Yoga, meditation and supreme comfort: Qii House is the perfect retreat for those after a holiday

Yoga, meditation and supreme comfort: Qii House is the perfect retreat for those after a holiday

Words by Fergus Neal

Qii House is a close escape from the city where forest therapy is used to relieve the stress of the big smoke.

From humble beginnings, Qii House has become a sacred piece of paradise nestled in the sweeping gum trees of the Great Otway National Park.

When Heather Kolb first stumbled upon the original site for Qii House it was love at first sight. The original block was in desperate need of some love and care, but Kolb identified its potential as a future oasis for those seeking renewal and rejuvenation. She was drawn to its peace and serenity.

Sitting 550 meters above sea level and in the heart of the Otways, Qii House is the perfect spot for forest bathing.

“Being in the forest is about finding the inspired calm and getting back into balance,” says Kolb. “I didn’t really know there was such a thing as forest therapy or forest bathing but I think I always did it as a child and into my marriage. We were always frantically busy and I’d say, ‘Come on, let’s get out of here’. It became a way of life for me, it allowed me to reboot.

“When I was widowed, I just found myself going to the forest. I would go down there in the middle of the day on the way back from the supermarket. I got to know the locals and someone said, ‘There’s a property for sale that I think you’d love’. And it was Qii House.

“I felt a good energy there immediately. It was looking a bit unloved but I quickly came up with a concept to restore it to be a place where people could come to find serenity. Through transforming Qii House I felt transformed by the restoration process.”

Qii House contains a forest bathhouse, Japanese tea house, and a space for visitors to meditate and undertake yoga. Forest bathing has hugely positive remedial benefits. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.

“To me, being there is for sharper focus, for creative drive, and meditation. The natural environment gives great restorative energy. All the good things from being in nature, there’s a body of knowledge that supports it.

“It was first endorsed by the World Economic Health Forum in Japan in 1984. Dr Qing Li is at the forefront and has done a lot of research into the benefits of being in canopies and around trees. It reduces cortisol production and it stimulates parasympathetic nerve activity. It’s good for mind, body, and soul.”

A highlight of Qii House is the connected Zaborin Walk. It’s a magical glide through the forest that restores the soul with every step – a testament to Kolb’s astute vision for the retreat.

“I have been planting multilingual peace poles along the nature trail with the silent prayer ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’ … I feel that the message for world peace and inner peace bode well with the philosophy at Qii House and serve as a gentle reminder that all things great and small are connected.”

The track is always evolving and Kolb has been working on several projects with local artists to continue to add to the rainforest walk.

“Forest bathing is about slowing the pace. Each individual’s experience will be different, there’s no set format other than noticing the environment around you, remembering to breathe, and being in the moment,” Kolb concludes.

“In nature, you can’t help but be in the moment. It’s all about soaking in the atmosphere of the forest. You let the forest work its magic on you.”

Check out Qii House near Lorne when planning your next Great Ocean Road holiday. Make bookings and find out more here.