Escape To Gwinganna, Part One

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It’s barely 9pm and dinner is already long over. I am wrapped up in a luxury robe with a bath running, while contemplating another cup of herbal tea - not my usual behaviour on a Friday night. Through the expansive balcony doors the lights of the Gold Coast shimmer in the distance, the lofty skyline dominated by the Q1 Building rising up from the golden sand in Surfer’s Paradise, one of Australia's great holiday destinations. It’s the end of day one of a three day, two night, spa weekend getaway at the famous Queensland health retreat and spa resort, Gwinganna, and so far I’ve hardly had time to catch my breath. After my arrival just before 2pm, I was whisked through a light lunch, a tour of the facilities, and rundown of the rest of the day’s events, before heading to the Wellness Centre to complete a health questionnaire and set up some spa treatments. My first visit to the spa sanctuary didn’t fail to produce a wow factor. Nestled amidst pristine bush without the loss of any trees, the spa is essentially a cluster of buildings arranged in a circle and looking inward. I was greeted, given a locker key for the duration of my stay, selected a pair of massage thongs, and shown to the locker room to change. After a quick shower to wash away the travel day grime, I then met my therapist in the reception area, Keri, ahead of an unusual ‘rockupuncture’ treatment, which is it’s a combination of acupuncture using extremely fine needles, and massage using hot oils and heated basalt stones. 

Before dinner, which is a communal affair, we had an orientation session where I discovered that people come to Gwinganna for many reasons; the need to detox, to lose weight, to revive good health, and to de-stress. The three-day spa weekend combines a little of each, with an overall focus on wellbeing and relaxation. Our group that weekend was largely women travelling alone, with two men for good measure; one on his own, the other part of a couple, parents needing some time out. Dinner is a communal affair, with much of what they serve in terms of fruits, vegetable and herbs grown on the property. There are several gardens and orchards providing this harvest. The rest is purchased locally with a focus on free range or organic, and of course optimum health. I was back in my buggy by 8.30pm and on my way back up the hill to my villa for the third time that day, this time to relax some and enjoy it. By 9.45pm I'm ready for sleep. It's the first day of my spa vacation, and time to switch off the light, sink into that king sized bed and be ready for another day of activity, education and spa treatments, and a knock on the door at 5.15am to get the day started.

For more information on Gwinganna health retreats, visit

Joanna Hall