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.
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.
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.
The treatment menu at the delectable Daintree Ecolodge and Spa, set within the wilderness of the world's oldest rainforest in Tropical North Queensland, was developed out of respect and with approval of the elders of the local Kuku Yalanji tribe. Using 100 per cent natural ingredients, the spa creates a healing experience in harmony with nature. The signature treatment, called Walbul-Walbul (meaning 'butterfly'), incorporates the contrasting sensations of oil and desert salts, and uses exclusive Australian indigenous products and massage techniques not found anywhere else across the globe. Relax under the canopy of the rustling rainforest and unwind with the extensive spa menu.
Wade into the healing waters of Victoria's spa country (home to 141 mineral springs) at Hepburn Bathhouse and 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.
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.
Just three hours south of Western Australia’s famous Margaret River is the town of Yallingup, home to the stunning Injidup Spa Retreat. The retreat features ten adult-only villas, offering the perfect getaway to recharge and reconnect. As well as a gourmet breakfast hamper on arrival, each villa has a private plunge pool and views overlooking the ocean. During your stay, participate in private yoga classes, indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments and enjoy the serenity on the expansive outdoor balcony.
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.