Silky Oaks Lodge, Daintree National Park, Queensland © Luxury Lodges of Australia
Your guide to wellness travel in Australia
From Aboriginal healing to spectacular natural landscapes, Australia is bursting with soothing, nourishing and life-changing wellness experiences.
By Sarah Reid
What does wellness mean to you? Whether you’re looking to harness the rejuvenating power of nature, find stillness at an idyllic yoga retreat or embark on a life-affirming solo adventure, there is a smorgasbord of unique wellness experiences to choose from in Australia. Wellness might also mean the uplifting sensation you get when supporting communities in need, or when you meet new people on your travels. Whatever you’re seeking, read on for a snapshot of Australia’s top wellness experiences that’ll make you feel better.
Find peace in Australia’s nature
From reducing stress to lowering blood pressure, there’s no doubt that spending time in nature is good for you. And in Australia you don’t need to travel far to find a healing landscape or to ground yourself in nature.
If tropical rainforests are your tonic, make a beeline to Cairns to immerse yourself in the relaxing UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland. If you’re looking for a rainbow of colour to boost your mood, head to Western Australia’s Golden Outback between June and November – the wildflowers will be sure to brighten up your day.
Surrounding yourself in nature is one thing, but helping and seeing it recover is another. Consider volunteer work to support wildlife recovery such as planting trees for koalas in Victoria with Echidna Walkabout. Or choose sustainable accommodation that minimises environmental impacts and engages with local communities.
Unwind in a wellness region
Wellness options abound in Australia’s cities, but there are also some great wellness regions dotted around the country. Chief among them is the northern New South Wales coastal town of Byron Bay. Here you can take your pick of healers, yoga studios, infrared saunas and more, while soaking up positive vibes and relaxing on one of Byron’s sandy beaches.
Less than two hours’ drive north-west of Melbourne, the Daylesford area is renowned for its spas, while Western Australia’s Margaret River wine region is a popular setting for wellness retreats of all kinds.
You don’t even have to leave Sydney to get a taste of the wellness scene. Just head to Australia’s most famous beach, Bondi, where outdoor gyms along the beach promenade and trendy yoga studios meet superfood smoothie bars.
Nourish your mind, body and soul
Prefer to nourish your soul with fine food and drinks? You’ve come to the right place. With Australia’s warm climate, clean air and water and healthy soils, you’re assured a wide variety of fresh, wholesome produce all year round. You’ll find an inventive culinary scene in regional areas as well as big cities, with innovative chefs creating delicious, hearty fare while accommodating your dietary preferences. There are also plenty of Australian native superfoods to seek out on your travels.
If you’re visiting South Australia, you can indulge your palate and your sense of adventure on a gourmet Epicurean Way road trip, which takes you through four of Australia’s premier wine regions. You’ll start with a visit to the McLaren Vale, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the South Australian capital, Adelaide, before heading to the Adelaide Hills wine region, and on to the wineries of the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley.
Stopping by Melbourne? Sample some of the country’s most innovative vegan dishes at Smith & Daughters. Or if you’re planning to spend some time in Byron Bay, dine on delicious home-grown produce at Three Blue Ducks, which has four other outposts around the country. No matter where you travel in Australia, a restorative dining experience is never too far away.
Sometimes the best way to recharge is to unplug. Luckily, there’s no lack of scenic spots to enjoy a digital detox in Australia, with plenty of wide-open spaces to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the country’s spectacular nature.
Your options range from castaway glamping on Wilson Island on Queensland’s Southern Great Barrier Reef to traditional camping under the stars in Australia’s vast network of national parks, where mobile ringtones give way to bird calls.
For a little bit of luxury (and maybe even Wi-Fi, if you can’t live without it), consider a stay in a tiny home in a remote country setting, or meet the cows, sheep and more at a family-friendly Aussie farmstay.
There’s nothing like embarking on a solo adventure to help you tune in to your body and mind, or to simply recharge your batteries and focus on your goals. Australia is ideal for solo travellers, whether you fancy exploring alone (perhaps on a road trip such as the stunning Pacific Coast Way, following Queensland’s coast from the Gold Coast to Cairns) or joining a group tour with a company such as Intrepid.
Australia’s cities are also perfectly suited to independent solo travel. Atmospheric street food markets such as Brisbane’s Eat Street and Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Market (late April to late October) are great places to nourish your body with new and exciting local cuisines.
Get active in the great outdoors
From Australia’s breathtaking hiking trails to its powder-coated ski fields, there’s no lack of opportunities to get your endorphins pumping. For an active experience to remember, consider signing up for one of the eco-luxury guided hikes that form part of the Great Walks of Australia collection.
Make the most of Australia’s 60,000 kilometres (37,300 miles) of stunning coastline and more than 4,000 fish species with a meditative fishing expedition – feelings of relaxation are guaranteed.
There are also plenty of world-ranked golf courses across the country where you can forget about your worries and spend the day tackling 18 holes against stunning backdrops; from urban greens a short drive from a city centre to rugged links on Tasmania’s wild north-east coast.
Recharge at a wellness retreat
Combine yoga practices with peaceful bushland and scenic views at one of the country’s most beautiful wellness and yoga retreats. With delicious healthy meals, healing therapies, expert talks and much more, these retreats offer a sanctuary where you can recalibrate in a tranquil, low-stress environment. And Australia is home to some of the world’s best. Tucked up in the lush Gold Coast hinterland, Gwinganna and Eden combine luxury with a range of therapies (from meditation to decadent spa treatments), while Billabong Retreat, north-west of Sydney, is well-known for its yoga programs.
Indulge in a spa
From five-star pampering palaces to natural thermal springs, Australia’s spa game is strong. Seek out spas using products by Australian brand Li’Tya for a wellness experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Li’Tya draws on Aboriginal plant knowledge to feature potent native Australian botanicals that are incredibly rich in antioxidants and exfoliating fruit acids.
Try a Li’Tya Yirri facial, which uses Tasmanian kelp, wild rosella and old man weed extract to give your skin a radiant boost, at The Darling Spa at Sydney’s The Star hotel and casino. Li’Tya spa treatments are also available at the Bodhi J spa at Westin Perth and independent spas across the country.
If hot springs are more your thing, reserve a day to luxuriate in the thermal waters of the stylish Peninsula Hot Springs spa complex on the Mornington Peninsula, an easy day-trip south of Melbourne. Or take a road trip to outback South Australia to take a dip in the ancient Witjira-Dalhousie Springs, which are a balmy 38°C to 43°C (98°F to 109°F) year-round.
Learn about Aboriginal healing
Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been practising natural wellness therapies for thousands of years. Take a tour with an Aboriginal guide and you will be astounded to discover there is a medicinal purpose for almost every plant and tree root on their land. You’ll also gain fascinating insights into how deeply connected Aboriginal communities are with the natural environment.
Learn more about the beneficial properties of native plants and the wide variety of “bush tucker” – foraged food – on a free Aboriginal-guided garden walk at Ayers Rock Resort in Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre.
Headed to Perth? Consider signing up for a tour of the extensive botanic plantings at the inner-city Kings Park with an Aboriginal Traditional Owner to learn the wellness secrets of the local Nyungar Aboriginal people.
Embrace a wellness festival
Health and wellness gurus from home and abroad unite at numerous festivals throughout the year. They’re a great place to meet like-minded people and discover practices you can incorporate into your own self-improvement routine. Soak up the alternative vibes at the MindBodySpirit Festival, Australia’s largest health, wellbeing and natural therapies event. It’s held annually in Sydney (in May) and Brisbane (in February), and twice a year in Melbourne (in June and November).
Just north of Brisbane, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is the home of the annual Conscious Life Holistic Wellness Festival. This festival, held in May each year, focuses on empowering positive change through self-awareness practices and promoting holistic health.