To begin: Turn off the mobile. Take your shoes off. Walk on the grass. Smell the ocean. Lie on your back on the lawn at night and stargaze. Swim in a giant rockpool. Listen to the whalebirds calling out on a misty night.
It’s so easy to find a space to yourself on Norfolk to unwind, to take a picnic and watch the sunset, to walk through the National Park and listen to birdsong. It’s no wonder that for the health and well-being practitioners the island environment is an essential cornerstone to their practice. “ When you are in a city, it has its own rhythm and you get caught up in that rhythm. After people have been on Norfolk for a few days, you can see them slowing down, see them reconnecting with that peacefulness, the unhurried way of life here” says Candida, a local yoga instructor.
“There is so much unspoilt natural environment here, it’s like all of Norfolk works as a health and well-being retreat”Louise, a massage therapist, explains. “One of my old friends and a recent house-guest says ‘Norfolk is like the NSW North Coast forty years ago‘, stretching out luxuriously in our verandah hammock and recalling bare feet and carefree summers of his youth.
Dotted around Norfolk are many special places dedicated to healing practices: massage and yoga studios, day spas and retreats, healing gardens. Our first visit takes us down a meandering path winding through a lush garden to the Strawberry Fields Yoga Studio. Inside a small class practices Power Flow yoga, led by teacher Candida Langman. “The garden is an integral part of practicing yoga here” says Candida when we are relaxing after her class, “you begin to shed your day at work as you come through the front gate, perhaps notice a flowering plant, engage the senses, ground yourself on the way to the studio. It’s part of the journey”. Candida spent time in India, Hawaii and Bali studying yoga, and now travels overseas twice a year for training and seminars and recently began teaching in Johannesburg as well. Another yoga teacher in the Vinyasa tradition is Sarah Quintal, who, several years ago, spent six months undergoing intensive teacher training in Bali – “a life-changing experience” – before setting up her practise back on the Norfolk. “People can join weekly classes or we can tailor a well-being package or yoga for couples at a time that suits them” explains Sarah. Something you won’t find in the city: after class at Strawberry Fields, during the Om chant, the sounds of the garden are joined by the sound of a tail thumping on the verandah. Strawberry the puppy knows that the Om chant signals the end of the yoga session, and she’s excitedly waiting for blissful yogi pats on their way out.
Our next visit takes us to the verandah of a traditional island home, drinking ginger tea and watching a ‘sou’easterly’flurrying a cabbage palm. One end of the verandah opens to a tranquil massage studio where Miles Sanderson conducts Ka Huna Bodywork sessions, a discipline he was drawn to whilst living away from Norfolk for a time, in Byron Bay. “Ka Huna is based on traditional Polynesian healing and it can work on many levels-as a massage for aches and pains, as an emotional release, but we can go deeper than that and work with spiritual blockages or to move the soul on it’s journey. Due to the deep spiritual nature of the work some people find significant emotional relief, some have very profound and moving experiences. Joint and bone work is particularly effective for older clients, and we can do fully clothed floor-work sessions as well”. Extend the calm of the Ka Huna session with a walk through the beautiful (and adjacent) Camelot Gardens, open to the public and built on permaculture principles (“and loads of mulch!’ says creator Robin Adams) and recently the site of a two day organic workshop which is already providing fantastic vegetables. Another opportunity for Ka Huna massage is also available through local Piria Coleman, who draws upon her knowledge of Ka Huna as well as other therapies to suit the client, and also teaches Tai Chi and Qigong.
Many options exist on the island for extended pampering treatments, including full or half day spa treatments in a variety of styles. At Expressions Day Spa, owner Kim Nobbs suggests the Aromatic Hot Stone Massage: “Here, smell this” she says while unclipping a bowl of fragrant ginger, nutmeg and orange. “We heat balinese stones, wrap them and use them to provide a beautiful spice scrub. There’s also a Japanese Hanakasumi Body Ritual, which uses cherry blossom rice powder and papaya enzymes to exfoliate and revive the skin.
Balinese treatments are a particular feature of Organic Body Therapies with Louise Donald, who has been a massage therapist on Norfolk for nineteen years. “I am really interested in providing Balinese therapies because they pay attention to the whole body. We start at the feet and work our way up the whole body. They are a special treat in winter because they are lovely and warm, and we are just in the process of installing solar-powered hot-tubs so you can really unwind in those as well”. Louise offers full and half day retreats are available with calming therapies, healthy food and meditation.
At Aurelia Wellness Spa you are immediately struck with the incomparable view of green rolling hills and ocean. “It’s a real feature here” says Karen Adams, the owner. “Even the sauna has an ocean view”. We wander through the treatment rooms, each of which have their own private verandah space looking out to sea, and pop our heads into the flotation and Cleopatra bath rooms, discussing pamper packages and the benefits of witchhazel as a skin tonic, part of their new skincare range.“We really encourage our guests to take time before and after their treatments to use the facilities and unwind, drink tea on the verandah, relax into island time.”
For those holding life questions or seeking spiritual guidance, Norfolk is also home to some very gifted and intuitive spiritual healers who work with reiki, astrology, chakras, crystal healing and spiritual and psychic development. Later in the year Norfolk’s health and wellbeing community will be joined by guest presenters at the week-long Holistic Living Festival from the 18-25th September 2011, headlined by key speakers Michael Roads with seminars on ‘The Healing Power of Love’ and ‘The Journey of the Self’ and Helen Barnes on ‘Harmonic Light Body Activations’. Among local presenters will be island mystic Gaye Evans, presenting ‘Energy Hotspots of Norfolk’, and Graham Sait with ‘New Ways to Wellness’, as well as a host of seminars, opportunities to meet presenters and guests, and options for yoga and meditation during the week.
2012 sees Yoga and Tai Chi retreats scheduled for February and March respectively. In the meantime, Norfolk’s extensive ‘World of Wellbeing’ will be represented at several Mind, Body & Spirit Festivals in Australian capital cities. Louise Donald says, “People who are lucky enough to live on Norfolk know how beautiful and unspoilt it is, but we really need to convey that to more people. It’s the perfect place to unwind and to take time for ourselves.”
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in YourWorld, Volume 01 Issue 03, 2011. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.