Jay Houhlias

When one thinks of Sydney, they think Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach, and of course a stubborn insistence of better coffee than Melbourne. However, as I came to learn over my stay at Billabong Retreat, there is a whole other side to our great city.

It’s a side of tranquil lakes, open fields, long roads, and trees which block out the busy sounds we have become so accustomed to hearing. Don’t judge a place by its landmarks – I am going to claim this quote for my own.

This month, your editor March-ed daintily footed through his adventure with elegance, grace, calm and complete relaxation. My stay at Billabong Retreat, situated in locale of Maraylya (45-minute drive from Sydney City), included a 2 night stay with all meals included.

Billabong Retreat is an award-winning, eco certified, all-inclusive wellness retreat. I participated in the Energise Your Life retreat which was centred around yoga and relaxing ways to revitalise your daily routines. Just to confirm, I was not experiencing mid-life crises symptoms – thank you for your concern though. The idea with things like these doesn’t have to be about fixing yourself, but to use these things as a treat to yourself; to maintain yourself.

My room was a beautiful deluxe cabin which featured a balcony overlooking the billabong. It was a lovely warm timber make up, and I thought that it could also make for a great ski cabin.

It was raining lightly on the first day, and heavier rain was forecast for the next few days.
‘Shame about the weather,’ one of the staff had said. But I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I thought that the rain made the retreat all the better. When the rain eventually did come down hard, I sat on my balcony listening to it, knowing that I wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t need to go anywhere.

There were two morning yoga sessions and two evening yoga sessions, and you could participate in as many or as few as you liked. I did all four because I wanted maximum Zen. The two evening yoga sessions were Yin yoga sessions. Yin yoga only has a handful of positions, and rather than a focus on movement, it’s more about relaxing into positions and calming your body and mind. Throughout the entire retreat, my body glowed with warmth.

I also did evening meditations which were a perfect way to wind down before bed. Our guide Christina hosted an Energise Your Life workshop too. Although she gave us great advice, I think what I enjoyed most was just listening to her calming voice and having time to think. Her words often gave rise to ideas and thoughts, and these led me to places in my mind which I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

The food was meticulously prepared plant-based wholefoods which burst with flavours. There was always water, tea, coffee and fruit for you whenever you wanted it. There was the main hub which had couches and a fireplace. When in the hub, using devices is discouraged. This created a lovely atmosphere. It was incredibly nice to find yourself amongst a group of people who weren’t on devices, and instead just read books, drew and chattered away quietly.

I must say, my favourite thing about the entire retreat was always being able to wear my tiny, loose fitting footy shorts. I didn’t take them off for the whole retreat, and while some may think this unclean, I think it’s a perfect example of superior comfort.

If you want this kind of relaxation and comfort, contact Billabong Retreat at https://www.billabongretreat.com.au/.