These days, many of us spend long hours hunched over a computer and our wrists have to deal with repetitive strain as we tap away on our keyboards. Even when we manage to escape the office computer, we tend to keep our smartphones closer to us than our best friends – they reside in our pockets and we hold them in our hands when we cross the road. We buckle them into their seats on the dashboard of our cars, and they guide us to wherever we might want to go, which is likely to be somewhere relaxing – perhaps a place where the weather is warm and the time of day doesn’t matter.

The East Coast of Australia is home to four of the best wellness retreats in the country, so disconnect yourself from your devices, get in your car and find that inner peace that has been alluding you for so long.

1. Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Hire a car at Gold Coast Airport, then head to the Gold Coast Highway – after a short 25-minute drive you’ll arrive at Gwinganna, which feels like a world apart.

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This multi-award winning destination was named 2017’s Best Wellness Retreat Oceania in the World Spa Awards, as well as the Best Luxury Destination Spa Australia and Oceania in the World Luxury Spa awards. Positioned on 200 hectares of fertile land in the Tallebugera Valley and boasting the largest spa in the Southern Hemisphere, Gwinganna attracts those in search of rejuvenation and personal transformation. There are over 15 retreat packages to choose from, as well as a number of environmentally sensitive accommodation options, all of which are surrounded by nature and designed with peace in mind.

“The Spa Sanctuary at Gwinganna is quite simply world class. One feels simultaneously immersed in nature and indulgent luxury. The staff at the sanctuary is extraordinary, their expertise and passion is unparalleled.” – Hugh Jackman

2. Solar Springs Retreat

Sydney is the most densely populated city in Australia, and after spending a bit of time there you might find yourself looking for the exit. Thankfully, respite is just a short drive away.

Approximately two-hours from Sydney Airport, situated in the Southern Highlands, in the village of Bundanoon, you’ll find Solar Springs. Landscaped gardens and rolling hills provide the setting for this popular retreat, which has been in business for over 30 years.

People return for the multitude of health, fitness and nutrition options as well as the dedicated service and talented staff. Solar Springs is equipped with a gymnasium, health club and an aquatic centre, which features a 25-metre swimming pool, sauna, spa and steam room. Visitors are also able to partake in cycling, archery and tennis, and can take picturesque bushwalks in Morton National Park.

3. Sanctuary Retreat

Hire a car in Cairns and head south toward Tully Gorge National Park. Located amidst over 20 hectares of private rainforest near Mission Beach, you’ll find Sanctuary Retreat (but only if you’re looking for it).

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Here, rainforest huts and deluxe cabins are hidden among native trees, providing views of the tropical surrounds as well as Brookes Beach. Sanctuary offers affordable retreats with a focus on health and wellbeing. Massage therapists soothe tired muscles, while yoga classes and meditation in the purpose-built studio invigorate and revive both mind and body.

4. Vipassana Centre Queensland

This retreat is a little different. For a start, it’s free, and the focus is directed more towards mindful meditation, inner health, and the development of positive thought patterns. This isn’t a trendy luxury getaway where you’ll be pampered and dine on gourmet fare – rather, you’ll practice discipline by remaining silent for 10 days, developing beneficial meditation techniques to last you a lifetime.

Vipassana, meaning to see things as they really are, originated in India and has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, there are Vipassana centres all over the world, offering people the chance for self-transformation and growth. If you’re determined to make significant changes in your life, and to examine your thought patterns in order to increase mental clarity, a Vipassana course may be a life-changing 10 days. To get to the Queensland centre, hire a car in Brisbane and drive south for just under two hours to the retreat in the rural town of Pomona.

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Whether you’re after rest and relaxation, or a mind and body overhaul, one of the above retreats is bound to provide what you’re looking for. All are located within a few hours of the East Coast’s major airports, so check out our affordable car hire options to get your transport sorted.