Every week Elle Halliwell keeps millions of Australians up to date on all things entertaining, healthy and chic stylish thanks to her work with the country’s top media outlets. Elle’s career has taken her overseas reporting on global entertainment and fashion stories and seen her interview international stars including Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett, and Miranda Kerr for television, radio and print. In 2016 Elle made headlines herself, having revealed she was battling a rare blood cancer while pregnant with her first child. She is now the proud mum of a baby boy named Tor, and is on the road to recovery. Elle’s health battle sparked a passion for raising awareness of rare blood cancers and she is currently working with CML research pioneer the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute [SAHMRI], Cancer Council NSW and The Leukaemia Foundation. Health and wellbeing has always been a passion of Elle’s and she is a certified IIN Health Coach and is completing an Advanced Diploma of Integrative Natural Health at Sydney’s Nature Care College.
It’s a big sky. After months spent in an office, sandwiched between Sydney’s claustrophobic skyscrapers, the mass of cloudless blue atmosphere is initially blinding as urban sprawl makes way for the green, lush pasture and gently rolling hillsides of New South Wales’ Shoalhaven district.
While the view is only occasionally punctuated by a glimpse of Pacific Ocean, the gentle scent of salt that wafts through the car window is a reminder we’re following the coastline south towards our seaside destination of Mollymook.
It’s midday on Tuesday when my girlfriend and I shut down our computers, leave our respective offices and embark on our wellness ‘micro-cation’.
In a world where the idea of clocking off completely at 5pm sounds like a retirement plan and weekends are no longer sacred, the concept of a mid-week recharge is becoming more and more appealing to those of us who dedicate weekends to side hustles or time with kids.
Accommodation is cheaper, cafes and restaurants are quieter and there are more opportunities to practice self-care (in between responding to the occasional urgent email, because let’s face it, it’s 2019 and you’ve sometimes just got to do the things).
We’re both burnt out. My girlfriend is preparing for a huge presentation and has been running herself ragged since the year began, and is desperate for a breather.
I’m juggling a new freelance writing career, a toddler and the daunting realisation that I have a chronic illness and no access to sick leave or holiday pay.
We decide to self medicate with a 48 hour micro-cation consisting of meditation, yoga, healthy food, clean air and cleansing baptisms in salty surf.
Located three hours South of Sydney, the laidback seaside town of Mollymook was put on the map in 2009 when owner of Bannisters, Peter Cosgrove converted a run-down motel into a boutique hotel perched atop the picturesque cliff face of Bannisters Point, housing renowned British chef, Rick Steins’ popular restaurant in a joint venture.
With its white-clad walls, climbing tropical foliage and a permanent soundtrack of crashing waves, the hotel offers instant calm as we check in and head to our coastal-inspired Ocean Deluxe room.
Stein’s culinary talent may be broad, but it’s the cookbook author’s passion for exquisite seafood that he is arguably best known for. It would be a crime not to sample his signature dishes, we decide, when we dine at the hotel’s restaurant that evening, overlooking a glassy, cliff-hanging infinity pool. We order half a dozen fresh oysters – a sample of three varieties from the Clyde River and Narooma, mahi mahi ceviche and grilled Hervey Bay scallops to share. Aside from the gloriously buttery sauce coating the scallops, dinner thus far is healthy and fresh. But at the recommendation of a friend, we add Stein’s famous fish pie to our order.
One bite into the creamy, garlicky, gastronomic marvel, I surmise it will take about five F45 sessions to burn off this main course alone, but it’s more than worth the future sweat sessions. It’s a much-hyped dish, but few would argue it doesn’t live up to its reputation.
The following morning, the rising sun wakes us up naturally and the sound of rolling waves and dozens of curious lorikeets provide the ideal background noise for a 20-minute balcony meditation.
The hotel’s day spa features a Hammam steam room, which can be booked for 30 minutes as is a great way to begin or finish a treatment, or simply take a half-hour breather. For those seriously dedicated to self-care, $950 will buy you a six-hour treatment session which includes everything from massage and body exfoliation to a facial, mani and pedi.
There is no doubt that Mollymook and greater Milton is still thick with small-town charm, but an influx of urban migrants and campervan-driving social media nomads are slowly injecting a modern bohemian vibe to the area. What it lacks in convenience (Uber Eats is still a while off), it makes up for in picturesque hospitality offerings and fresh farm-to-table cuisine.
From the healthy yet hedonistic Milk Haus at Woodstock (located in an old cheese factory) to the Orchard St elixirs served in tin cups at Pearler Kombi, there’s no shortage of Instagram-worthy experiences for fit foodies.
There’s just one downside. You’ll need to take a few hundred micro-cations to feel like you’ve truly explored this stunning piece of Australia.