A wellness weekend in the Shoalhaven is designed to inspire women to stand tall.
Stand Tall Retreats are designed for those seeking an escape from physical or emotional stress. According to founder Amy Manton, it’s making those small changes to our usual routine that allow for greater insights and opportunities to reset. Here’s the rundown of what a wellness weekend with Stand Tall Retreats on the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast looks like.
The Shoalhaven is shaping up as a destination for wellness. And the founder of Stand Tall Retreats Amy Manton has responded to demand by curating a three-day itinerary woven around wellness. The retreat goes far beyond massages and facials. Though there are those too! It’s more of a hybrid of horse riding and hula hooping, ayurvedic eating and pilates, yoga and surf lessons. But what is also wonderful about this roving retreat is that it provides a safe space for women to disconnect from their busy lives and stir the spirit.
Go horse riding at Stand Tall Retreats. (Image: Amy Manton)
The two-hour drive to the Shoalhaven from Sydney or Canberra makes Berry on the NSW South Coast a top spot to get away from it all, restore and reconnect. Berry is also on the train line, travelling through the tangled greenery of the Royal National Park and craggy Illawarra Escarpment from Sydney. The rail route follows the cliffs that are buttered yellow in the early morning light. And we are so close to the sea at times that we can see puffs of mist as the waves pound the coastline. It’s where the weekend’s meditation begins.
Guests with Stand Tall Retreats enjoy exclusive access to luxury boutique farmhouse Sinclairs of Berry during their stay. During my normal working day, I’m showered with emails, Whatsapp messages, and drowning in domestic duties. Staying in this boutique guesthouse, with its slew of comfy couches, alcoves and corners to cosy up in, really felt luxurious.
The retreat is held in the luxury boutique farmhouse Sinclairs of Berry. (Image: Amy Manton)
Despite being just a block away from the main street of Berry, it’s a place of comfort and privacy. There is also a carefully curated gift box, which includes everything from a Totem Eco natural deodorant to artisan chocolate from Loco Love Chocolate. A bottle of wine from Silo Estate is also included – everything in moderation.
Finding a cosy space to make your own is easy here. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
There is something so soothing about falling into an enormous bed when exhausted. And the bed in my room at Sinclairs of Berry brings enormous comfort. It’s styled with different textures, botanical prints and textiles and a plethora of pillows. Although all the rooms are uniquely different, my bedroom opens out onto the sun-splashed terrace and swimming pool. Being in this space is like a warm embrace. There’s an antique chair I can curl up in to admire the views over the green folds of the countryside which spills down to Broughton Mill Creek. There’s a designer ensuite bathroom, too.
It wouldn’t be a wellness retreat without a super luxe bed to call your own. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
There’s something about a country kitchen that brings people together. All the catering is taken care of during our stay, but guests who book out the luxury farmhouse will have access to a state-of-the-art country kitchen, with a dishwasher and a butler’s pantry.
All up, Sinclairs of Berry has eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and accommodates 18 guests. It also has an infinity pool that looks out over the surrounding countryside. There’s a fire pit for stargazing and an indoor fireplace for wintry nights.
The kitchen is well-equipped for cooking up a storm. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
Food and drink
The Standing Tall Retreat itinerary is jam-packed with activities. So, when we do reconvene as a group it’s often around the dining table. It’s there that we learn that everyone at the retreat is ready for a reset. Food is a major focus of the weekend away and the feasts prepared by Karina, of Dandelion & Mallow Wholefood Kitchen, are incredible.
When you reconvene as a group it’s often around the dining table. (Image: Amy Manton)
There are salads bristling with just-picked herbs, leaves, and tomatoes and everything from salsas to pate are made from scratch. In addition to enjoying simple, wholesome food, the conversation around the table makes for a nourishing and nurturing experience.
In addition to enjoying wholesome food, the conversation around the table makes for a nourishing and nurturing experience. (Image: Amy Manton)
Shout-outs to Monique, from Regal Riding School, who paired me with Bill The Best Horse In All the Land and empowered me to brave a brief canter.
There are all kinds of wellness activities to try during your stay. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
We also learn about gut health during a holistic ayurvedic health workshop with Dr Verena, enjoy a reiki session led by Casey, of Restore Reiki, and have the option of a facial and massage with Alexis Barnett, of Skin Fit Body & Beauty.
Enjoy a facial and massage at the retreat. (Image: Amy Manton)
Additional highlights include hula hooping after our yin yoga class with Gloria Tong and a surf lesson with Eric, from Surfcamp Australia.
A yoga class in the garden is a beautiful way to reset. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
Free time. What’s that again? It’s something I don’t get a lot of. So, to see it written into the itinerary gives me permission to slow down, keep my laptop closed, turn my phone off and close my eyes. When I do switch off, those moments of revelation come thick and fast. I know that I’ve been working too hard, and the weekend away prompts me to think more about working smarter, not harder. By Monday morning, I have managed to say no to the offer of more work in favour of balance and more time to spend with my family.
Spend your free time relaxing by the pool. (Image: Ainslie Co. Photography/Stand Tall Retreats)
I’m not sure if it’s the reiki, the yoga, the reformer Pilates, hula-hooping, horse riding or daily dips in the pool. Perhaps it’s the cumulative effect of all the above. But after three days of using different muscles, I really feel like I am walking taller, and my shoulders have softened. If the aim of the retreat is to empower women, then Stand Tall Retreats does just that and then some. And I know one thing for certain: I’ve never slept better than following a weekend with Stand Tall Retreats in Berry in the Shoalhaven region. In fact, I feel like a leaf in the water. Just going with the flow.
You’ll walk taller after a weekend of reformer Pilates and other wellness activities. (Image: Amy Manton)
The three-day retreats start at $2000, which includes all the activities, a gift hamper on arrival, food, drink and accommodation. Stand Tall Retreats also facilitate one-day retreats and bespoke one-off leather crafting workshops. The region’s website also has more inspiration for wellness weekends in Shoalhaven.
Stand Tall Retreats also facilitate one-day retreats and bespoke one-off leather crafting workshops. (Image: Amy Manton)