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A Day By The Billabong

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Billabong Retreat for a few days for a little reset. Just one hour from the city, Billabong is an incredibly convenient escape for a day or two or even one week. Fortunately, I was there for the meditation program, which really allowed me to tap back into my practice, as I have let it slide recently (I go in and out of phases, yoga is my constant :)).

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I thought it would be a good idea to share what a typical day was like, as I have to say, my expectations were exceeded. It was better than the impression I received from the website – it was pure and blissful and very authentic. The staff there have a genuine enthusiasm not only for health and reconnecting with yourself but for ensuring you have the best experience possible. So let me share with you a day by the Billabong…

Morning:

Optional yoga was at 7am so I would wake up around 6:15am to the sounds of nature outside my balcony and natural light streaming through (the best way to wake up, don’t you think?). We had relaxing music available in the rooms so I would put that on, make a lemon and ginger tea and slowly get ready. No reception made checking my phone impossible, another small luxury.

Class would run from 7-8:00am in the morning, and was a more invigorating flow than the evening, but still available to all-levels and very relaxing. The studio is spacious, light-filled and gorgeous! All mats and yoga equipment were there and set up for you. Basia was a beautiful teacher and I loved the way she intertwined philosophy into our practice.

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Breakfast was straight after at 8am, and was always gluten-free and vegetarian. I of course got the vegan option, which wasn’t hard to do – basically no eggs and avoid the yoghurt. Think coconut milk chia puddings with lemon curd and berries, buckwheat pancakes, almond milk oatmeal with berry coulis and granola and/or roast vegetables.

Breakfast by the billabong with @nastasiamarj Vegan pancakes & lemon mousse chia puddings @billabongretreat @straightup_pr

Next, there was a meditation class at 9am for one hour. We were taught different methods of meditation throughout the few days, and got to try 2-3 each class.

After this, it was time to hit the pool – which was actually a magnesium pool!! Magnesium is great for achy muscles and joints, skin conditions and a general feeling of relaxation. It was very warm when I was there so reading by the pool and taking a few dips was just what I needed.

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Another day I decided to explore, and so I went on a 1.5-2 hour walk around the area. I saw some amazing properties, endless green fields, gorgeous trees and wildlife. Beautiful birds and farm animals and even a goanna up a tree which was the size of me!

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Afternoon:

Lunch time was 12:30pm and was again, another incredibly tasty delight. Many of the guests were not vegetarian and kept gushing about how yummy the food was. I feel like it definitely motivated them to eat healthier and try more meatless meals. This made me so happy! A bunch of different salads such as an avocado Greek salad, beetroot quinoa salad, roast pumpkin with black sesame were paired with dairy-free sauces like tahini, pesto or vegan aioli and often there was a frittata to accompany. I was made a special eggless frittata or loaf to replace, which was absolutely divine! I left very satisfied! There was also live music (guitar and vocals) on one of the days too.

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You can book spa and beauty treatments at Billabong, so I had a 60 minute massage, which was heavenly. I felt a little floaty after!

Afterward, it was back to my book or a wander around the Billabong. There is a gorgeous reading and sitting lounge area if you don’t want to read by the pool.

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They provide afternoon tea too, which was either a raw brownie or some bliss balls!!

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I grabbed one and would then head back to my room to run a bath in the outdoor tub on my balcony (I had the deluxe cabin). It was very private and overlooked the billabong. I stayed in here for over an hour reading with a tea. Bliss!

It's about to go down! Epsom salts, tea, book, outdoor tub with a treetop view..... Tranquil sound effects (ie birds) & more of the view on my Insta-story!! @billabongretreat

Evening:

There was an afternoon yoga class from 3:30-5pm…. A very gentle practice that really wound you down and prepared you for a quiet evening. People would then go shower or continue reading, or even colour-in a mandala (a form of meditation we were taught) before dinnertime at 6pm.

Dinner was either similar to lunch – a plethora of colourful salads and vegetables with a baked loaf – or it was a delicious vegetable curry and dahl dish. And don’t worry, they do provide desert! I had an incredible apple crumble one night and avocado mousse the other 🙂

All the colours of the rainbow - gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan .... @billabongretreat you get me ☺️ ps you gotta check out at my Insta story I saw a gigantic goanna today!!!!!!!

After this, there was a final meditation class for the day, before we would head back to our rooms and get ready for bed. I brought my dry brush with me, and some natural beauty products to have a little spa session of my own. Then, I would curl up in bed, read and fall asleep (very easily) to the frogs. You can imagine after a day like that, that sleep was very peaceful! It was so nice to get to sleep a little earlier than usual – no TV, internet, and social distractions – and I made a commitment to myself to carry this through when I came home!

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Thank you Billabong Retreat for a most restful, tasty, and rejuvenating experience! I will definitely be back. I highly recommend this spot for a quick getaway if you live in Sydney, or an extended stay if you are from afar. As I said, it is extremely authentic and has been curated with health, education and self-love in mind. There were people from all walks of life there and they all left talking about when they would be booking back in. A good sign!

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How to cater a clean camping trip

Need a break? Fresh air? Moments of solitude and stillness? You truly don’t need to go miles away to feel very far away from “it all”. Over the weekend, my lovely friend Sam (yes, we are both Sam’s!) and I packed up our things, loaded her car and headed just 1.5 hours away to Cattai National Park. It was spectacular! As soon as you enter, your phone reception dwindles, you hear the sounds of lyrebirds and rustling trees, you breathe in the fresh air and take in the gorgeous views of the Hawkesbury. Not to mention coming face to face with Kangaroo’s! There is something about being surrounded by tree’s and the autumn leaves without a building in sight, you just feel calmer.

To compliment a relaxing weekend away resting mind and body, it only seems fit that you would support your detox with delicious, healthy food. Without a fridge and all the utensils, it can seem a little daunting. Must we resort to drive through food on the way? Sausages on the BBQ? Soggy sandwiches? No, no, NO! That would never do for two nutritionists in the making! We hustled the night before and came up with a beautiful menu that served us very well for the weekend. We ate like queens!

So to take the pressure off you, and to encourage you to plan a camping getaway yourselves, I thought I would share some good ideas to take with you on a trip. These can be applied to any getaway you have in mind, really. Overall, it is important to take into consideration how long your stay is to work out how much you need to bring, and structure when you are going to eat what by working out what keeps the best. For a 1-3 night stay, these options will all work perfectly!

Helpful supplies:

  • A gas stove with a large pot (helpful for heating up food, teas etc)
  • Esky/cooler with ice packs (Definitely need)
  • A chopping board
  • Bread Knife
  • Paper/plastic bowls, plates, cutlery (or some from home, if you only need a few)
  • lemon squeezer/juicer
  • Glass Tupperware, for storage of the below meals, and/or double as serving bowls
  • Napkins
  • Tea towels
  • Sponge
  • Detergent
  • Hand sanitizer

Menu ideas:

BREAKFAST

  • Green smoothie – e.g. 1 cup water, ½ lemon juice, 3 cups leafy greens of choice, 1 large stalk celery, ½ cup frozen mango, ½ banana, 5 drops vanilla stevia
  • Bircher muesli, soak the oats in coconut water
  • Chia pudding
  • Pre-made muffins
  • Sliced bread with smashed avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Warm breakfast? Bring oats or quinoa, banana, stevia and cinnamon and make a porridge with water on your stove top

LUNCH/DINNER

  • Kale and brussels sprout salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, herbs, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast (this will last well for 2 days as the dressing breaks down the tough raw kale/brussels) with roast sweet potato
  • A whole raw sweet potato, to roast on the fire’s embers, in tin foil (if permitted)
  • Pre-made veggies burgers/patties with salad or roast veggies
  • Bruschetta – bring a loaf of quality bread, avocado, chopped tomatoes, basil, pomegranate, hummus, pesto, antipasto veg etc.
  • Zucchini Lasagne
  • Cooked quinoa with stir-fried veggies, heated up on the stove or eaten cold
  • Vegetable stock soup with lentils, chopped kale and wild rice or millet, heated on the stove
  • Pumpkin soup, heated on stove
  • Tempeh stir-fry, heated on stove

SNACKS

  • Carrots, celery, capsicum, other veggies of choice
  • Hummus, pesto, or dairy-free dip of choice
  • Corn chips/Crackers
  • Seaweed (nori) sheets
  • Olives
  • Fresh fruit that doesn’t require chopping e.g. berries, grapes, apples etc.
  • Bliss balls
  • Vegan chocolate
  • Homemade muffins
  • Raw nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • OR make a platter with all these things for a lunch-time picnic,  like us…

Couldn't have asked for a more perfect weekend, or a more delicious spread with my girl @samantha_elaine_ Grazed on our nutrition platter all day amongst the trees ft. lemon water, Morrocan mint & rose tea, very green fibrous smoothie, matcha raspberry muffins, turmeric truffles, vegan dark choc, fresh fruit & veg, almonds, hummus, corn chips, sourdough.... There really is nothing like a night in nature (with no reception!) to detox mind & soul It has inspired me to encourage you to do the same! Writing up a "how-to camp clean" as we speak Will be up on the blog this week. We most definitely over-catered ! but the good news is, we worked out what works (abundant spreads like this ✔️) and what doesn't (nooo to squishy defrosted frozen slices ). My top tip is the same for a healthy week: #foodprep! And don't fall victim to breaking #healthyhabits you have instilled at home- I still drank my morning lemon water & green smoothie even though I was in the woods See it all on snap: SamiBloom & Sam_Health #veganfeast #overcatered #bestweekend #healthycamping

BEVERAGES

(This is where the stove is handy!)…

  • Filtered water
  • Lemon, for your morning warm lemon water
  • Green smoothie
  • Kombucha
  • Herbal tea
  • Chai tea with almond milk

Make healthy choices prior to your trip so you have plenty of options whilst you are there. This really is an example of food prep setting you up right. Indulge a little! Chances are, you are going to want something sweet around the fire 🙂 so have your dairy-free, refined-sugar-free chocolate, bliss balls or chai tea handy, and enjoy them. Most importantly, embrace your time away and don’t stress about the finer details.

 

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