As the dawn turns into day, a group quietly gathers on the expansive green lawn, their bodies flowing gently with Qi Gong movements. Wallabies graze in the nearby garden, unperturbed by their presence. Soon, sunrise spills across the hill, illuminating the surrounding rainforest and the ocean beyond.
This is a typical morning at the award-winning Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. Hidden in the Gold Coast Hinterland, it's home to the largest spa in the Southern Hemisphere and renowned for its holistic approach to health, with treatments ranging from Marma point relaxation therapy to equine-assisted meditation. It's a place so revered that even Hugh Jackman was won over during his stay. (He's now a part-owner.)
Gwinganna is just one of the many spas and wellness retreats that can be found on Queensland's Gold Coast. Over the last decade, the region has been quietly establishing itself as the spa capital of Australia—a surprising contrast to its reputation as a bright, bold and buzzy destination.
But whereas a holiday trip to the spa once meant getting a lick of paint on your toenails or soaking in a hot pool, Australia's health and wellness retreats are deeply immersive experiences. They're not just meant to help you disconnect—they're meant to help you reconnect physically, mentally and spiritually with yourself and your loved ones.
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For example, at the 400-acre Eden Health Retreat in the nearby Currumbin Valley, guests begin their multi-day health and wellness journey at a pace that feels comfortable to them.
Have energy to burn? There's a fitness studio and boxing classes. Need a slower start to your day? Pilates and yoga classes are offered in a brand-new stateof-the-art pavilion. Hungry? Expect deeply nourishing meals, made from seasonal and organic ingredients, much of it grown onsite. Still want a facial? There's no shame in that, and they've got those too. This tailored approach to health and wellness doesn't end at Queensland's border. Just across state lines in New South Wales is Byron Bay's purpose-built Soma. Co-founded in 2019 by Gary Gorrow—an Ayurvedic health coach and mindfulness expert—Soma offers small, curated health retreats focused on igniting deep transformation through Vedic meditation. In addition to guided sessions, guests have access to Soma's striking glass yoga dome, infrared sauna, ice bath, freshwater infinity pool and organic meals. The stunning 10-room property (which you might recognise from Nicole Kidman's Nine Perfect Strangers television series) is also available for private bookings and retreats.
Then there's Victoria's Daylesford and Macedon ranges region. Since the 1800s, tourists have flocked here to soak in the healing waters of the area's 140 natural mineral springs. Today, visitors wanting to round out the springs' benefits can head to Samadhi Spa and Wellness Retreat. Located 90 minutes northwest of Melbourne (with helicopter and chauffeured transfers available), the retreat specialises in RECONNECT AND REJUVENATE 13 bespoke programming that helps guests renew relationships; manage stress, fatigue and burnout; and deal with loss and bereavement. In addition to guided meditation and wellness sessions, guests are served balanced gourmet breakfasts and dinners. The end goal? To help visitors find purposes and inner peace, become more energised and embrace self-care.
At its heart, this is what defines the ethos of Australia's wellness retreats. Health and wellness isn't a quick fix. It's a journey—and one that has the potential to lead to profound changes that will last long after your vacation has ended.