Behind The Scenes Of Running A Health Retreat- the beautiful tale of Billabong!

I had the pleasure of visiting Billabong Health Retreat based just an hour out of Sydney a few months back and had the most amazingly restorative stay.

Daily Yoga, whole food vegetarian meals, meditation, bush land, friendly staff and eco-friendly facilities made for the perfect little Sydney escape! After my stay I was really keen to chat to Paul & Tory, the pair responsible for creating and running this blissful oasis! They have been able to share with us the in’s and out’s of the journey!


Billabong Retreat

Paul & Tory

Behind The Scenes Of Running A Health Retreat:

1) Tell us more about the idea behind Billabong Retreat?

Our vision was to create somewhere where people could come and reconnect to the nature and life within them and around them. We respect the ancient wisdom and are excited by the modern science. We do not promote any religion and are open to all people of any belief or background.
Billabong Retreat is a place to find peace of mind, contentment and discover inner wellness. It is somewhere to rediscover the magic of life and find meaning, connection and purpose. It is a place of heart and kindness.


2) Had Billabong been a long term dream in the making? What initially inspired you to start up this beautiful place?

Billabong Retreat is the creation of Paul & Tory von Bergen who purchased the land in 2008 and moved from their small 70m2 unit in Bondi to 44,000m2 of pristine Australian bush! Paul had been working in corporate marketing and after a business failure had found himself living in Thailand next to a yoga and health retreat and found his life transformed. Tory had been travelling around Australia in a combi painting abstract landscapes of the outback bush. They met at a yoga class in Bondi, hooked up, produced twin boys, put on Earth Festival and then Paul’s mum needlessly died. This triggered Paul & Tory to delay no further, put fear aside and follow their dreams. They bought Billabong shortly after.


3) What were the most challenging aspects when initially starting up the retreat?

After an extremely challenging process in securing approval, Paul designed and owner built the retreat himself, mainly due to lack of finances. It opened in 2010 with Tory cooking all the food and Paul teaching all the yoga and trying to look after the twins and their new arrival Jade in-between. It has grown a little since then.


4) The food served while I was staying was utterly amazing!! Tell us more about Billabongs food philosophy?

We serve vegetarian food not because we promote vegetarianism, but because we believe on average people don’t eat enough vegetables and we want to inspire our guests to eat more by showing them how amazing and yummy they can be! All of our food applies the SLOW principles, Season, Local, Organic and Wholefoods.


Billabong Retreat


5) I loved how Billabong was an eco- friendly retreat! What environmental practices do you have in place at Billabong and why do you feel these are so important?

We are a fully certified eco retreat. We built the retreat and operate the retreat with our environmental impact top of mind. Some of our achievements include:
• Using recycled telegraph poles for doors & windows
• Recycled timber decks
• Photovoltaic power
• Solar hot water
• Rainwater collection
• On-site grey water system
• Avoid single use packaging
• Recycled paper products
We realise we can always do more and operate with a view of continuous improvement. We believe it is important to look after the nature around us as well as the nature within us.


6) What would you say are the ongoing ‘secret ingredients’ behind the scenes that helped Billabong be the talked about, successful eco-retreat it is today?

Very hard work, patience, drive and a heart felt knowledge that we were creating something good!


Thank you for sharing with us at BareVitality Tory and Paul!


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