Everyone needs to take time off, even us digital nomads! Many of our friends and family think our lives are just one big “vacation” but the truth is, life on the road can get busy and stressful. Sometimes you just need to slow down, stop for a moment and take a breather.
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For me, one of the best ways to recharge my energy levels is to get offline and connect with my body and my mind. So a few weeks ago, when Max set off for on a boys trip to Thailand, I decided to take the opportunity to treat myself to a getaway as well!
Since at the time we were exploring Australia, I wanted to find a local retreat that didn’t require a whole lot of travel. I came across Billabong Yoga Retreat just outside of Sydney and thought it would be the perfect place for me to spend a week in Max’s absence!
About Billabong Retreat
Surrounded by the beauty of nature, the Billabong Retreat is just a short drive from Sydney. It’s an award-winning eco-conscious wellness retreat dedicated to providing a peaceful place for people to reconnect with nature and themselves.
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Founders, Paul and Tory von Bergen, bought the land in 2008 and took on the daunting task of designing and building the retreat themselves from the ground up. They opened the doors and their hearts in 2010.
They offer a variety of programs, from rejuvenation to meditation, mindfulness and wellness. They also offer workshops in stress management, self-care, and nutritional cleansing.
I choose to attend their Rejuvenation Retreat which includes daily yoga, meditation and daily workshops and really enjoyed my experience.
Each day would start at 7am with a vigorous morning yoga session, followed by breakfast and a morning workshop. The workshops were definitely thought-provoking, focusing on and self-love, on incorporating the practice into your daily life and on relationships with others.
After lunch, we usually had a few hours to relax, read a book or just chat with others in the lounge area.
Restorative Yoga session followed at 3:30pm and dinner was served at around 6pm.
There was plenty of time to relax, read, journal, sleep and just be, without distractions. It was a great opportunity to unplug and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life.
One of the best parts of the retreat was sitting around the dinner tables and chatting, sharing deep and meaningful conversations with the others on the retreat.
There is something really special about being able to chat with people that are not your close friends, who can offer a fresh new view on life’s challenges and give you an opportunity to see things from a new perspective.
Accommodation at the Billabong Retreat
I stayed in the twin room with a shared bathroom in the Harmony Cottage. It was close to the reception and common areas, which made it easy for me to pop in and out as I needed.
The proximity of the Harmony Cottage was nice, but I’ll be honest, some of the other accommodation options looked a lot more appealing.
The Treehouse Rooms offered the same facilities as I had in the cottage, but boasted much nicer views.
Other accommodations options available on site included Deluxe Cabins and the Lodge Ensuite.
The Lodge Ensuite is the most luxurious option, but it is also the most remote, requiring 5-10 min walk from the common lounge area and the dining area.
My favourite part of any travel experience is the food and the Billabong Retreat meals did not disappoint! We were treated to an amazing buffet of homemade delicious vegan and vegetarian meals.
The meals were complex with lots of colour and amazing nutrition packed into each dish! My absolute favourite was the activated buckwheat granola that became my morning staple!
The chefs are Billabong changed every 2-3 days, which means that so did the style of cooking. I loved the change, as it gave me an opportunity to try a variety of style (ayurvedic vs wholefoods). But regardless of who was doing the cooking, the flavours were amazing and there was always plenty for seconds and even thirds!
Plus at the end of the retreat, all attendees got access to some of the recipes from the chefs on site. I’ve picked up quite a few and have been experimenting with new flavours in my own cooking!
There was lots to do to fill time between yoga and meditation and spa treatments seemed to be the thing to do! You can take your pick and even design your own wellness program from things like massages, facials, reiki, naturopathy, hypnotherapy or kinesiology. The spa treatments aren’t part of the retreat though, so they do have to be booked separately and in advance.
I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the treatments on site but heard that great reviews from others!
Billabong Retreat is a fully certified eco-retreat. From the recycled materials used in the building to the green energy sources for hot water and electricity, the retreat operates with the environmental impact as the top priority. I was really impressed to see that sustainability at the Billabong Retreat is not just a marketing ploy.
Other eco-friendly policies include avoiding single-use plastics, using recycled paper products, rainwater collection and using eco-friendly, organic bed linens and a lovely magnesium pool.
Who is the Billabong Retreat for?
To be honest, this retreat for anyone and everyone! If you are feeling stressed, just need a time out, a chance to get away from it all, then a Billabong Retreat will be ideal. For me, the retreat offered the much-needed space to recentre, take a break from work and truly rejuvenate after a busy month of travel in Asia.
Retreats at the Billabong are perfect for singles – you can be as solitary or as social as you want.
Most of the attendees on my Rejuvenation Retreat were women aged between 30-60 years old, but there were a couple of men in the crowd as well. And while I was originally skeptical about a co-ed retreat, I found the men to be a great addition to the dynamic of the group.
While the attendees at Billabong were mostly local from around Sydney, there were a few attendees from New Zealand and a number from other parts of Australia. I was afraid that I would feel a bit out of place, being not from Australia, but in the end, it didn’t matter at all! I had a wonderful time!