If you’re looking for a serene and unique getaway not too far from Melbourne, the beautiful Woodlands Rainforest Retreat is calling. Matthew Wade reports.


As I’m being driven in a golf cart through the beauteous Woodlands Rainforest Retreat – a rainforest retreat located in Narbethong, only 80 kilometres from Melbourne – I’m struck by two things: a feeling of complete isolation and tranquility, and an understanding that the retreat can serve many purposes for many different kinds of people.

My driver, en route to the cottage I’ll be staying in for two nights, points to one area of the estate that’s popular for marriage proposals, before mentioning that there are also many solo travellers who might spend days, weeks, or months at the retreat completing their unfinished novels or manuscripts.

We pass a fitness centre and the beginning of a bike trail, for couples who want a more active getaway, and a movie library, for those who would rather curl up in their cottages with a woodfire, a glass of red, a good film.

Skirting the narrow road we’re driving along is dense forest, filled with trees and bushes, each cottage hidden amongst the scrub in complete isolation.

When we arrive at my cottage, the Laughing Ducks cottage, it’s magical.

The split-level open plan accommodation is furnished with polished mountain ash floorboards and huge windows that lead to a deck overlooking beautiful fern gullies and a private bushland lake.

There’s a large brick open fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, a king bed, surround sound systems with DVD and CD players, and central heating and cooling.

But it’s the bathroom that truly steals the show.

Its huge oval therapeutic spa with high pressure air blower and heated water jets provide a glorious aquatic massage, with music piped into the spectacular glass walls.

The spa is sunken into a heated tile floor and sits before a bi-fold glass wall that opens onto the large deck and stunning views of the gully.

Whether you’re travelling solo, looking for a romantic getaway, or even somewhere to get on one knee,Woodlands Rainforest Retreat is a postcard-perfect setting.

Owned by a gay couple, the retreat is an ideal holiday or honeymoon venue in the Yarra Ranges and will appeal to many same-sex couples, particularly on the heels of Australia’s marriage equality win (if you want to put a ring on it).

Guests at Woodlands Rainforest Retreat can also take in the many surrounding sights and activities. After spending a day or two relaxing in your stunning cottage, why not venture out for the day and visit Healesville or Marysville, both of which have weekend markets, pubs, and cafes.

Or, depending on the season, you could trek to Lake Mountain and go skiing, or visit a popular winery. But, if you’d prefer to stay within the retreat for the duration of your stay, there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to onsite activities.

You can cycle, walk, picnic, work out, or even play garden games.

There are plenty of neighbouring places to eat as well, including The Black Spur Inn – which is only one minute away, and provides courtesy bus pick ups and drop offs – and Healesville Hotel, a 20-minute drive away.

Woodlands Rainforest Retreat offers three main packages for those considering the unique trip.

These include a Getaway Package, which starts at $410 per night, a Luxury Package, which starts at $545 per night and includes a gourmet barbeque pack, a local breakfast hamper, and a bottle of wine, and a Massage Indulgence Package.

The latter starts at $705 per night, and includes the above as well as a one-hour couples relaxation massage in the privacy of your own cottage.

There are also extras you can purchase including helicopter transfers to and from Woodlands Rainforest Retreat, wine and dine packages, and of course, honeymoon and romantic surprises (surprises need to be organised at least 48 hours in advance).

If you’re looking to get away from the buzz of the city, spend some quality time with your partner, or celebrate a special occasion (even if you partner doesn’t know it yet), you would be hard pressed to find a more luxurious or stunning location than Woodlands Rainforest Retreat.

I’m already ready to go back.

For more information about the retreat and what it offers, visit: woodlands.sensess.com.au.

Star Observer spent two nights at the retreat courtesy of Woodlands Rainforest Retreat.

© Star Observer 2021 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.