When Billabong Retreat first reached out to me to visit their glorious getaway, I couldn't have been more elated. The idea of spending 3 days in paradise was incredibly appealing, particularly with the madness of silly season fast approaching.
I came away from the retreat with nothing but gratefulness, serenity and peace of mind instilled in me from a diet of yoga, meditation, relaxation and, of course, organic produce.
Easily reached in under an hour drive from Sydney, the rural landscape at Billabong Retreat made us feel like we were miles away. The retreat is (appropriately) situated around a huge, lily pad-covered billabong. An abundance of birds can be seen swimming and in the trees above and the entire area was, at the time of visiting, vividly green despite the 45 degree weather the day before we arrived.
The billabong is surrounded by ferns and shadowed by tall gumtrees. The main yoga and dining area is a beautiful wooden structure built high above the billabong complete with an outdoor lounge area for relaxing. Dotted down the side of the hill are cabins with beautiful bathtubs looking out to the trees. On the other side of the billabong is a large lodge with many different rooms. We stayed in one of these lodge rooms and enjoyed the five-minute walk to the main area every day as we got to check out the billabong wildlife on our way.
We enjoyed delicious, nourishing food throughout our entire stay. All food at Billabong is organic, vegetarian, and mostly gluten, dairy and egg free. Every warm meal was accompanied by fresh salads, encouraging us to eat more foods that are full of life. Obviously, encouraging people to eat wholesome, delicious food is something that resonates strongly with me. I loved it!
Some highlights were dinner the first night; a warming vegetable curry with brown rice, followed by a delicious chocolate quinoa cake, and breakfast on our last morning; buckwheat, banana pancakes with chia pudding and granola. Each meal was brimming with veggies and was filling yet light. A permanent tea, coffee and fruit station meant we could enjoy snacks and a warm drink as we snuggled up on the outdoor couches, looking over the billabong. I left Billabong Retreat inspired to include more salads alongside main meals and keen to recreate that chocolate quinoa cake!
The studio at Billabong Retreat is a long wood floor and a full glass wall overlooking the trees – yoga studios don’t get much more peaceful.
When we first arrived at Billabong, we stepped out of the car into 45-degree heat. It felt like we were walking around in a sauna, and we wondered how doing yoga in this temperature would feel. We checked into our room and headed over, not without some hesitation due to the sweltering heat, for our first session. While we were doing a restorative, mostly stretch based class, dark clouds rolled over and a huge storm began – within minutes the temperature had dropped almost 10 degrees! Hearing the rain drumming on the roof while we finished off our first yoga practice was a truly magical experience. We slept soundly that night with the rain still falling, grateful for the cooler weather.
The second day started early with a 7am, dynamic yoga class. We practiced a sun salutation and warrior poses. Our final yoga class was another mostly restorative session which left us feeling stretched out and relaxed. I had to fight the sensation of always wanting to do more and feel like I’ve ‘worked out’ from a class. These three days were about taking the time to slow down. This applies to the body as much as the mind.
Our arrival day ended with an introductory meditation class where we focused on feeling our breath in different parts of our body: the throat, the chest and the stomach. Our instructor guided us through some chakra breathing and body relaxation. I was surprised (and relieved!) to learn that meditation isn’t about sitting perfectly still and having no thoughts. Rather, it is about drawing the focus to one calm thing, and allowing other thoughts to come and go.
In our second session, we experimented with different focuses for mediations. We tried gazing into a candle flame, deep stomach breathing and alternate nostril breathing. It was a great way to work out which techniques worked best for each of us. One woman told an amazing story of avoiding pain during her childbirth by using meditation and focus. The session finished with a powerful group chant that seemed to connect the entire room with vibrations.
Overall, my experience of Billabong Retreat was unforgettable. I will, without a doubt, be back when I next need to relax, rejuvenate and refresh.
Billabong Retreat paid for my 3 day visit, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.