Slowing the world down for a weekend

Posted on July 19, 2015 | Comments Off on Slowing the world down for a weekend


Taking a step into the slow lane: Lucy Marshall, left, from the Port Fairy Community House, and sourdough maker Jackie Bowe, are part of the upcoming Women’s Weekend Retreat in Port Fairy.

Words and images by Louise North

In this fast-paced world, most of us long for a slow weekend spent indulging in a massage, some yoga, a long beach walk or learning new ways to be creative with food, paint, or even poetry.

For women, especially, it’s not always easy to extricate ourselves from the needs of family or work, or “give ourselves permission to have some down time,” says Lucy Marshall from the Port Fairy Community House.

Lucy is organising this year’s “The Women’s Weekend Retreat”, which has returned to Port Fairy after being held in Halls Gap at the base of the Grampians since 1998.

“The retreat allows women to connect with other women and explore skills and creativity in a supportive environment,” she told Bluestone.

“We think it’s important to offer women an opportunity, and even permission, to spend time on themselves. So many women find themselves isolated, experiencing financial hardship or busy with caring for their children or elderly parents.”

Some of the sessions at the retreat on August 22 and 23 include yoga, drawing, mandala making, singing, sushi making, meditation and how to make sourdough bread.

As the proud owner of a 15-year-old sourdough starter -it’s a bit like having a teenager who lives in the fridge – I couldn’t wait to talk about this more.


The beauty of bread: Jackie Bowe will reveal the secrets of sourdough as part of the Women’s Weekend Retreat program.

Port Fairy newcomer Jackie Bowe will teach women how to make a live starter (and get to take it home) and demonstrate the steps of making a sourdough loaf over the two days. She’s modified a recipe so that making sourdough bread will fit into any busy cook’s life.

Jackie’s passion for sourdough started on her first cycling trip to Europe where she tasted and ate plenty of some of the world’s best rye breads in Germany.

“I was hooked after that,” she said.

“Making bread is simple. It’s just flour, salt and water and you’re in control of the process, and that really appealed to me,” Jackie said.

“When you make your own, you know it’s fresh and it’s much cheaper than buying a sourdough loaf. For us it’s a weekly celebration, even my almost 2-year-old likes to eat the bread I bake.”

Jackie, who was raised in Portland, returned to live in Port Fairy just a few years ago and while she never imaged returning to the south-west, the lure of the sea and the Port Fairy beautiful architecture encouraged Jackie and husband, author Steven Conte, to return.

As well as a program of workshops, the retreat offers activities like a guided walk around Griffiths Island, a historical tour of Port Fairy and yoga at dawn by the beach.  Women will also have time to visit the shops, cafés and galleries, Lucy said.

“We aim to keep costs as low as possible, to make it accessible to all women. Some participants are booking a luxury weekend away, others are working on a tighter budget.”

You can find the full Women’s Weekend Retreat program here and follow them on Facebook here. You can also contact Lucy direct via email: 

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