IMAGINE escaping for a couple of days to recharge and reboot.
Picture a timber cabin set among the trees, overlooking a tranquil billabong. You can’t hear traffic or industry, just the birds and the breeze in the trees.
There’s a bath tub on the balcony for you to soak in, or you can relax inside with a book. Start and finish your day with gentle yoga classes, unwind with guided meditation sessions, be nurtured with organic, seasonal delicious meals.
You might like to learn about strengthening your emotional health or improving your diet, or perhaps it might be more appealing to book in for a massage or facial.
More than just a dream, this was the reality of a two-day cleansing essentials program at Billabong Retreat, located in Maraylya, near Windsor.
Founded by Paul and Tory von Bergen, their vision is to “create a space for people to reconnect; to themselves, to others and to the nature around them."
The retreat offers various programs, from yoga, to mindfulness, wellness, mediation, stress management and self care. You can come for a day or stay for a week.
The midweek program begins on a Wednesday afternoon. Paddocks, horses, towering gums, and loads of peace.
Billabong is set on 12 acres of largely untouched bushland, but the buildings are dotted along an escarpment overlooking the water, maintaining a sense of privacy. After exploring the main building, yoga room, and dining area, we head to our cabin.
It’s a deluxe cabin with queen bed, lounge, balcony, bath on the balcony, plus one inside. Rainforest music is playing as we walk into the air-conditioned room, a candle is gently glowing. If this is a sign of things to come, I’m liking it already.
We are given a schedule for the two-day retreat, but it’s up to you what activities you join and ones you don't. There is yoga at 7am every morning and again at 3.30pm. These classes aren’t designed to break you, they are slow and steady.
In between there are workshops, meditation sessions, meals and free time. I’ve decided to turn my phone off for the duration of the retreat to really unplug.
The opening 3.30pm yoga class goes for 90 minutes, but disappears in the blink of an eye. It’s a chance to really leave the world behind, slow down, and get into retreat mode. By the end, our frazzled nervous systems have taken a deep breath. I’ve already forgotten about my phone.
With free time before and after yoga, workshops and meals, you never feel rushed. This place is designed to help you find peace of mind and regimented schedules just don’t support that.
Fresh meals are cooked for all breakfast, lunch and dinner, using local organic ingredients. It’s a communal dining room and buffet arrangement, but you can be as social or reclusive as you like. Chances are though, you’ll meet some really interesting people. The food is wholesome, delicious and vegetarian. We eat sweet potato and bean dhal, baked eggplants with a creamy tomato cashew sauce, luscious green salads and rice pilafs; it tastes good and is good for you.
As part of the cleansing focus, workshops on gut health and emotional cleansing are given. A gut health expert explains the benefits of probiotics and fermented foods, while the emotional cleansing focuses on ways to acknowledge and release emotion in healthy ways, rather than getting swept away in it.
We learn how to release it so emotion doesn’t build up and make us sick in body, heart and mind. It’s healthy, practical information, often overlooked.
The facilitators are friendly. Each retreat has a designated host that stays with your group from start to finish. Our host Larissa not only leads us in yoga and meditation classes, but sings to our group with a rich, calm voice, soothing us over the two days.
There’s no alcohol or smoking, but you aren’t deprived of coffee - it's no detox.
At the end of the retreat I feel energised, yet relaxed. At Billabong Retreat, you have the space to be gentle with yourself, and you know that you’re being taken care of.
The writer was a guest of Billabong Retreat.