Revive, refresh, detox or just simply chill out at these outstanding health and wellness retreats around Australia.
By Katrina Lobley
Pop into these top health retreats to feel shipshape again. One has a celebrity co-owner, another includes archery and tennis, and another has a revitalising pool right next to a creek. In some cases the program is about tough love while others take a more gentle approach. Say om.
Embrace the solitude on the Gold Coast
Stay for two days or stretch it out to seven at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland (courtesy transfers are available from Gold Coast Airport). Try the ancient art of qi gong (a form of tai chi) while watching the sun rise over the distant Pacific Ocean. Explore the 16 walking trails or join a dance session before refuelling with an organic lunch. Afternoons are designated as dreamtime: nap, swim or read a book. Stay in a room in a reconstructed Queenslander (an elevated timber house that is a common sight throughout the state) or swan around an open-plan villa with a private plunge pool.
Get fit and be pampered near Byron Bay
Gaia Retreat & Spa, in the lush Byron Bay hinterland of northern New South Wales, comes with a celebrity connection (Grease star, Olivia Newton-John, is a co-founder). The day spa, with 14 treatment rooms and more than 35 healers and therapists, is central to the pampering Gaia experience. After starting the day with yoga, choose from activities that include clay sculpture or Let's Get Physical fitness and boxing. Meals draw on Gaia's own organic garden and, at dinner, guests can even enjoy a glass of organic wine.
Retreat to New South Wales' Southern Highlands
Solar Springs occupies a 1920s guest house in the pretty township of Bundanoon, 150 kilometres (93 miles) south-west of Sydney in the cool climate Southern Highlands (pack warm clothes for winter). Catch up with other guests in the main lounge or retreat to a cosy spot in front of the fireplace in the Quiet Room, with views over rugged Morton National Park. Bushwalks to evocatively named spots such as Fairy Bower and Grand Canyon are part of the daily schedule, along with archery, yoga and tennis.
Soak away your cares in Victoria
Wade into the healing waters of Victoria's spa country (home to 141 mineral springs) at Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. The historic spa, which has been around since 1895, is today a thoroughly modern affair, with communal bathing (swimming costumes are mandatory) in the mineral relaxation pool and salt therapy pool, as well as private tubs in the spa. The complex also includes an outdoor creekside spa pool and a Moroccan-style hammam. The Hepburn area's therapeutic mineral springs are rich with potassium, magnesium, silica and chloride.
Take detoxing to the next level on Kangaroo Island
Head to South Australia's rugged Kangaroo Island (known as Australia's Galapagos) for a complete lifestyle reboot. Kangaroo Island Health Retreat's five day Dynamic Detox program isn't for the faint of heart: only six people at a time with reasonable fitness can undergo the program at the haven overlooking Emu Bay on the island's north coast. Daily activities include beach and country walks of up to 10 kilometres (six miles), while meals include soups and fruit platters.
Unwind near Margaret River
East of Western Australia's famous Margaret River wine region is Bridgetown, home to the KalyaaNa Spa & Wellness Retreat. The exotic name – a Sanskrit word that translates as “the wellbeing of others” – says it all. This peaceful retreat focuses on rejuvenation and relaxation. Guests can indulge in healthy meals such as acai bowls with bee pollen, chia-spiked smoothies, pho, falafel, grilled vegetable stacks and zucchini pasta. Activities include biking, birdwatching, bushwalking and feeding the resident alpacas.
Harmonise near Hobart
At Harmony Harvest Health Retreat, a 30 minute drive south of Hobart in Tasmania, it's possible to check in for just a day's worth of rejuvenation. The one day Relax Retreat program includes healthy meals delivered to your two-storey eco cottage (where a spa bath sits in a striking glass-walled sun room), along with deep tissue massages and a detox mud treatment for two. Stay five nights and treatments include reflexology, an organic facial, chakra healing massage, spiritual consultation and more. An eight day weight loss program is also available.
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