the same form with no gutters to slow the full experience of rain. Details, such as the white-washed timber tops of the path markers reference the site’s link to water navigation and nautical elements.
Located within the Banksia Forest, accommodation currently comprises 10 luxury camping villas positioned directly along the lagoon edge (there are plans for more). Here, timber and pale natural tones ease the platforms into the surrounding nature.
The interiors continue the bushland connection with light and dark timber combined with textiles in cream and forest green. Natural materials are used interestingly, small artisan lamps, for example, have been made from site-sourced mud. The tents open onto a balcony set to experience the lake and surrounding natural environment, including two geothermal hot barrels built into the deck.
And while Metung Hot Springs has options for glamping experiences with accommodation, dining and exclusive spas, there are also general public offerings with reasonable prices and kid friendly/ kid free options.
All of that said, what makes the site remarkable is the complete lack of either corporate or over blown aesthetic, instead, the driving idea of health in nature is expressly supported and realised beautifully.
Project – Metung Hot Springs
Architect – Splinter Society
Photography – Sharyn Cairns
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