6 Places To Zen Out In The Southern Highlands
Escape the busyness of life and breeeeeeeathe.....
After the stresses and strains of 2020 and 2021 (so far), most of us need more ‘me’ time than usual, right? Time to just relax. Or meditate. Or reconnect with ourselves. Get back to nature. Or just do..... well, nothing!
The gorgeous Highlands has a bounty of beautiful places to escape to, for chilling out and taking a breather. Whether you love to be pampered, go totally zen and spiritual, or love the masterful healing effects of nature, there’s a special place for you right here. Here’s a few local recommendations to get you started on your much needed journey to relaxation.
1 // Sunnataram Forest Monastery, Bundanoon
Set in among the gorgeous Morton National Park, Sunnataram Forest Monastery is an active Theravada Buddhist monastery in the Thai forest tradition. While it’s still recovering from the 2019/2020 bushfires, its calm and relaxed vibes remain. Visit Sunnataram to meditate and reflect – it provides the perfect opportunity to transport yourself to another time and place – the wisdom traditions will never let you down. With this in mind, it’s super-important to demonstrate the utmost respect to the monks and their practice. It’s only open on Sundays. From 10am-11am, there is a guided meditation and Dhamma talk . At 11am-12pm, lunch offering to monks and for all. Then at 1pm-3pm, help the monks tend to the gardens and monastery. If you love it there, then sign up for a retreat or attend some classes and workshops to learn more about Buddhism and meditation.
A hidden jewel of a retreat tucked away in a beautiful part of the world.
Image credit: Kim McSweeney
2 // Quest for Life, Bundanoon
The beautiful Quest for Life centre provides a healing oasis for whatever ails you. Known for its transformational retreats, programs and workshops, Quest is located on nine acres of gorgeous grounds, and also offers one-day programs: bookings are absolutely essential. If you get a chance to stay at Quest for Life, make sure you take the opportunity to walk its labyrinth, derived from an ancient practice that encourages deep insight and awareness.
3 // Belmore Falls, Robertson
Belmore Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Southern Highlands. Two-tiered and dramatic, set in a stunning valley, this is a great spot that doesn’t get overpopulated with visitors during the week. Rug up in a warm and snuggly jacket, find a private sit spot, and watch the water cascade against the mountainside. A great place to meditate, daydream, or just zone out from the world. The water can fall at a super-rapid pace, especially after rain, and visitors aren’t allowed to trek to the bottom of the falls anymore. No matter, just spend your time soaking up the power and majesty of nature from the top!
How to get there
From Robertson, turn into Meryla Street and then right into South Street, then left onto Belmore Falls Road. If you’re travelling from Fitzroy Falls, turn left into Myra Vale Road, then right onto Belmore Falls Road.
4 // Nellies Glen and the Blue Pool, Robertson
Sure, the weather is starting to cool down, but if you snuggle up in warm winter woollies, you can find yourself a magical sit spot to meditate, or get captivated by the beautiful trickling (sometimes fast-paced) waterfall into Blue Pool. Sometimes the waterfall is gentle enough to swim under, and guaranteed to be utterly invigorating and refreshing. Climb up above the waterfall to explore the various rock pools, or hike your way through some of the trails – watch out, though, as the moss gets really slippery! Nellies Glen, which is further around the Walking Track, has long been popular among Southern Highlanders and has started to attract ever-growing numbers of visitors, so visit this special place early or late on weekdays to enjoy genuine quiet time to yourself.
How to get there
From Robertson or Jamberoo, via Jamberoo Mountain Road. Look out for the Carrington Falls sign, turn onto Cloonty Road, then right into the Nellies Glen picnic area.
5 // Springfield Farm, Sheepwash Road, Avoca
Springfield Farm offers the best of everything in its picturesque grounds and surrounds: retreats, yoga, dancing, permaculture, writing, and then some! It’s totally dedicated to all things wellness and connection in exquisitely tasteful and luxurious rooms. And, as its website says, Springfield Farm is the perfect place to “check out of your day-to-day hustle and check in to our little slice of paradise” – what bliss!
6 // Retford Park, Bowral
Retford Park offers an experience like no other, the chance to enjoy a taste of estate living of yesteryear. Gifted to the National Trust by James Fairfax in 2016, it is now open to the public on a monthly basis (check our Event Directory here for all the details and how to book online for timed tickets). If you’re a lover of beauty, nature and art, then Retford Park is your perfect soulful tonic. Guests are invited to bring their own morning tea or lunch to enjoy a picnic on the expertly maintained grounds, in among an array of flowers like peonies, clematis, rhododendrons and camellias. It’s a real treasure trove of beauty and surprises. Look out for stunning sculptures, a tiny garden maze, and take a peek into the incredible Round Yard. There’s even some emus on site, ready to say hello to you.
Once you’ve worked your way through these 6 fab places, try out a few more here!
- Echo Point + Grand Canyon lookouts, Morton National Park, Bundanoon
- Berrima River Walk, Berrima
- Gerringong Falls, Budderoo Nationa lPark, Kangaroo Valley
- Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens, Bowral
- Vejjasala Retreat Centre, Wingello
- Solar Springs, Bundanoon (closed for development in 2021)
- Zen Oasis, 230 Medway Road, Berrima (closed until all Covid restrictions lift)
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