Nature's Healing Touch


301583646_5570899252960836_3466748025997391155_n.jpgRe-set and re-charge in the natural healing sanctuary of the Blue Mountains.

By Julie Miller

In 1904, eccentric retail baron Mark Foy fulfilled his dream of opening Australia’s first major health resort, choosing the Blue Mountains to unleash his passion for alternative therapies. The Medlow Bath Hydropathic Establishment, as he called it, offered somewhat dubious treatments including needle baths, ear douches, bowel kneading and ‘electric rectal faradisation’; there was also a Turkish bath and hydrotherapy pools, with its therapeutic mineral waters imported from Germany due to the absence of local springs.

Unfortunately, Foy squandered much of his fortune on the extravagant concept; and in 1906, as the fad of hydrotherapy waned, he had no choice but to rebrand the hotel as a luxury stay, changing its name to the Hydro Majestic and thereby creating the most fashionable hotel of its day.

The Blue Mountains, however, remained synonymous with wellness pursuits over the decades, its fresh mountain air, vast tracts of wilderness and tumbling waterfalls an irresistible lure for those seeking an escape from the stresses of city life. Today, with the wellness industry undergoing a global renaissance, an ever-increasing number of yoga studios, day spas and holistic retreats are as much a part of the Blue Mountains landscape as its craggy rock formations and misty valleys, working in tandem with Mother Nature to de-stress, relax and invigorate.

“If you look at the Indigenous culture, the Blue Mountains is a very sacred space,” explains Brightlands Retreat CEO Craig Schuetrumpf. “When His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to the Blue Mountains and taught at the Fairmont, he said this is a very special place for healing – it has that spiritual strength.”

Local yoga instructor Evelyn Taylor - whose historic guesthouse Kurrara in Katoomba actually pre-dates Foy’s ‘folly’, built in 1901 by a Sydney doctor as a place of respite for his patients – puts it all down to nature’s healing touch.

“In the Mountains, you have a connection to nature; you’re surrounded by majestic views and can breathe the fresh air. There’s nothing quite like being at a lookout at sunset, the silence is palpable,” she says.

“Sydney may only be an hour and a half’s drive, but it’s a world away.”

Whatever your time considerations, you’ll find a retreat, class, workshop or day spa in the region where you can stretch, meditate, or relax your cares away. Here’s a selection of what’s on offer:


Brightlands Retreat

6 Eastview Ave, Leura

T: (02)  4782 5429; W:

 Weekly sound healing and yoga sessions - held in the converted chapel, a beautiful space with a vaulted ceiling and original stain glass windows – are open to the public. Whether you want to work on your health, or just relax in a natural playground, Brightlands can help design the perfect retreat for you.

Happy Buddha Retreats

50 Railway Parade, Wentworth Falls

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; W:

Nestled into the bushland at Wentworth Falls, Happy Buddha Retreats invites participants to commune with nature as you reboot your physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Tap into your inner joy and still your mind at one of their regular retreats, with both mid-week and weekend two-night stays available. Workshops, delicious vegan meals and twin-share accommodation in modern or ‘boho-style’ rooms is included, and there’s even a swimming pool for a bracing dip or to soak up some rays. Caring and sensitive facilitators will guide you on a journey of self-discovery, with meditation and mindfulness increasing clarity and reducing stress. Yoga classes are also available for locals and visitors.

Kurrara Historic Guest House

17 Coomonderry St, Katoomba

T: (02) 4782 6058; E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A classic Blue Mountains bed and breakfast guesthouse, Kurrara is an ideal escape for couples, groups and yogis, its romantic heritage accommodation complemented by a modern, light-filled purpose-built yoga studio. Bespoke mid-week retreats can be tailored to your group’s requirements, with yoga practice enhanced by nature walks, picnics and therapies such as sound healing and meditation. Local teacher Evelyn Taylor is a Level 2 yoga instructor, with 15 years’ experience and a focus on building strength and flexibility. Casual weekend classes are also available.

Tracks & Retreats

T: 0416 258 821 W:

Disconnect and reconnect on a Tracks & Retreats wellness weekend in the Blue Mountains, where your soul will be nourished by the healing combination of yoga and bushwalking. Run by Blue Mountains locals, yoga teacher and remedial massage therapist Ky Dobrowolski and registered nurse Katherine Hallam, the retreats provide a break from daily life as you gain a sense of restoration and vitality through guided bushwalks, yoga and mindfulness sessions, with exceptional accommodation, excellent meals and fun indulgences providing balance and a deep sense of relaxation. The next retreat is the Women’s Wellness Weekend in Blackheath on November 11-13, with twin share accommodation at Kyah Boutique Hotel and dinners at Blaq included, as well as five yoga and mindfulness sessions, guided bushwalks, a picnic lunch and free time to explore the antique shops of Blackheath. Priced at $1150 pp twin share or $1450 pp single occupancy. Customised weekend and mid-week breaks can also be arranged for groups of eight or more.

Goryú Japanese Gardens (五竜日本庭園)

Maple Springs Nursery

85 Baaners Lane, Little Hartley

T: (02) 6355 2140; W:

Goryú Japanese Gardens is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist Japanese stroll garden, located in the garden hub of Little Hartley. Visitors can pause to reflect, ponder, contemplate and meditate in Zen raked garden areas; there’s also a moon-viewing platform over a lake to the Mount York escarpment, mini-waterfalls, ornamental bridges and Suikinkutsus (Japanese water harp) and Tsukubai settings. There is even a Shinto shrine and Torii gate made with no nails, replicating the Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto.

Spa Sublime

9 Penault Ave, Katoomba

T: (02) 4782 3113; W:  

The award-winning Spa Sublime offers the ultimate day spa experience, specialising in treatments for couples and groups of up to eight. Whether you’re booked for a one-hour massage or for a full-day pampering spa ritual, your journey to relaxation begins at Spa Sublime as qualified therapists work their magic. Choose from one of the ready-made Signature Spa Experiences, or create your own package from a selection of treatments using only the highest quality 100 per cent Australian-made products.

StarFlower Apothecary

19 Grose St, Leura

T: (02) 4784 3393; E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A local herbalist started StarFlower Apothecary 22 years ago, offering an extensive range of in-house produced essential oils, supplements, herbal teas, and lush botanical bath and body products. Located amongst beautifully landscaped surroundings, this place of healing and relaxation also has a homeopathic dispensary, as well as offering naturopathy and homoeopathy consultations, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion and psychic readings. Or you just might want to spoil yourself with a massage, facial or body exfoliation session in one of StarFlower’s heavenly-scented treatment rooms.

Ubika Day Spa

Fairmont Resort

1 Sublime Point Rd, Leura

T: (02) 4785 0062


Ubika is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning ‘to grow’, with this award-winning day spa’s philosophy to plant and nurture the seed for your physical, emotional and spiritual growth. Its spa menu has been designed to hydrate, nourish, restore and regenerate, with a range of packages available as gift vouchers. The Signature Spa experience, for instance, is 180 blissful minutes of body polish, a full body massage, a bespoke hydration facial, a nourishing scalp treatment and a cheese platter served with a glass of bubbles.


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