Inside the Beauty That Is Billabong Retreat

Looking for a wellness retreat that is just a short drive from Sydney but can make you feel like you’re a million miles away from the hustle and bustle? Check out the award-winning Billabong Retreat that allows travelers to connect to nature and nurture their inner peace. By Anita Quade

When looking for a holiday getaway it’s great to know that Sydney has some incredible wellness retreats that can be enjoyed for a day, a weekender or a longer stay. Enter the Billabong Retreat which has been awarded the ‘Best Health & Wellness Retreat’ and ‘Most Unique Accommodation’ at the NSW Tourism Awards.

This glorious nature immersed bolt hole is just 45 minutes drive from Sydney and caters for those looking to soothe their soul with a program of wellness workshops, spa treatments and wholesome food offerings. It is located in Marayla, North West of Sydney and perched on a stunning 12 acres of Australian bushland that is bought to life by the magical sounds of birdsong and a lively billabong at night.

It was designed and built by Paul von Bergen who opened the site in 2010 after moving with his wife
Tory from their tiny Bondi apartment. He reveals his vision when bringing his wellness dream to life. “Our vision was to create somewhere where people could come and reconnect to the nature and life within them and around them. We respect the ancient wisdom and are excited by the modern science. We do not promote any religion and are open to all people of any belief or background. Billabong Retreat is a place to find peace of mind, contentment and discover inner wellness. It is somewhere to rediscover the magic of life and find meaning, connection and purpose. It is a place of heart and kindness.”


While you will want to extend your stay here – the drawcard for busy clients is the retreat welcomes groups of up to 52 people for day retreats with many companies option to take staff for team building
and who are given access to the whole retreat with customised programs. One of the most popular options to revitalise is the weekend retreat with prices starting at $600 for a shared cabin – so it’s
perfect to bring a friend to enjoy the experience.

“Our vision was to create somewhere where people could come and reconnect to the nature and life within them and around them. We respect the ancient wisdom and are excited by the modern science.”


When you hear the word vegan menu, it’s easy to conjure up thoughts of going hungry and feasting on limited produce. This couldn’t be further from the truth as the imaginative dishes are served up in a homely group dining atmosphere. The menu features a rainbow of wholesome goodness that is locally sourced, it is gluten and sugar free and can cater to guests who have allergies.

The food is dished up by passionate chefs including Executive Chef Adam Lord, who says he got the cooking bug from his family. He pays attention to every detail and it’s easy to see he cooks with love. Breakfast options range from eggs and chia porridge, while lunches and dinners include soups, curries and a variety of fresh salads and root vegetables seasoned to perfection! Organic fruit is on offer throughout the day along with afternoon tea snacks such as ginger cake. Without a doubt feasting is one of the most anticipated activities of the day as the scent of slow roasted cuisine wafts through the kitchen.


There are 26 private rooms and cabins which range from 50m2 Deluxe cabins perched high on the hilltop for ultimate privacy and relaxation complete with decadent outdoor baths that can cater for up to three guests to the simple, modern ensuite rooms with balconies overlooking the expansive Billabong. For those opting for a share option the oversized single beds are incredibly comfy with a bathroom and every whim is catered for in a modern take on cabin living. Other options include the Treehouse Ensuite which were newly renovated in January 2023 and offer great water views to the Cottage Share Bath offering twin single beds and a share bathroom and conveniently located beside the pool.


There are plenty of activities on offer at this retreat and guests are encouraged to do as little or as much as they choose from night time meditation classes to open air yoga classes of a morning catering for all levels overlooking the Billabong. There are a variety of retreats offered here ranging from self care and stress release to living mindfully and tips on how to re-energise your life. It’s as simple as checking out their calendar and choosing a program that resonates with your life and the experience you wish to explore.


The ethos here is tread lightly – with the owners honouring a firm commitment to the environment some of their top initiatives centre around reduce, reuse and recycle.

Here are some highlights:

  • Using recycled telegraph poles for doors & windows
  • Recycled timber decks
  • Photovoltaic power
  • Solar hot water
  • Rainwater collection
  • On-site grey water system
  • Avoid single use packaging
  • Recycled paper products


It’s easy to come to the Billabong Retreat with a wellness goal in mind, even if its switching off from your phone for a day. The breathtaking vista plays home to incredible bird life from laughing kookaburras to the nightly hum of croaking frogs you can feel it’s a special place. Taking an early morning walk around the glassy billabong stills the mind and the breathtaking fresh air soothes the lungs. There is a stunning meditation room that lets the sun filter in with floor-to-ceiling windows and the open air yoga pavilion on the edge of the Billabong provides an unforgettable yoga experience. Days can be spent lounging on the comfy couches catching up on your favourite read, swinging in the hammock or gazing at the fireplace on the balcony in the cooler months. Guests can also indulge in spa treatments ranging from massages and facials to healing Reiki.

Time seems to go incredibly quickly just as you have found your off switch, its time to pack the car for the short trip home. It’s a peace of mind to know that being just a short drive from Sydney local residents have the convenient option to return for a refresh whenever they choose.

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2024 print issue of Professional Beauty.

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