At Billabong Retreat we love to give gifts, celebrate and share. However, we are always trying to be mindful about our impact on the environment.

This festive season we are sharing our top 10 tips on how we celebrate Christmas in a sustainable way.

  1. Give Gift Vouchers and Ecards instead of paper or plastic cards. (We can help with that, shop our gift vouchers here.)
  2. Use wrapping paper that can be reused or recycled.
  3. Make your own Christmas decorations. Look to nature for inspiration. Wreaths can be made from fallen leaves, twigs and flowers.
  4. Donate your unwanted gifts, or regift.
  5. Reduce food waste by composting leftovers or by starting a worm farm.
  6. Shop for your Christmas lunch at your local farmers market.
  7. Give a potted plant for a gift
  8. Avoid single-use plastic tableware.
  9. Gift an experience. Send your loved one to Billabong Retreat, we are an Eco-Certified Destination. ECO Destination Certification assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to ongoing improvement of sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.


The Founder of Billabong Retreat, Paul von Bergen, had the environment front-of-mind we he and his wife Tory built Billabong Retreat from the ground up. 

“When I first saw this land in Maraylya I knew it was too special to keep to ourselves. I had never heard of Maraylya of course and hardly left the Eastern suburbs in Sydney,” Paul said.

“Getting permission to build a yoga retreat on this land is possibly the hardest thing I have ever done and the local council and our lack of significant funds did not make it any easier. Quotes from builders made that option impossible. Owner building a shed seemed like the only viable option. Then I saw some pictures of yurts on the Internet and thought surely it can’t be that hard to build. I was wrong. I went three times over my original budget and it took nearly a year but I learnt a lot about building. We then built three small cabins (now rooms 5/6, 8 and 9) and decided to see if anyone wanted to come. It was slow at first and we started with just Tory and I running a retreat every few weeks with me teaching all the yoga in what is now the lounge room and Tory doing all the cooking. 

The most sustainable timber is plantation pine but that isn’t durable unless it is treated and many of those treatments are toxic! Hardwood lasts longer but is very expensive unless it is illegal forested. We consume so much with no regard or understanding of that item’s origin. I could not do that. 

In the end we used mostly plantation pine with a light organic solvent preservative for the frames and structure, recycled hardwood telegraph poles for feature areas such as the yoga room doors, bamboo floor in the yoga room and mixed hardwood off cuts for the floors in the lounge and dining rooms and second hand doors, windows and furniture where possible. We did our best,” Paul added.

Fast Forward 10 years and Billaboong Retreat now boasts 26 rooms, a spa centre, a yoga room and an outdoor yoga deck. The property has formally received ECO Destination Certification and considers the environment in all aspects of operations. From the locally sourced produce prepared in the kitchen to the organic products used in the spa, Billabong Retreat strives for ecotourism excellence. Being eco is what makes Billabong Retreat unique and authentic.