There’s a quiet corner of my patio where an Aloe Vera plant thrives. Like everything in my garden, it doesn’t receive the attention it should but in spite of that this robust little plant simply can’t be shaken.
The special healing plant has significance for me because it was grown from a small cutting given to me by gardener Shelley Pryor, who has been tending to the lush organic garden and orchid at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, since it first launched 15 years ago.
Shelley, who once told me that she successfully used Aloe Vera to heal multiple snake and spider bites she’s suffered from, is a font of knowledge when it comes to natural medicine to treat ailments. Aloe Vera is the perfect remedy for burns, insect bites or sunburn while dill water helps with indigestion and rosemary stimulates circulation. It’s all part of the rich knowledge about the wonders of mother nature that you bring home with you after a visit to Gwinganna, which is nestled in the Gold Coast hinterland.
During my last stay two years ago, Shelley demonstrated how to cut an Aloe Vera leaf and peel away the thick green skin so you can then take the white fleshy middle part and add it to your water container. Each day you can refill the water container and receive all the benefits from Aloe Vera-infused water.
It was one of many health rituals that I took home from Gwinganna.
Another was the Signature Tea, a gorgeous blend by the Byron Bay Tea Company that includes a subtle taste of lemon myrtle and aniseed myrtle that is particularly calming. One sip of this tea, and I am instantly transported back to Gwinganna where I focused on restoring balance in my life. The tea, along with the Signature Massage Oil ($35 RRP / 50ml ), is available from the online store along with Qi Gong, yoga and stretch videos ($15). For me, they are all ways to reconnect with this beautiful place that for so many of us helped to return us back to good health.
More recently, we’ve been featuring the recipes from the new book A Guide To Gwinganna.
It marks 15 years of Gwinganna’s magical history. I read it from start to finish when I got my hands on it. I was fascinated to learn the stories first-hand from previous owner, Kevin Weldon, current owner Tony de Leede and members of the team past and present including the inspirational Wellness Advisor, and former General Manager Sharon Kolkka. For those who know and love Sharon, she is releasing her debut book How To Be Well, A Handbook For Women (Simon and Schuster) on March 30. In the book, Sharon and co-author Dr Karen Coates follow a five-pillared approach to wellness to empower you to lead your best life, and it certainly promises to be full of their wisdom on life.
Similarly, A Guide To Gwinganna provides useful lifestyle tips including nutritional, gardening and other advice which enables you to embrace healthier habits and integrate them into your life back home. Simply start by following their food philosophy of the SLOW food principle – eating Seasonal, Local, Organic, Wholefoods and choose ingredients with low human intervention. The book also outlines the benefits of following a detox programme and a vegan eating plan, plus sensational easy to make recipes.
My favourites are the carrot, ginger and lime turmeric tonic (see below) and for those moments you need a sweet fix, the hazelnut and fig superfood balls are also hard to go past. But it’s the colourful rainbow salads that prove the winners because it’s so easy to resort to a default salad when there’s so much creativity and goodness you can pull together in just one salad.
So, while I may not be able to regularly visit Gwinganna, I can easily turn my hand to making their grilled asparagus salad with oranges, rocket and dukkah, wash it down with a revitalising ginger tonic or Aloe Vera-infused water and even practice Qi Gong in the morning’s dappled light.
It’s a joy to know that any one of these small things can take me back to the place that conjures up so many positive memories for me.
Carrot, ginger and lime turmeric tonic recipe
1 litre filtered water
2 medium carrots, grated
2 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3-4 limes, juiced
1 tbsp raw honey (optional)
Place water, carrots, ginger and turmeric in a pot, bring to a simmer, then turn off
heat and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain tonic.
Finish with the lime juice and honey and serve in mugs while warm.
Can be stored ( strained ) in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat gently to serve.
NOTES Healing, warming and comforting this simple tonic is easy to make and ideal for those days when you need a boost or when its chilly outside.
This recipe is from A Guide To Gwinganna, which is available here.