Over the past few years, I’ve started to appreciate the importance of slowing down. I’m not always great at it - the urge to be busy is hard to ignore - but I have managed to find increasingly brilliant ways to switch off from the everyday and appreciate the benefits of being still.
A good book, a long soak and a scented candle can get you in a leisurely mood. But when it comes to truly calming your mind, time in the wild can work wonders. We all know how freeing it is to dive into the natural world, to swim beneath a waterfall or hike across a valley. Your thoughts slow as you focus on your movements and the beauty around you. Yet simply having trees, sun and water as a backdrop - and a backdrop alone - can be all you need to feel perfectly happy doing very little indeed.
I discovered this while staying at Chalets at Blackheath, a collection of four gorgeously-crafted studio chalets adorned with sandstone, wood-burning stoves, Italian linen, armchairs that cocoon you, and a palette inspired by the world beyond your floor-to-ceiling windows. Celebrating sustainability and luxury, this Blue Mountains bolthole makes use of rain water and solar energy, while its internal walls are built from clay, hemp and stone.
We lit a fire and threw open the blinds, our attention shifting from the scene before us to the books purchased en route at Leura’s Megalong Books. With a cheese plate and lush bath big enough to swim in, there was no reason to leave.
The following morning began with breakfast in the library, and while the beloved Black Cockatoo Bakery pastries are worthy of their praise, the ingredients from social enterprise NATIF took centerstage; think quandongs, Davidson plums, desert limes and lemon myrtle - which were particularly scrumptious scattered over yoghurt and muesli.
With the rain slowing to a drizzle, I set about exploring the hotel’s grounds. There is a communal fire pit (ideal for those with a penchant for star-gazing), a collection of e-bikes, and a thriving indigenous edible garden. Around me, rosellas darted amongst the foliage while flashes of sunlight made the paths and wildflowers glow. Standing there, I drank in the delicious post-rain aroma - a heady combination of eucalyptus, citrus and moss.
But what struck me most were the blackened trees, cloaked in vibrant veils of new growth. Scarred by the Black Summer bushfires, they are almost sculptural now and uniquely beautiful. These trees are poignant reminders of nature’s power, and the immense, cyclical wonder of it all.
I know I will go back to the Blue Mountains. I want to hike to Victoria Falls and swim in its Cascades, and wonder if I’ve stumbled upon another realm while following the Fairy Bower Track. I long to gaze across the Kedumba Valley from the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, and while away an afternoon at Everglades House and Gardens. But for now, this escape to Chalets at Blackheath was all that my busy mind required. Proof that when slowing down, a little nature-infused luxury is all you really need.
Words by Liz Schaffer