Inverloch Wellness Retreat Review

Early in September 2019, I took myself on my first yoga and wellness retreat. I’d never done a retreat of any sort before (I don’t think my Yoga Teacher Training counts!) and had no idea what to expect, but in my attitude of opening up myself to new experiences, this seemed like the right thing to do.

It was run by a good friend of mine, Phoebe Malone, another incredible yoga teacher here in Melbourne. Her attitude to these retreats is all about finding balance in your life for the things you enjoy the most. It’s not about deprivation, or forcing yourself to do things you don’t feel like, but to “come as you are, leave who you want to be.”

The idea came to Phoebe while on a hike of Wilson’s Prom with her husband. Wanting to do something more with her yoga teaching, and incorporate her favourite things – wellness, yoga, good food (and wine), and being near the ocean. And so, Inverloch Wellness Retreat was born.

Yoga mats set up for class

The reatreat begins on the Friday afternoon. We’re greeted by Pheobe and her mum, Carol at the door, and ushered inside a beautiful beachside mansion, Sandymount Inverloch, and to our private rooms for the weekend.

I’ve come by myself (so I get the whole bed) but there are options for couples as well. The room is big, yet cosy and I start by unpacking my things for the weekend, and taking note of the giant bathtub for later on…

Our first activity is a group yoga session. It’s a nice way to ease our way into the weekend, working through some foundation asanas (postures) that will help with our other yoga sessions over the coming days. It also helped to stretch out after the drive down.

After yoga, we’re introduced to Stewart and Amy, our chefs for the weekend. They’ve put together the most incredible nibbles board with cheese, fruit, dip, smoked trout and more. They even provided vegan cheese which I took advantage of!

While we’re snacking, Pheoebe runs us through the contents of our goodie bags. A journal to pen our thoughts for the weekend, and beautiful candles and balms from Haven Co. She also tells us that the focus of the weekend is sustainability, and they’ve provided us with a reusable bag and water bottle to help us avoid plastic.

We take part in a written activity about finding the things that are most imporant to us, and taking time to prioritise whatever they may be. While we’re doing that, drinks are served. Locally sourced wine and non-alcoholic drinks are on offer to help us settle in and get chatting with the rest of the group.

Stew and Amy have been hustling away in the kitchen on dinner, and they’re prepared us a roasted portobello mushroom with pearl barley filling, and a fresh red cabbage and fennel salad. We cheers as a group and then the table goes silent as everyone digs in to their meal.

After dinner finishes, the group disperses to their accomodation to rest up. I make myself a giant bubble bath and take a glass of wine with me to settle in…

Dinner was roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Pearl Barley.

We start Saturday morning with a beautiful slow, but strong yoga flow at 7:30am. I should note that these yoga sessions were all optional (much like all activities for the weekend) and nothing is seen as an obligation. It’s special to be in a room with this group of people, breathing and moving through our morning.

Breakfast follows (if you can’t tell already, the food was one of my favourite parts of this weekend!) with homemade granola, toast, fresh fruit and coffee – yes, coffee is also not a contraban on this retreat!

We stay in the kitchen after breakfast as Stew and amy prepare us for a cooking class, and sustainable beauty class. We learn how to make fresh almond milk from scratch (which is actually very easy!), and follow this by making a coffee body scrub. A few people use it over the weekend and their skin feels amazing!

I’ve booked in for a reflexology session at lunchtime, and I’m picked up and taken to my appointment. I’ve had reflexology done in the past but not like this! I’m taken into Beverly’s home studio, seated in a laid back chair with an infrared heater, covered in a blanket, and just about fall asleep… As I briefly open my eyes I see Beverly working on my feet with finesse, it’s almost like she’s listening to my feet. After an hour of bliss, she tells me I have healthy feet, albeit a little bit of tension in my neck. I float back to Sandymount feeling very relaxed.

"Come as you are, leave as you want to be" is the mantra for the weekend.

The next optional activity is a visit to The Wine Farm. I’ve heard good things from Phoebe about this sustainable winery and can’t wait to check it out.

We meet Neil, head winemaker who takes us through his story of how he came to have a winery in the heart of Gippsland, Victoria. After seeing how things can be done the wrong way, Neil and his wife Anna started The Wine Farm in 2014 and haven’t looked back.

We try five wines from the vineyard, and take a walk through the vines. We catch a bit of sun on this beautiful day and leave a few bottles heavier…

Upon our return, we prepare for an evening yin class, led by Pheoebe, as the sun goes down. It’s a great chance to really slow down as we just focus on our breath and lingering in these opening poses.

Dinner is served after class, and everyone recounts their stories from the day before retiring to bed for a relaxing night’s sleep.

The Wine Farm.

The group wakes for another morning yoga session, working on our strength and resilience in poses. We practice a few arm balances and have a good laugh while we do so!

Our last breakfast awaits and it’s a good one! Fresh bread, mushrooms, eggs, avocado, fresh fruit and more are on the table and we fill our bellies after that strong yoga session. It’s hard to describe how good your body feels after just a couple of days of eating clean, unprocessed, delicious food. We definitely don’t feel bad about going back for seconds!

We take part in a cooking class, preparing some of what we will eat for lunch. We help get the cauliflower falafels ready, all having fun rolling them into little balls ready to be placed in the oven. We’re taught how to use the complete stalk of vegetables like cauiflower and broccoli to make pickled veggies. So clever!

The weather isn’t as nice today, but we decided to take a walk into the centre of town of Inverloch and check out the local market, before heading along the coast to see the wild and rugged coast of the Cape. I’ve never been to this part of Victoria before and it’s so beautiful!

Back at the house, Stew and Amy have been busy preparing our farewell lunch with the falafels and vegetables we helped with earlier. It’s a big lunch of fresh food that will certainly not send anyone into a food coma on the way home.

Before everyone begins to disperse, we reflect on our weekend by taking part in a written exercise, writing down our thoughts of things we’d like to take with us, and things we want to leave behind. It’s a beautiful way to end, feeling like Monday will be a new chapter in our lives moving forward.

Breakfast is served!

I hope I will look back at this retreat as a launchpad for new ideas that came to me over the weekend, and to keep myself accountable for always trying to live my best life.

The aim of the weekend was to find balance in our lives. Find the time to bring focus to the things that are most important to us, and to nourish ourselves from the inside out.

These retreats are run up to two times a year in Inverloch, find out more at phoebemalone.yoga/wellnessretreats.