Bil­l­abong Re­treat

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Escape -

Six hours be­fore I head to Bil­l­abong Re­treat, I ac­ci­den­tally smash my iphone on the un­for­giv­ing con­crete plat­form at Clovelly­ter 10 sec­onds of ther­a­peu­tic swear­ing, I de­cide to take this as a sign, book my de­vice into an Ap­ple store for re­pair and leave it there, banished, for the week­end. It’s not as if the staff at the yoga re­treat, an eco re­sort in Maraylya near the Hawkes­bury River, about an hour’s drive from Sydney CBD, ex­actly en­cour­age the use of phones any­way. Pre-ar­rival notes tell you de­vices aren’t al­lowed in pub­lic ar­eas, there’s no Wi-fi, al­co­hol is “strongly dis­cour­aged”, and if you want to smoke you’ll be do­ing it in the car park.but that’s about as bossy as it gets (read:not very,com­pared with other, more hard­core de­tox re­treats). Ev­ery­thing here is gen­tle and nour­ish­ing, from the yoga classes (the in­struc­tors are very ex­pe­ri­enced, but the skill level is fine for begin­ners), to the mag­ne­sium aqua-ther­apy out­door swimming pool, to the sea­sonal veg­e­tar­ian com­fort food. And rest as­sured, no one will bang on your cabin door to make sure you’re at 7am yoga, al­though given that your evenings will likely con­sist of a re­lax­ing stroll by the bil­l­abong (yes, there is an ac­tual bil­l­abong, scat­tered with pic­turesque lo­tus flow­ers, no less) fol­lowed by an out­door bath in the tub on your deck, get­ting up for some easy flow in the morn­ing won’t be a prob­lem.

The days here fol­low a re­as­sur­ing rhythm: morn­ing yoga, fol­lowed by breakfast (think chia por­ridge or frit­tata and, yes, cof­fee if you want), and a themed work­shop start­ing at 9am (in my case it was mind­ful­ness). At 11am there’s per­sonal time (now’s the mo­ment to swim in the pool, get a fa­cial or mas­sage at the spa, or read in the re­lax­ation hut by the bil­l­abong), fol­lowed by lunch (veg­etable bake and de­li­cious sal­ads), more yoga at 3.30pm (only if you want to), din­ner at 6pm (rata­touille and a salad with av­o­cado and mint dress­ing), and then ei­ther med­i­ta­tion or a movie at 7.30pm. I am liv­ing proof that once you fol­low two days of this sched­ule you won’t know your­self. And you cer­tainly won’t care about your smart­phone. – Clare Maclean

An out­door bath in a Deluxe Cabin. Above right: breakfast.

The ve­ran­dah at Bil­l­abong Re­treat. Left: a Deluxe Cabin.

Tree­top Yoga Room.

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