Welcome to Gwinganna.
A haven of tranquillity situated in the lush green Tallebudgera Valley in Queensland. A place where you switch off, embrace every moment of your waking day. A place where you can finally put you and your health at the top of the list.
Designed to remove as many life stresses and saboteurs – yep I banished the mobile phone, didn’t crank up my computer and held back on coffee, feasting instead on delicious organic seasonal produce fresh from the local garden.
It is the perfect place to recalibrate and refocus on your own state of wellness and reconnect with yourself. It allowed me to pause, take stock and resent my health goals.
I was lucky to be there during a weekend of health seminars on heart and brain health.
A respected neurologist Dr Raymond Schwarz and cardiologistDr Jason Kaplan spoke eloquently about a wealth of evidence-based research and the lifestyle interventions we can all employ to live a longer, healthier life.
They heeded the importance of focusing our time and energy on the prevention of disease. The good news is living a longer more vital life is by and large, in our reach providing we make the right lifestyle and food choices.
A common theme was to eat a healthy vegetable rich diet and exercise as well as pay attention to our stress levels which are more harmful than many of us realise. Listening to wiser people than yourself makes you take stock and listen.
All food for thought and staying in the Meditation Suite was the perfect place to sit and ponder my newly acquired knowledge. Set in Gwinganna’s orchard, the suite has a sun bed where you can relax and meditate on a private deck. Inside the light-filled open plan room is well appointed and spacious and the bed is particularly comfortable. It even boasts a huge freestanding bath where I gleaned kangaroos grazing as I took a long soak listening to a guided meditation track provided on the iPod. Really, does it get better than this?
There were other exquisite moments.
For me, it began at the break of day performing the ancient ritual of Qi Gong. Standing in a semi-circle following the lead of our teacher’s slow and graceful movements with the sun rising in the distance over the green carpeted Valley. The gentle yet structured movements of this traditional Chinese art-form enlivens your senses making you alert to the sound of the birds and connecting you with nature. It’s hard to imagine a more breathtaking or invigorating way to start your day.
Next was a gentle guided walk with the fascinating John Palmer – a much-loved character around Gwinganna. A bushman at heart and a gentle giant, he imparts his keen observations about the incredulousness of nature. As we meandered through the countryside and gardens, we glimpsed a koala snuggled up high in the tree tops. Further along, John, the resident botanist and ecologist, mused: “This gum tree is 500 years old. It’s the only one left like this in the valley. They didn’t chop it down because of its gnarly twisted branches. It’s only alive because it was considered too ugly to cut down.” A true irony indeed.
After a breakfast of fresh fruit, granolas and a hot dish, there is a choice of activities which, while not compulsory, I opted for the dance class which is held in a spacious pavilion built from reclaimed timbers with splendid views from every angle. First trick is to feel comfortable enough to abandon your inhibitions, but you are in good company and before long everyone was dancing. I was twirling and laughing like a carefree young girl. It’s not every day we allow our inner child to come out but let me tell you it is joyful.
A smorgasbord of salads and snapper greeted us for lunch. All the meals are based on the principles of SLOW food (Seasonal, Locally produced, Organic and Whole).
The afternoons at Gwinganna is time to kickback and relax. Time to swim, read, or indulge in the many blissful spa treatments, or wellness consultations. From Holistic Kinesiology to Rockupuncture, Hawaiian Body Works and even Equine Therapy; there is an astonishing range to bedazzle you.
Entering the spa is an experience in itself especially if, like me, you are welcomed by the resident peacock. The architect designed spa features an elevated outdoor deck which overlooks an enclosed garden and tall trees from where you are taken to the treatment rooms.
My treatment – the Panacee Rejuvinating Facial Ritual – was sublime. This heavenly experience lasts for almost two hours during which you enjoy a face sculpting massage using the Dermophyt’s deep tissue sound wave machine and the organic anti-ageing Panacee cream from France which contains Edelweiss Extract. My skin felt noticeably soft and plumped.
It was without doubt the best facial I’ve ever experienced and I came away glowing.
There is an impressive number of Ayervedic treatments but new on the menu is Subtle Energies which includes two body scrubs and a body wrap which contains healing ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and tulasi (holy basil) and a Rasayana blend which nourishes the skin. I found myself so relaxed I was drifting in and out of sleep.
Restored, informed about my health and ready to take on the challenges of my daily life, I left Gwinganna feeling totally nourished and nurtured promising myself to return to this magical place again. I have even put in practice much of what I learned, increasing my exercise and eating more vegetables. The joy of Gwinganna lives on even now.
Ecotourism Certified, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is a complete health and wellness escape to help you re-focus on health. This expansive low tech Gold Coast location offers a range of fully inclusive wellness packages with extensive facilities and unique spa services, organic cuisine, diverse activities and wellness education. Look for the native koalas and wallabies around the property and soak up the peaceful surrounds of nature.
Fly to Coolangatta or Brisbane airports, from which transfers are provided for guests.
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, 192 Syndicate Road, Tallebudgera, Queensland. See gwinganna.com, phone 1800 219 272.
Gwinganna’s weekend retreats kick off at 2pm on Friday and finish midway through Sunday lunch.