Wellness and self-discovery retreats Down Under

In the hurly-burly world of the 2020s, it can be hard to find time to focus on your wellbeing. There always seems to be something else to deal with first, and self-care never quite makes it to the top of the list. That’s why it can make a lot of sense to force yourself to take time out on a retreat. After all, if the travel and accommodation are booked, there is no putting it off. But where should you go?

Australia is a bucket list destination for any would-be traveler. But if you are looking for a bit of pampering and maybe some self-discovery, it checks all the boxes. There are literally dozens of spas and retreats that make the most of Australia’s natural resources, from its diverse scenery to the ancient wisdom of its First Nation residents. Here, we touch on just a few examples from every corner of Australia.

From tree therapy to hydrotherapy in Western Australia

Perth, on the west coast, represents the first glimpse most of us get of Australia. Drive south along the coast road for three hours and you will enter Western Australia’s immense karri forests. Lining the Margaret River, there is nowhere better to listen to the trees, bathe in the river and connect with nature. 

There are a dozen or more retreats in this area. Injidup Spa Retreat offers adult-only breaks and with just 10 chalets, peace and quiet is assured. The spa offers massage, private yoga classes and other spa treatments. There is also an abundance of local wines.  

Aboriginal wisdom combines with casino fun in the Northern Territory

There is a school of thought that if you want to see the “real” Australia, you need to head north. Questions of reality aside, Darwin certainly has a rough and ready vibe that is closer to the “Crocodile Dundee” Australia than the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne. 

Darwin is the capital of NT, and the Mindil Beach Casino Resort is the place to stay while you are in town. Not a retreat in the traditional sense, but the place is so welcoming that you can’t help but get drawn in. Playing the pokies can definitely be therapeutic, but drag yourself away – you can always act like a true Aussie and try out the Bitcoin casinos to play the pokies and card games on your smartphone when you leave town. 

NT is the perfect place to go off grid, and there are lots of First Nation retreats to try. For example, Lirrwi Tourism’s Dilly Bag Tour for Women is all about bush healing and handling  “women’s business” according to the ancient ways of the Yolngu. These include healing and crying ceremonies. 

For something completely different, you can’t get more away from it all than Bremer Island. No cars, not even any roads, just glamping-style bungalows looking out onto the Arafura Sea, and a small community of Yolngu people, willing to share their wisdom with those who will listen.

More ancient traditions in New South Wales

Sydney has a reputation as Australia’s party capital. But New South Wales is also a part of Australia that is steeped in ancient traditions. Ngaran Ngaran is one of the most famous and long established cultural awakenings initiatives, created to bring enlightenment to both locals and visitors. 

VIDEO: Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness | Discover Aboriginal Experiences | Tourism Australia

Like Western Australia, there is a huge choice of places to go and things to do on retreat in New South Wales. For example, Dwayne Bannon-Harrison has become something of a local legend with his modern approach to ancient practices, and at his “on country retreats” you can learn about everything from medicinal plants to vibration therapy to smoking ceremonies.

Looking for something a little more conventional? How about a rejuvenation spa in tropical surroundings? Gaia Retreat & Spa is set in 20 acres of lush hinterland and is blissfully peaceful. It has star pedigree, too, having been co-founded by the wonderful Olivia Newton-John.

Walk the long walk without distraction on Fraser Island

There’s something extremely therapeutic about just picking them up and putting them down, mile after mile – especially if you can do so without the encumbrance of a back pack. K’gari, also known as Fraser Island, lies off the coast of Queensland and is the largest sand island in the world, stretching for 56 miles. 

On the Fraser Island Great Walk, you will follow in the footsteps of the Butchulla people who have lived here for countless millennia. Don’t be fooled, it might be a sand island, but it’s not all rolling dunes. There is a verdant ecosystem consisting of rainforests and lakes, in an ever changing landscape. 

Fraser Island Hike provides the means to walk it pack-free. They will provide all the essentials you need for the day and set you on your way. Then at the end of the day’s hike, they will be there to greet you, drop off your bags and even set up your camp for the night.

Drop anchor on King Island

Midway between Tasmania and the mainland on the Bass Strait, King Island is a little world of its own. Isolation with all the comforts of home is a tricky brief, but King Island achieves it. Kittawa Lodge offers off-grid living in simple cottages that overlook the sea. The island is famous for its beef, seafood and local cheeses, so with the bounty of its produce on hand you can live like – well, like a monarch. 

After a few days of peace and isolation, you have the choice of heading either to Tasmania itself or back to the mainland. Either direction offers some. Amazing spa experiences, including Harmony Harvest Health Retreat just outside Hobart or Lake House is in Daylesford, famous for its natural mineral springs. The latter is busier, but that’s understandable. The spa is state-of-the-art and offers a mind-boggling variety of wellness treatments and rituals. Where else can you wallow in restorative waters in a spa tub set in the treetops?

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