About an hour's drive west of Sydney Billabong Retreat is an oasis for anyone who needs a break from stress and the madness of city life.
Billabong Retreat is a yoga and meditation getaway that is situated on 12 acres of beautiful bushland. I have just come back from a short stay at Billabong Retreat which I thoroughly enjoyed. As soon as I arrived, I immediately felt relaxed. Billabong Retreat is a very different space than where I live in Potts Point, yet it could be hundreds of miles away in some secluded remote country area, not just over an hour away.
I was picked up at Vineyard Station (I caught the train there and rides can be arranged through the centre). My friendly driver shared lots of the local history with me and was a delight to spend some time with. On arrival the staff were super friendly, and I was given a quick tour of the premises and handed my key to one of Deluxe treehouse cabins.
I love nature, I'm aways escaping the concrete jungle when I can, so I was very much at home here amongst these beautiful wooden buildings, comfy lounge chairs, combustion fire, trees and oh those views! It's not called Billabong retreat for nothing; down below the cabins are two amazing billabongs full of croaking frogs and water birds. The photo above is the cabin I stayed in.
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As soon as I opened the door to my suite I was instantly at peace. Apart from the beautiful decor which is very much my style, there was music playing on an iPad (again my style), and the view was spectacular. This particular cabin has on outside bath on the verandah as well as a stunning bathroom inside with another bath you could nearly swim in!
A bowl of fresh fruit was there for me to help myself, filtered water and a great range of teas. I was totally at home! I was worried that the premises might be a bit cold but the common areas were all heated and there was air conditioning in my suite. As the centre is totally eco-friendly guests are encouraged not to take long showers and not leave the air-con on when out of the room. Shampoo, conditioner and body wash are supplied as they are bio-degradable.
The photo below is part of the view from the cabin I stayed in.
Billabong Retreat is the creation of Paul Von Bergen who had a vision to create a yoga retreat that he could share with others. His story is very inspirational and you can read it here.
There are a few rules that guests are asked to obey; no alcohol is to be brought on to the property and mobile phones etc are not to be used in the common areas. Be warned the wifi reception is very poor around the area and as you can imagine for someone like me that took a little adjusting, however, I did have a weak signal in my room so I wasn't entirely away from the outside world.
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Before I set off on my exploring of the property's grounds I took a look around the buildings. The photo above is part of the open lounge, and next to that is a library with some fabulous books, sofas and a great place to relax.
The Yoga room is stunning and is built above the wellness centre where guests can book in for a range of beauty and wellness treatments. Also available are private yoga and meditation lessons.
Other activities available are bikes to borrow and a gorgeous swimming pool. Not that I was about to go swimming on this cold winter's day.
Before lunch and yoga I had time to explore the grounds. I was in heaven. The property is stunning as you will see from the series of photos below. There are quite a few so I've put them into a slider to scroll through.
I spent some time exploring the Billabong area and also checked out the Billabong Retreat lodge accommodation that is on the other side of the valley from my cabin.
Next to one of the billabong's is a beautiful pavilion with comfortable chairs, hammocks and blankets for some quiet time to contemplate and unwind. It over looks bush and the water with views up to the cabins. I spent some time here by myself and felt very much rested swinging in the hammock.
I was getting a little hungry by now so it was time to head up to sample the famous Billabong Retreat vegetarian food.
The chef on duty when I was staying was Simon Favorito from Your Conscious Food - there is no doubt that Simon cooks with love. The meals that I had were taste sensations and very filling. Many went up for second servings but one serve was enough for me. As you would expect the food is natural, in season and a huge focus on nutrition. For afternoon tea, Bliss Balls were on the table and they were so tasty it's hard to believe they are good for you!
There are limited guests at the retreat so it doesn't take long to serve everyone. In this dining room guests sit with each other and once finished their meals are requested to take the plate up to a bench, scrape and stack. Everything is very organised.
I had a bit of a break before yoga class so headed back to my room to soak up the view with a cup of peppermint tea.
The yoga room is very welcoming as you can see from the photos further up this story. As soon as you enter there is a feeling of peace. Our teacher was Logan who guided as through some amazing poses. I do practice a bit of yoga on and off, so I didn't find the class too strenuous. It's a beautiful nurturing environment where you are encouraged to forget the rest of the world and just be in the present moment.
After yoga I had more free time so I headed back to my room for a while and then it was back to the dining room for another amazing vegetarian dinner, with an hour's rest before meditation.
Again, Logan took the class and I learnt a couple of meditation techniques that I had never heard of before and something I will practice from now on.
I headed back to my beautiful cabin and fell asleep listening to the frogs and being very aware of the silence; a far cry from the inner city where I live!
Billabong Retreat offers a range of packages for everyone's budget and I certainly would encourage you to check it out if you are looking for some downtime.