7 Indigenous-inspired health and wellness experiences to heal your soul
For thousands of years, Indigenous Australians have been living off the land, combining their knowledge of native plants with ancient healing techniques to calm the body and soothe the spirit.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert in bush medicine yourself to benefit from these Aboriginal remedies and rituals. From secluded day spas to natural mud baths, here are nine Indigenous health and wellness experiences that will leave you feeling enriched, uplifted and inspired.
Heal your spirit in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest
Experience the therapeutic powers of the rainforest at the Daintree EcoLodge and Spa in Tropical North Queensland. Named ‘Wawu-karrba’, or ‘healing of the spirit’ in the local language, the spa harnesses the pure waters of a nearby waterfall believed by the Indigenous Kuku Yalanji women to have ancient healing properties.
Opt for the Julma at the Waterfall experience and take the rocky trail down through the rainforest to a wooden platform set up by the cascades where your masseuse awaits. Then head back to your private ‘bayan’ – a treehouse nestled in the leafy canopy – and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest.
Rest, replenish and restore on the Gold Coast
Take your pick from the Li’Tya range of treatments and products, created in consultation with Aboriginal elders in order to share the earth’s healing elements with guests. Replenish your saltwater-soaked tresses with a nourishing quandong hair mask and a mind-melting Paudi scalp massage. Treat your toes to a Miji Jina (‘footprint’) ritual, featuring a warming native pepperberry foot treatment. Or rehydrate with a Mala Mayi Kurrawa experience and drift away as your body is cocooned in a warm layer of pearl and kelp body mud.
Ready to return to reality? Check in to the Star’s boutique hotel The Darling, where you can make a splash in the rooftop infinity pool on the ninetieth floor or watch the city light up from the floor-to-ceiling windows of your penthouse suite.
With native ingredients like honey myrtle and river mint featuring heavily on the menu, the Q1 Day Spa at the QT Gold Coast fuses Indigenous-inspired treatments like ochre mud wraps with a traditional day spa experience. Start your journey with a grounding foot spa ritual, and end with a YULU tea infused with Australian flavours like lemon myrtle leaves, wild rosella buds, bush lime and Davidson plum.
Find out where else in Queensland you can sample Indigenous flavours with this Australian bush foods guide.
Find sanctuary and solitude in The Whitsundays
If you like your health spas to come with a generous side-serving of sophistication, put the Spa at Qualia to the top of your must-visit list. Considered one of the world’s best luxury resorts, the adults-only Hamilton Island retreat more than lives up to its name (it means “a collection of deeper sensory experiences” in Latin).
Qualia is also deeply respectful of Aboriginal culture and its wellness menu takes plenty of inspiration from the island’s Indigenous roots. Unknot and unravel with a signature Kumali ritual, which uses aromatic warmed poultices featuring Australian Kaffir lime, Tamarind leaf, Quandong and Kakadu plum to massage your body and infuse antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Afterwards, cool off in your own private plunge pool or borrow the hotel’s catamaran and go island-hopping.
Escape to an Indigenous-inspired tropical island retreat
Rebalance your body and mind at Gwandalan Spa, where treatments are designed with sustainably wild-harvested, pure Australian botanicals and organic ingredients. The appropriately named Gwandalan (it means ‘rest and peace’ in the Aboriginal language) is tucked away on Orpheus Island Lodge, an all-inclusive tropical hideaway off the coast of Townsville, nestled in over 1000 hectares of national park.
Begin with a rhythmic kodo massage, which uses traditional Aboriginal techniques to balance and realign energy flow. For a truly transformative experience, book yourself in for ‘The Dreaming’ ceremony which promises a total sensory journey from head to toe. Feel your anxieties melt away as your body is nourished by Australian native plant essential oils and extracts, cleansing earth ochres and purifying desert salts.
Head to the Queensland Outback and take a bath 20,000 years in the making
For a spa experience like no other, venture 860km west of Brisbane on the Adventure Way to reach the country town of Eulo, famed for its ancient artesian springs where water oozes to the surface as milky grey mud.
As the sun sets and the firepits are stoked, settle into your private open-air tub in the purpose-built bath house. Watch the stars rise high above you as your body is enveloped with mud harvested from shale deep beneath the earth’s surface and estimated to be around 20,000 years old.
Afterwards, marvel at your skin’s newfound silkiness: a result of the clay’s cleansing mineral properties which include silica, magnesium potassium, calcium, iron and zinc.
Set sail for the Great Barrier Reef on a personal wellness journey
Imagine a luxury sailboat staffed by yogis and health and wellness experts, and where the destinations include secluded islands, World Heritage-listed rainforest and coral reefs. That’s the concept behind Revitalise on the Reef, a personalised four-week voyage designed to enrich mind, body and soul.
Practice your mindfulness with daily guided yoga sessions against backdrops of untouched wilderness. Meet with Indigenous elders to learn about ancient healing rituals and experience a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony. Make sure you leave plenty of time to explore the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.
Looking for more ways to connect with Indigenous culture in Queensland? Add these unforgettable events and experiences to your list.