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  • Shelley Dark


(all photos in this post courtesy of Gwinganna Health Retreat)

Get ready. Tomorrow I am taking you to Gwinganna.

When my husband John asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, I said I wasn’t telling him until he told me what he wanted. That never happens, ever. During continuing discussions I did mention Gwinganna. He had no idea what or where that was. I told him it’s a place where you can have massages and relax. He thought it sounded incredibly self-indulgent. Which I suppose it is. A few days later, he said, ‘Have you done anything about that massage place yet?' I said I hadn’t. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘if you don’t do anything about it, I’m just going to have to go and buy you diamonds or something.’ What a funny (and untrue) fallback position! Every time I thought about it that day, I laughed out loud. And I booked a 5-day Wellness Retreat at Gwinganna.

So I'm totally independent and self-funded (thanks darling husband). You can be sure that my opinions of this experience, and all my other travel experiences, are totally independent of any commercial interests.

The website says it’s a Lifestyle Retreat, whatever that means. Glamour resort? Spartan health boot camp? Last year in the World Travel Awards it won the award for Australia’s Best Spa Resort and also the Best Global Luxury Destination Spa. Oh yes. That's for me.

I think that high-powered business people go there if they’re feeling stressed by work, others if they're having health problems, relationship problems, personal crises. Others totally for self indulgence. Blush. I wonder if I have enough problems for it. I hope they’re not going to sit me down and look deep into my eyes and say, ‘Now little lady what’s troubling you?’ I might have to make things up.

No I’m being silly. It must be fabulous. Some even say life-changing. And I do need to stop living life as if I’ve just had 10 cups of coffee with my eyes zinging around in their sockets like a cartoon character. I want to keep doing what I do, but manage it better. A massage or two should help the process.

I'm straight down the line conventional medicine rather than alternate, so I hope there’s not too much health evangelism. I’m just a teeny bit tired of hearing buzzwords like organic, toxins, cleansing. Makes the human body sound more like a toxic chemical factory than a beautiful piece of machinery. Hope the approach is evidence-based science. I’m trying to keep an open mind.

At Gwinganna I think you do lots of busy stuff in the mornings. Like tai-chi, and hiking. I hope there’s no abseiling. I don’t like abseiling. I haven't done it, but I just know it. I read somewhere about an equine experience where I guess you talk to a horse. I think I"ll skip that one. I imagine there will be yoga too.

Then in the afternoons, there’s Dreamtime. It’s a world class spa, so there must be lots of fabulous ‘treatments’. I’m thinking massages, facials, head rubs. I don’t want any punishing stuff. I would prefer no colonic irrigation or body polishing (potential for pain).. I’m not totally sure what remedial massage is, but I think it means pushing a finger hard into a muscle to squealing point. And I don't like steam/saunas. So I don’t want any of those either.

An email from Gwinganna suggested a treatment called ‘The Goddess is Dancing’. It’s a massage meant to get your inner goddess dancing. That sounds better. I think she’s ready to boogie.

Apparently the food is really good. You can’t have coffee or alcohol and I’ve been working on that. Gwinganna very kindly sent me these promotional photos to use ahead of time. The coconut prawns and chocolate tart (above) look pretty good don't they? By 8am I'm usually gnawing my arm off craving my daily caffeine fix, but I haven’t had a coffee for the last 3 days. It’s given me a headache but that’s better than having a headache at Gwinganna. I thought I’d give up alcohol too (2-glass-a-day-girl) starting three days ago but that hasn’t worked. I did think about taking a bottle in my bag (forbidden), but then I thought how silly that would be. I might as well just stay at home.

I wrote to the Gwinganna office telling them I’d be writing a travelogue about my experience, asking if I may take photos while I’m there, that I wouldn’t take photos of other guests and I’d be discreet. They said it would be ok provided I observed their strong preference for no mobiles or other devices being obvious in public, and they very kindly sent me photos to use for promotion of the travelogue ahead of my stay. So all the photos in this post are supplied by and with the kind permission of Gwinganna.

I think I’ll just use my phone. I won’t be taking as many photos for you as I normally do while I’m travelling. You know how I usually see and record everything through my lens! But I know you’ll understand this time.

I am to arrive after 2pm tomorrow. So now I must go to sleep. I want to be fresh for this exciting experience. I’m so glad you are coming with me. Goodnight for now. See you tomorrow buddies!

shelley dark, writer 

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