Does it matter what religion you are to book a retreat here?
No. Gembrook Retreat was set up by a Quaker woman, Maggie Dunkle, and she wanted to welcome anyone who was seeking retreat and spiritual renewal, regardless of faith or no faith. The residential community is Christian.
Is Gembrook Retreat suitable for children?
Yes! Children are very welcome to come and stay with their families or other adults who take responsibility for supervising them. There are many places, birds, animals, insects and plants on the land to discover and explore. As for adults, there are risks to be aware of on a bush block (we have occasional snakes, some plants are prickly, we have burning off piles and woodfire stoves for heating). Please talk to us if you have particular concerns.
Does Gembrook Retreat have disability access?
We are on steeply sloped bush block without paved access. The new Meeting House has space for one car to park, and it will be possible for someone in a wheelchair to move through this building and access toilets. However, vehicle access can be difficult in wet weather, and most of the property requires a reasonable level of walking capacity to access. Please talk to us if you have concerns about mobility.
Do you offer communal meals or time with the residents?
You need to be independent during your retreat. Guests are welcome to join residents for daily prayer 5 days a week. Aside from this, there is no regular access to the residential area of the main house as part of your stay.
Does Gembrook Retreat run directed retreats?
At this stage, we do not run retreat activities. There are some suggestions in our guest information about how you might spend your time, and how other guests have experienced the land. You are welcome to conduct your own retreats for a small group using our facilities.
How much does it cost to stay?
Contributions toward accommodation are by sliding scale donation to make Gembrook Retreat as financially accessible as possible. Funds go towards the maintenance costs of the land and buildings, and to the development of further retreat accommodation and facilities. Suggested donations for overnight stays at David’s Cabin are below:
$10/$25$35/$50 per person per night
Children under 15: free
We can provide doonas and pillows with linen (sheets and pillowcases) at $10 extra. You are welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
Overnight stays in the Treetop Room in Blue Tongue House are $45 per night for the room.
You can choose to make an additional ‘Share-it-around’ donation to help us cover cost of making the cabin financially accessible to those who do not have much money.
Day visit arrangements can also be made. Please contact us for more information.
What is Gembrook Retreat doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are following government directions about how we can host. David’s Cabin is a self-contained accommodation space for guests. We greet our guests outside the main house and can show you the way to the cabin. We wipe down high touch surfaces with disinfectant between guests, and ensure that teatowels are washed. We request contact details from all adult guests so we can contact you in the event that someone visiting or living at the Retreat is diagnosed with coronavirus. The Treetop Room at Blue Tongue House is part of a shared household. Hygiene and cleaning provisions will be made in common areas and between guests, and contact details taken of all visitors to the household.
Can I drive to David’s Cabin?
It is not possible to drive right down to the Cabin so you need to be able to transport your belongings and food on foot. The Cabin is 100m downhill from the Gate 2 guest carpark, over an uneven grassy slope. (This means it is also 100m to get back up to the car – something to be prepared for!)
Will I need a torch?
Buildings at Gembrook Retreat have solar powered lighting. If you arrive after dark, we recommend that you bring a torch to find your way down the hill to the retreat buildings as there is minimal lighting.
Is there anywhere to charge my phone?
We have one usb plug in the Cabin, and several in the Meeting House. If you have a 12volt car charger socket, you can use this to charge your device in the Cabin. Note that all our buildings are powered by solar panels on the roof, so you will need to be moderate in your use of power during your retreat. We encourage guests to consider retreating from screen technology during your stay!
How long do the solar lights last?
Good question! It obviously depends on how sunny the day has been, whether the cabin has been used by others directly before your stay and how much power you use. We encourage you to turn off lights when they are not required, charge devices during the daytime (or leave them turned off!) and turn off the fridge overnight and when not required. However, there should be enough power to leave a light to the toilet on overnight.
Is there any work I can do?
It’s always helpful to have the wood and kindling topped up in the Cabin. However, we are not able to direct and supervise work during your stay. If you are interested in working on the land, we have a mailing list for occasional working bees, and we have regular working bees on Fridays for FRoGR members. Let us know if you would like to be added to this list or to join FRoGR (Friends of Gembrook Retreat).
Can I pick flowers?
You will often find a vase of flowers in your retreat accommodation, and you are welcome to take these home with you for a small donation. We ask that you do not pick waratahs or proteas as they may be reserved for other purposes, and they also need to be pruned carefully to ensure good growth in following seasons.
What if there is a bushfire near Gembrook?
Gembrook Retreat has a bushfire policy for the safety of guests and resident caretakers. When travelling or living in bushfire prone areas, individuals need to take final responsibility for their own safety.
Fire Danger Ratings are forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology during the fire season to provide an indication of the level of risk of bush fire on any given day. At Gembrook Retreat these forecasts are used as part of our bushfire survival plan and will impact on our ability to host people. The ratings are as follows:
Low-moderate: guests are encouraged to remain vigilant and aware throughout the bushfire season.
High: Day will be monitored. Leaving may be necessary.
Very High: Day will be monitored. Leaving may be necessary.
Severe: Guests will be informed of the fire danger rating and asked to consider leaving. If guests choose to leave, they will be asked to provide a contact number.
Extreme: All guests will be required to leave before 9am, and asked to provide a contact number.
Code Red: All guests will be required to leave before 9am. Guests will be encouraged to leave the night before and asked to leave a contact number. Guests should contact us by phone to see when they can return.
During the bushfire season, if you wish to have an outdoor fire, please check first with the residents.
Can I extend my stay?
You are welcome to book another stay with us, however, each stay is limited to 3 nights. We figure you might want a shower by then! It also ensures that the Cabin, which is currently our only overnight accommodation, is available for others to book.