'I found the perfect cure for burnout, just 2 hours' drive from Sydney.'

Towards the end of last year, I was heading — no, hurtling towards burnout.

I was stressed about work, overwhelmed by my social calendar, and just a teeny bit worried about the whole cozzie livs thing — particularly as a single woman, living alone in a Sydney apartment where rent has gone up by more than $150 per week since I moved in.

For me, self-care practices such as exercise, meditation and early nights are usually non-negotiable, but they were rapidly falling away as I doggedly tried to fulfil every single commitment in my diary, regardless of how I was feeling. (Spoiler alert: mostly not good.)

Watch: The little rewards of self-care. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Thankfully, this wasn't my first rodeo with burnout and on this occasion, I managed to hit the brakes right before I crashed. And by 'crashed' I mean, crying in meetings and eating cereal for dinner (which isn't aesthetically pleasing enough to qualify as #girldinner).

I quickly scrapped my plan to just 'hang on' until the Christmas break, when I'd finally get some downtime. Because the reality was, that "downtime" would be one week of non-stop family and social commitments — with a little added festive sprinkle of pressure to pretend to be okay when very much NOT OKAY — before I was right back to work.


I needed a break… like, yesterday. One outside of Sydney, but not one where excessive travel would cut into my desperately required downtime.

Enter Mount Hay Retreat — an adults-only, rural escape, just a two-hour drive from the city, minutes away from the beating heart of Berry Village on the south coast of NSW.

I booked one of only a handful of luxury private suites, and enlisted Bex, my very good friend (and on this occasion, chauffeur — because you'll definitely need a car to get to this remote location where Ubers just... don't exist, whaaat?), and off we went, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city far behind.

Soon we were free of traffic, tootling down pretty country lanes, bumping over cattle grids and excitedly pointing out cows in fields like only two nature-starved city gals could.

Upon arrival at the retreat, we were met by our lovely hosts Louise and Anthony, greeted even more enthusiastically by their dogs, and then shown to our suite.

Our audible gasps as we got a glimpse of the breathtaking view of the rolling hills from our private deck seemed to satisfy Louise, who quietly left us to… quickly post pics to our Instagram accounts.

The view from our suite. Image: Supplied.


As well as our expansive terrace, we were treated to an alfresco bath, a cool, comfortable living area, a convenient kitchenette, and a huge, comfy bed. One of those beds you want to launch yourself on to face-first like they do in the movies (yes, I did it).

Oh, and the cheeseboard and chocolate-covered strawberries Louise kindly left for us.

And again with that view?! *Chef's kiss* Image: Supplied.


Other features of the retreat include a pool and spa, established fruit trees, hidden glades, a giant chess set, and a sky-scraping 'Cloud Swing' to fulfil all your wannabe Instagram influencer dreams.

Bex and I? We opted to drink wine while watching the sunset. As darkness fell, we ran a bath using the locally made bath salts, provided by the ever-attentive Louise, and hopped in.

If you've never had an alfresco bath underneath a stunning star-filled sky with your bestie and a bottle of wine, well, I highly recommend it.

We listened to Taylor Swift and put the world to rights until our fingers and toes were wrinkled and the mozzies were making mincemeat of us. We dried off with towels so soft, we both checked the labels and added them to our online shopping carts immediately afterwards, before slipping into the cosy robes provided.


After a little more wine and a late-night snack of chocolate-covered strawberries, we collapsed onto our ridiculously comfortable king-size bed. The next morning, I had the sleep-in I'd been (ironically) dreaming of for months.

After soaking up the view one last time over morning coffee, we headed into Berry for breakfast. The Hungry Monkey on Princess Street was cosy and a little quieter than some of the cafes on Berry's main road, which was a little kinder to our ever-so-slightly sore heads.

After a filling brekkie, there was still plenty of time to wander Berry's charming streets, full of boutique shops, historic buildings, cute cafes and quaint restaurants. And of course, we made a stop at the Famous Berry Donut Van, for sugary snacks to fuel the road trip home.

As we arrived back in Sydney less than two hours later, I felt like the fog had lifted. Just 24 hours away from work emails, household chores, and the grind of the city was enough respite to get me back on my game, ready to tackle the last couple of months of 2023… before real life inevitably started all over again.

Maybe I'll book a return visit very soon, now that 2024's in full swing.

The writer travelled as a guest of Mount Hay Retreat.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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