Earlier this month we wrote about the importance of regulating our nervous systems and being able to slow down. Often this is easier said than done, and we can delay the body’s screams to do this, perhaps thinking, ironically, that there is not enough time.
Billabong Eco Nature Retreat, although technically in Sydney, feels very far away from the usual hustle and bustle of city life and the perfect place to contemplate the importance of taking care of ourselves and preventing burn out and other stress related consequences. Even going for a day or two can remind us of the need for balance, to engage in mindfulness practices and provide much needed respite.
The focus at Billabong Retreat is on simplicity, tranquility and serenity, creating space for reflection and an opportunity to slow our (mostly) over activated nervous systems. When our lives consist of prolonged stress, we push our minds and bodies to their limits and beyond, ultimately having a flow on effect to all the systems of the body.
We loved the holistic approach offered by Billabong, encompassing not only highly nutritious and delicious vegetarian food prepared by talented chefs, an invigorating magnesium salt pool, yoga and meditation sessions, but also an invitation to connect with nature, connect with others, and importantly, connect with ourselves. Billabong Retreat helps create the conditions for us to restore and heal.
The accommodation, comfortable tree houses, are ecologically designed and environmentally sensitive. We went to sleep in total darkness, no artificial light or late night stimulation of television, drifting off to sleep to a symphony of cicadas and other nocturnal inhabitants of the bush surrounding us.
Whilst access to wifi is not offered and use of digital devices is discouraged, it is not banned or impossible. This provides an opportunity to be mindful about the way we use all forms of technology and the way we have become accustomed to instant contact. We can certainly be guilty of overusing our phones (checking Instagram a little too often…) yet we found it surprisingly liberating to let go of this, to be fully present to where we were, the people we were with and to our experience in that moment.
So, to give you a snapshot of our Billabong Retreat highlights, we will take you through our day…
After a good night’s sleep, we started our day with an hour long dynamic yoga session, held in a studio overlooking the beautiful nature setting, a perfect spot to set an intention for the day. This was followed by a clean and nourishing breakfast of berry chia pudding, greek yoghurt with cinnamon, a drizzle of local honey and a side of buckwheat and coconut pancakes.
We then spent a few hours exploring our surroundings, walking to the billabong, lined with flowering lotus, meeting a few local residents (very cute swamp wallabies) and spending some time in the sublimely peaceful yoga/meditation studio overlooking the reflections in the mirror-like billabong.
Before lunch we spent time reading by the magnesium salt pool, soaking up the summer sun and cooling off in the stunning aqua blue water. We were told that you need to spend 15 minutes in the water to experience the benefits of the magnesium salts, so we very happily obliged.
By 12.30pm we headed to the common area, very excitedly waiting to see what the chefs had prepared for lunch. All the food we had at the retreat was delicious but this lunch was definitely our highlight meal. It was a spread of Indian inspired dishes, served buffet style, which included a warming turmeric dahl with raita, spicy roast vegetables and biodynamic brown rice that had been soaked overnight in filtered water and apple cider vinegar, allowing a slight fermentation to assist with digestibility. Hands down the tastiest rice we’ve ever had and a tip we have taken home with us.
To top off our already indulgent day, we then headed to the wellbeing centre where we were treated to hot stone massages. We felt so relaxed after the treatment that we had to have a little nap in the common area, listening to the delightful and soothing sounds of live pan flutes performed by Enrique.
By this time, barely 24 hours in, we were already feeling the restorative benefits, simultaneously feeling energised and excited, rather than overwhelmed, about our many projects for the year.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the Billabong Retreat and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to escape city life, connect with nature and enjoy some ‘me’ time in a beautiful and incredibly peaceful setting.