The healing benefits of a retreat can be felt long after you’ve arrived home.
More Australians than ever are experiencing the healing, relaxing aspects of a retreat than ever before. Perhaps it’s a pandemic-inspired turn towards more healing and nurturing ways to spend annual leave; whatever the reason, there are many and varied delightfully restorative retreat opportunities to explore on Australian shores.
Some elements of a retreat might be the same as a holiday, such as journeying to a new location, relaxing, eating well. However, while a traditional holiday may have some stress inducing elements such as strict itineraries, meal preparation and complex travel plans, retreats aim to provide an escape from routine stress; but also, to offer a specific, more inward focus on health and wellness and a range of options to deliver that – think mindful movement, diets, natural therapies and education programmes. Fundamental to a retreat is its physical environment – carefully selected and curated, often in beautiful tranquil settings to enable immersion in nature as a core component of restoring a sense of wellness and as a contrast to a busy life.
In short, retreats aim to offer fully immersive programmes that encourage the calming of our nervous systems and the rebalancing of our whole selves.
The healing effects of a retreat on our health and wellbeing are reported by many visitors to have a lasting effect long after the return home. A trip that lasts just three or four days can restore a much-needed sense of balance but can also give us an opportunity to reset – with a new perspective, confidence and motivation to make new, healthier habits in our daily lives. With so many retreats now available across Australia and internationally, there is plenty of choice. Consider how you might like to unwind by asking yourself a few questions. Are you looking for a fully structured programme or something on the more relaxed DIY itinerary end of the scale? What types of mindful movement are on offer, such as different types of yoga and meditation? Is bathing in hot springs, walking in rainforests or swimming in the ocean or an ice-cold river on your horizons? Or all of the above? Are there different levels of physical activity options, and what massage and natural therapies are available? What focus on nutrition awaits on the menu? What are the lengths of the programmes, is there an educational programme and if so, what theme are the lectures based on – Detoxing? Managing hormones? Reducing anxiety? All of the above?
Whether the locale is a special inner-city sanctuary, deep in the mountains or out beside the ocean, the perfect retreat is waiting for everyone.
Here are some of our favourites to help pave the way for your wellness journey.
In the remarkable Tallebudgera Valley of Queensland, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat provides an exceptional break from modern life. ‘Gwinganna’ is an Indigenous word meaning lookout – and visitors are treated to the most magnificent lookout over the Gold Coast Hinterland whilst being gently guided on a health and wellness journey. The various retreats on offer are gentle programmes encouraging complete immersion into the wellness experience, equipped with unforgettable spa packages offering a myriad of therapies and a restaurant offering delicious organic cuisine often produced on site. Also on offer is a rare detox from technology, themed wellness seminars and a team of experts on hand to share the secrets to long term health and happiness. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat has a constant eye on sustainability and has been recognised and awarded for its retreat experiences, being named the Best Wellness Retreat Australia and Oceania, Best Australian Health and Wellness Retreat, and Best Luxury Eco Spa – Australia and Oceania amongst others.
Visitors are invited to either create their own wellness journey or join in one of the many inspired programmes now on offer at Peninsula Hot Springs – a natural hot springs, day spa and wellness destination located on the Mornington Peninsula, 90 minutes from Melbourne. Over 40 natural geothermal mineral baths set in carefully planned and rejuvenated local bushland provide a relaxing, invigorating and idyllic coastal oasis. Offering various water and mud therapies, mindful movement classes, dining and cafe options and some recently added glamping accommodation, Peninsula Hot Springs is a delightful and invigorating wellness destination.
Rejuvenation begins on arrival at New Zealand’s Maruia Hot Springs. Nestled in the breathtaking Lewis Pass two hours’ drive from Christchurch, guests are immediately connected to mountainous surrounds steeped in Maori and geological history. A gateway to nature exploration, this boutique natural geothermal mineral springs is a wellness destination, also offering an organic restaurant, classes and several options for onsite accommodation.
In the centre of Australia’s largest concentration of mineral springs, the town of Hepburn Springs is just a short drive from Daylesford, located within Dja Dja Wurrung country. It has been one of Victoria’s most-renowned mineral springs locations since their potential was discovered in Australia in the late 1800s. With their first spa bath house opening in 1894, the town has forever maintained its popularity, as travellers from across the country seek the healing benefits of their springs.
Just down the road and with encapsulating views of Daylesford in every direction, Clifftop at Hepburn has been consistently awarded and publicised for its design, views and overall getaway experience. Take in the panoramic sites while indulging in the immersive getaway of the retreat’s five-star villas. Clifftop at Hepburn’s secluded location within the landscape creates a unique feeling of serenity, allowing visitors to fully engage with their stay and detach from the stresses of their lives. This retreat is a secluded, self-determined experience, so the choice is yours as to how you decide to take in this extraordinary Victorian location.
Unwind in New South Wales’ Gaia Retreat and Spa nestled within 20 acres of land across Byron Bay. Known as Australia’s ‘healing heartland’, this retreat offers delicious, organic and home-grown cuisine. Guests at the Gaia Retreat, located within Bundjalung Country, can select from a range of daily activities, such as restorative yoga or energetic healing. Although Gaia offers a variety of therapies and experiences, your daily schedule is largely un-structured, instead being determined by you, so you can create your unique recovery and fitness plan while taking in the tranquil surroundings.
Alongside its rich history of viticulture, the Hunter Valley is also home to the transformative experience of the Elysia Wellness Retreat, around an hour’s drive from Newcastle. Awarded Australia’s and Oceania’s Best Wellness Retreat by the World Spa awards, this stunning retreat within Wonnarua country encompasses all aspects of retreat healing, from nutrition and bodily remedies to personal development. Elysia’s facilities and expert team offer a range of pre-planned activities based on your length of stay and desired experience, meaning the optimal healing experience is available for everyone.
For secluded beach views unlike any other, the Indijup Spa Retreat inside Western Australia’s Margaret River Wine Country is home to ten private, immensely comfortable villas only steps away from the coast, allowing for an incomparable sunset view every evening of your stay. Located within Noongar country and just a three-hour drive from Perth, Indijup focuses on healing the mind and body with intensive Bodhi spa journeys, massages and body therapies. Your wellness journey is in your hands at this restorative sanctuary, allowing you to relax and renew your spirit at your own pace.
Why not plan a thoroughly nurturing getaway with a retreat that replenishes mind, body and soul? With plenty to choose from and benefits that can last a long time after you return, what’s not to look forward to? Focus upon your wellness and plan a thoroughly nurturing getaway with a retreat that nourishes mind, body and soul. While reclining in luxury will always be a sought-after benefit of travel, health retreats additionally offer necessary self-care and healing, with lasting benefits to enjoy long after your return.