So admittedly, I’ve been working my way around a few retreats of late. Now I could say that’s because I’m very blessed and privileged to be in a position to be invited (which I am), but they’ve also sparked my interest lately, not least because I’m finding city life more and more exhausting…it must be to do with my age. Some amazing places are popping up all over to offer up tired workers a slice of peace, relaxation and calm. I can’t get enough.
While you might not have the finances or time to travel internationally, there’s some excellent ones to be found on your doorstep. Introducing Billabong Retreat – just 1 hour north of Sydney, but a world away from, well, everything. A meditation and yoga retreat, this is the baby of Paul and Tory Von Bergen, a couple of former Sydney-siders who opened the retreat in a bid to provide solace to stressed out city folk. Known for their ‘Health, Yoga and Relaxation Retreats’, it seemed to tick all my boxes, so I jumped in the car and hit the road for a 2 night stay.
A thirty-bed boutique retreat offering affordable escapes with amazing organic cuisine, an incredible nature setting, stunning resort style swimming pool, gentle yoga, mindfulness and meditation classes. These guys were the Winners of Best Health & Wellness Retreat and Most Unique Accommodation 2013 NSW Tourism Awards.
- Prices from just $200 pp / night all inclusive
- Nature paradise just 60 minutes from Sydney
- Set on 12 acres of natural bushland
- Stunning treetop en-suite cabins overlooking the billabong
- Magnesium aqua-therapy swimming pool
- Healthy and delicious organic food
- Yoga, health, meditation & mindfulness retreats
So you love nature and all that, but what is there to do? The purpose here is not to do much really, which is rather wonderful. This is the kind of thing you can look forward to:
- Hit the spa for a facial or private holistic treatment.
- Do a yoga class, guided meditation, or even try your hand at some chanting.
- Walk the local 7k track around the surrounding rolling countryside, or grab a bike (free!) and explore on two wheels.
- Talk to your fellow – retreaters. I met some amazing women (+ men) in such a short space of time who’s stories really inspired me. I’m looking at you – producer of ABC’s Compass.
- Use the on-site library and pull up a chair.
- Meditate in the pavilion, or just swing around on the hammocks.*
- Listen to an audio book (provided) and tune out.
- Settle into a movie night with your new-found crew (Tues, Thurs, Sat).
- Jump in the brand new pool and float around. You’re not here to do laps.
- Head to a nutrition workshop – there’s loads to choose from dependant on the days you’re there.
- Eat the delicious organic, wholesome food that’s provided. If they roll out the Chocolate Quinoa Cake, you’re going to ned two slices.
- Sit in front of the fire and drink copious amounts of herbal tea while watching the wildlife in the beautiful backdrop.
*Note, these are seated-style hammocks. Don’t make a fool of yourself by trying to lie in one like I did. You may just tear a muscle.
I have to say from the outset that there’s no internet connection (that goes for 3G signal too), which I found to be unnerving and down-right irritating. With Fit Mixes orders coming in left-right-and-centre, I don’t have time for down-time. I did come to realise though that 24 hours disconnected from my business would have minimal impact on my business, but a huge impact on my body and mind. An excellent trade-of for burnt-out peeps. Be warned, you’ll hate it, and then embrace it.
The retreats are all-inclusive, so you can kick back and not have to worry about a thing. It’s vegetarian (which I found to be a nice break from my meat + fish – heavy diet) and seriously filling. I thought my body would be missing the protein, but there were loads of tasty legumes and low-GI carbs to full me up. If you’re a sensitive little bear, these guys can provide gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, egg free, nut free and vegan options too. Herbal tea and fruit is available all day if you get the munchies, and afternoon snacks are provided too (think bliss balls and other tasty treats).
Accommodation ranges from share rooms to private deluxe cabins. I can only comment on my own beautiful cabin – it came with two baths (one indoor, one outdoor) and a separate shower. As an eco-retreat, all the water used it natural rain water collected on-site. The room also included a private balcony overlooking the water, music system, epsom salts, a fully stocked fruit bowl, full air conditioning / heating, tea making facilities and a fridge. The decor was simple, natural and beautiful – very in-keeping with the surroundings. The bed was delightfully comfortable and had extra blankets for cold evenings. This is not he kind of place you’ll be hanging out in your room much, but if you did want to, it’s a beautiful space.
Can’t give up two nights? This place is open for day visits too – you can jump in on the yoga, workshops, meditation and more to get a slice of the good life, pronto.
41 McClymonts Road | Maraylya | NSW 2765
Tel: 02 4573 6080