What’s It Like At The Billabong Yoga Retreat, Sydney? [Review]

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We all have those moments in life where it all becomes a bit too much, and we need to take a step out of your ordinary lives and find a place of peace and tranquility to work on your mindfulness and soothe your soul.

That’s what the Billabong Yoga Retreat offers. It’s a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the city (though still only a 45 minute drive from Sydney in the Maraylya region) where you can take daily yoga classes, meditation sessions, mindfulness training and stress management, and restore wellness with additional daily workshops.

yoga pavilion on lake surrounded by trees
By the billabong

If you’re looking to become more grounded and calm your mind, soothe your senses, and heal your soul, then this is what it’s like to stay at the Billabong Retreat Sydney.

About The Billabong Retreat, Sydney

The Billabong Retreat Sydney is a hidden gem that was designed and built by the amazing Paul von Bergen, who had an incredible vision of creating a sanctuary where people could come and unwind.

The relaxing retreat is nestled in a secluded bush setting, just a short drive away from Sydney.

It’s hard to believe that such tranquility exists so close to the bustling city!

Paul and Tory von Bergen purchased the land in 2008 and transformed it into a haven of inclusive wellness and serenity.

From yoga and meditation programs to nutritious meals, Billabong Retreat has become a go-to destination for those seeking peace and rejuvenation.

It’s truly a rare treat to experience silence and reconnect with nature at this remarkable retreat.

Our Experience at Billabong Retreat, Sydney

The sun awakens to give light to the bush surrounding the billabong.

The stillness wraps around me as I sit alone in a swinging hammock absorbing the sounds of the billabong pulsating with life: Bushes rustle with scurrying animals, mozzies buzz, lizards and turtles splash into the tea-coloured water, and insects and native Australian birds sing their birdsong demands.

Out here, the kookaburra replaces the rooster and begins its morning call.

kookaburra on ledge
Our resident Kooka

When you sit in silence your ability to observe sharpens and I spy King Kooka on a distant branch. With neck outstretched, wings pulled back, and beak opened wide he sprays a long, drawn out cackle.

The bush guffaws back in loud chorus. He swoops from his branch to continue orchestrating the music of the bush.

Frogs join in with their croaks, the bluebirds warble, and the buzz of the cicadas intensifies with the rising heat. Black wallabies hop around below the trees and blue tongue monitor lizards awaken from their nests.

It’s so hot here. We picked the one weekend to come to Billabong Retreat where the temperatures decided to rise into the forties.

But, I don’t care because I’m in Nirvana.

I went to Billabong Retreat to learn to let go and reconnect with my mind and body.

I arrived with every muscle tightly wired and a mind too busy to take notice how my body speaks. I needed this weekend. A hectic travel and work schedule, a demanding toddler and a baby teething 9 teeth at once had me teetering on the edge.

a wooden sign

I was hesitant to go. My body screamed, “Say yes,” but my mind said, “I’m too busy.”

Plus I was worried I’d be placed under the control of the Health Gestapos. I fully embrace healthy living, but I am constantly struggling to find the work/life balance.

At the moment the scales are too far over into the work side. I knew I could not go to the retreat unless I took my computer to work on some unfinished projects.

I envisioned lectures about how I was not being serious and ruining it for everyone else with my electromagnetic waves. So I snuck out at 5am to sit on the common deck alone tapping away with the sounds of the birds to inspire me.

hammock and lounge chairs on deck with forest views
My little writing and reading retreat corner- bliss!

It was true bliss and something I would consider to be somewhat meditative.

I have a refreshing billabong to swim in and a cooling fan to lie under in the pagoda while strong hands knead deeply into my knotted muscles. An hour long massage is one way to wipe away the stickiness.

As we learned throughout the weekend, meditation is the process of being completely present. When I was quietly working as the sun rose, the world of my crazy mind could not be found. It was all me right there alive enjoying the serenity.

The lectures didn’t come anyway. As soon as I met Paul, our instructor and co-owner of the Billabong Retreat, I relaxed.

He was very into us making the experience what we wanted it to be.

“Relax. If you feel like you need to skip a class, then skip it. If you want to sleep, sleep. If you want to explore, grab a bike and go for a ride, or go for a bushwalk to explore the surrounding bushland. This is your experience.”

And that’s what yoga is. It is about YOU. Your body and mind and how it connects.

No one knows you better than you. We usually don’t tune in because we spend the majority of our day lost in the world of yesterday and tomorrow. We have forgotten how to connect with the present, and yoga is merely the tool to help you return to now- the only place where life exists.

Yoga is more than just about stretching into difficult postures, like the Western interpretation would now have us believe. It is about meditating, relaxing, and tuning into how your body feels.

In today’s society we are so distracted and focused on the outside, we don’t feel enough. We practice too many behaviours that numb us. We run from our pain and it continues to chase us so we numb some more.

As Paul teaches us, “The quickest and best way to deal with your pain is to go into it. Feel it. Only then will it dissolve.”

This I know too well.

man doing yoga
Yoga time with Paul

We begin our days at Billabong with a gentle yoga session, always completing it with time to sit still and focus on our breath, and a final relaxation session. My body never failed to turn heavy and slip into contented sleep.

I slowly noticed my body change from exhaustion to zinging with natural energy. The mediation sessions felt equivalent to the rest of a night’s sleep. Of course eating the right foods and only allowing water and tea to pass my lips helps.

Our meals were wholesome and delicious. Pauls’ wife, Tory helps to create the vegetarian recipes that had us all deafening the birds with our moans of culinary pleasure and refusing to give up a morsel for the kookas that sat patiently on the railings beside us each meal time. Sorry boys no meat on this plate!

Veggie stack with nut mince
Veggie stack with nut mince

Things to Do At Billabong Retreat

Billabong is not just about relaxing at the retreat and then being set off home to get all wound up again. It is all about teaching you how to integrate yoga into your life when you return. Small changes are all that is needed.

1. Yoga & Meditation Classes

Paul taught us an easy 7 minute daily practice in the yoga studio. He has discovered over the years that most people feel they can only manage this amount of time.

“Whatever you can do, but practice every day. Learn how to inhabit your body again. Learn to be still.”

Most people get frustrated with meditation and give up because they can’t deal with the discomfort of sitting still and the inability to control the mind.

Meditation is not about controlling your mind; it is about acceptance and letting go. It is through acceptance that we can allow things to pass by saving our mind from continually being fixated on problems.

Paul thinks the reason most people don’t continue is because they have not found their right path to meditation.

Some people like the stillness, others like the yoga postures, for some it might be a meditative walk through the bush, or like his favourite, chanting.

I did not like the chanting. During one session we had a 4 line chant to repeat 108 times. It is said if you do this chant 108 times every day you will find your way to enlightenment.

I have a long way to go. After about chant 57 my mind began ranting,

“This is ridiculous. I really hate this. This is going on forever. How many more do we have to do? That’s it; I am getting up and walking out. I can’t do this anymore. God I hate the chanting.”

I became tenser and tenser until I finally caught my thought and brought my focus back to my breath and the chant. I remembered to tell myself to just see where it goes without judgement.

“Be equanimous. Notice the feelings, but don’t label them. Let them pass by.”

They passed.

An Inspiring Yoga Teacher

carving on a piece of wood

What I really loved about having Paul as our teacher for the weekend was the fact that he was very real.

He didn’t have a heightened sense of yogi status or ancient wisdom. He was just a dude who changed his life through yoga. Just like we all can.

He assured us he still has bad days and can allow his emotions to affect his sense of peace.

Paul was open to sharing his story: one of loss and troubled times. I felt my head begin to lower with the similar memories I had of mistakes and losses. But the strength of Paul’s story helped me to raise it up.

You can change your life. Science tells us that our brains are very malleable. We have the power to form new habits and create new pathways.

As serendipity would have it, a quote passed by me the other day which reminds me to keep my head up and looking forward.

All that matters is who you are today.

Again we return to the power of now.

hammocks on a pagoda by lake with forest views
The pagoda

2. Spa Treatments

They’ve got it all to help you unwind and relax. Picture this: calming massages, rejuvenating facials, and even reiki sessions to balance your energy.

It’s like stepping into a realm of pure bliss. And here’s the best part, you can schedule your treatments outside of yoga or workshop sessions.

So it’s the perfect way to add a little extra pampering to your retreat experience.

Trust me, after a day of meditation and self-care, a spa treatment at Billabong Retreat is just what the doctor ordered.

3. Cooking Classes

Billabong Retreat Sydney also offers some amazing cooking classes that you’re gonna love.

Imagine learning to whip up delicious and healthy meals while surrounded by the serene beauty of nature.

It’s like a culinary adventure combined with a retreat experience.

From mastering plant-based dishes to exploring new flavors and techniques, these cooking classes have got it all.

Plus, you’ll get to indulge in the mouthwatering creations you prepare.

4. Daily Themed Workshops

There are also a variety of programs of different durations that you can take part in, not just yoga and meditation.

From mindfulness essentials to living with purpose, to art workshops, they cover it all.

You’ll get to learn and explore new techniques, ideas, and practices that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

These workshops are included in your retreat package, along with accommodation, daily yoga, delicious meals, and even an evening meditation.

5. Bike Rides

If you’re looking for more adventure retreat experiences, then you can also get out and explore the lish natural surroundings.

Picture this: pedaling through the beautiful Australian bushland, feeling the breeze on your face, and immersing yourself in nature’s tranquility. Take part in one of the bike rides at Billabong and you’ll discover a new favorite hobby.

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get some exercise and connect with nature.

6. Private Consultations

Billabong Retreat Sydney offers private consultations, where you can get personalized advice and guidance in yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and even hypnotherapy, naturopathy, and kinesiology.

These consultations are done in a private room, so you can feel comfortable and open up about anything.

Plus, they prioritize your confidentiality, so you can freely discuss your needs and goals.

Facilities at Billabong Retreat Sydney

sitting area in yoga retreat


When it comes to where you sleep at night, they’ve got it all – from cozy double rooms with ensuite bathrooms to simple yet comfortable twin single beds.

And guess what? Air conditioning is included, so you’ll stay cool even on hot days.

Oh, and don’t worry about packing your linen and towels because they’ve got you covered.

Plus, some rooms even have a private balcony where you can soak up the sunsets.

And here’s a cool bonus: they use solar hot water and some rooms even have an outdoor bath for the ultimate relaxation.


Their dining experience is out of this world. From tasty snacks to gourmet dishes, they’ve got it all covered.

The chefs here are culinary wizards, whipping up mouthwatering meals using organic wholefoods.

And the best part? They’re super passionate about nutrition, so you can indulge guilt-free.

Every bite is a burst of flavor and nourishment. And if you’re looking for longer stays, there are more deluxe cabins for long-term guests.

House Cinema

They’ve got a super cool house cinema that will keep you entertained when not doing retreat programs.

Whether you’re into blockbusters or indie gems, this cinema has got you covered.

It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of yoga and meditation.

Final Thoughts

While I had no lightning bolt moments of transformation during the weekend, I certainly left Billabong Retreat a different person. The changes were subtle, but I could feel the strength and softness of them.

On a wooden plaque nailed to a tree, the words Namaste bid me farewell as I drove out of the gate.

I felt Billabong Retreat had indeed honoured my spirit.

More importantly, I felt I had finally learned the power of honouring myself.

Disclaimer: I stayed as a guest of the Billabong Retreat. If you would like to learn more about attending a retreat then click here. It’s only 45 mins from Sydney.

More Retreats in Australia

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Have you honoured your spirit at a yoga retreat before? Would you like to? Let us know in the comments.

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