Peaceful Songbirds Rainforest Retreat

The end of another competition season means it is time to take a break from training to relax, revive, and rejuvenate. This year my partner, Matt Levy (Paralympic swimmer), and I had the pleasure of spending five indulgent nights at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat in Queensland’s picturesque Tambourine Mountain. Songbirds boasts six luxurious villas and an award-winning restaurant, situated on 50+ acres of pristine emerald rainforest.

Plush King Bed

Our beautifully appointed villa was private and comfortable with everything we needed for a relaxing and peaceful getaway. We felt absolutely spoiled with a plush king-size bed, double spa bath, cosy lounge, gas ember fire place, entertainment system with cable TV, fully stocked bar, and an outdoor deck with spectacular rainforest views. Complimentary tea and coffee is standard in most places, but Songbirds even made that extravagant providing a Delonghi Nespresso Machine with a range of complimentary coffee pods & milk. And for those rare non-coffee drinkers, there was also T2 Tea available in the most adorable little tea pot set.

Rainforest views

If you have read my previous blogs you will know I love nature and animals. Minutes into our stay at Songbirds I spied a Regents Bowerbird making a nest just meters from our balcony. Wildlife euthanises will find themselves in heaven here! As well as wallabies, we spotted many different birds including a very friendly native brush turkey that passed our villa daily.

Native wildlife and vegetation

As a wheelchair user I found Songbirds to be mostly accessible, with the only obstacle some steps on entry to our villa. I could see this easily overcome with a BYO portable ramp or, in my case, a strong man to do all the heavy lifting. Accessibility inside the villa was easy and the bathroom had plenty of space to manoeuvre a wheelchair. However, there are no grab rails inside the bathroom and if you require a showerchair you will need to BYO. The restaurant and reception are accessible only via the staff entrance unless you can manage a gravel path.

Our Villa

Songbirds restaurant is a must! We went for lunch and our meals were exceptional. Staff apologized for not having one ingredient on my partners seafood dish, but generously replaced it with caviar! My dessert, a crème brulee with caramel popcorn was pure decadence! It tasted so good with exquisite presentation, no question why this is an award-winning restaurant!

Our stay exceeded our expectations! Songbirds Rainforest Retreat was truly the perfect place to unwind, recover, and chill-out after such a busy year. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, midweek break, or a stunning venue for a wedding or special function, I highly recommend checking out Songbirds. Thank you Bonnie and crew for your five-star hospitality and superb service. We look forward to our next stay with you!

Photo credits: S.Seipel.


Edible Beauty Australia – Let’s turn beauty inside out!

If you follow me on Instagram @susanseipel.paralympian you will know that I love coffee. It’s the thing that motives me to jump out of bed in the ridiculously early hours of the morning to get to training. It’s a daily habit of mine. Another of which is my skincare routine. So you can imagine my joy when I found a skincare range that not only incorporates coffee as a natural ingredient but also something that I am tirelessly striving for… gold!

You don’t need to be a beauty expert to know an outdoor water sport can be harsh on your epidermis. Everyday my skin is exposed to various weather conditions from extreme heat and damaging UV rays, to freezing cold and drying winds. A training session would not be complete without some sweat and dirt to clog your pores. Not to mention the questionable cleanliness of some of the waterways in which we bask, all too often they are polluted and teeming with nasty bacteria. Having said that, I love my sport and in addition to always wearing sunscreen, having a good skincare routine is essential to combat the daily peril. So let me introduce you to Edible Beauty Australia.


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Edible Beauty Australia is a skincare range that is packed full of natural ingredients that are literally good enough to eat, although you will find the benefits from topical application. Made from pure therapeutic botanical ingredients that are chemical free, contain no animal products (100% vegan), and are cruelty free (not tested on animals).


I have been using the Edible Beauty & Gold Rush Eye Balm and the Edible Beauty & Velvet Coffee Body Butter for a few months now and I absolutely love these products! Firstly, let’s talk about packaging. All products come in recyclable Miron Violet Glass that has protective qualities and stops light passing through and effecting the contents. Thus preserving the integrity of the natural products and extending shelf-life. The other key word that I’m always looking for in regards to packaging is recyclable. An issue which is very important to me which you can read more about in my post Hila Upcycle – saving our planet!

Edible Beauty exceeds my expectations on so many levels. I love how luxurious and generous they are with their ingredients. The Edible Beauty & Gold Rush Eye Balm contains cucumber to reduce puffiness, antioxidant-rich oils to hydrate the eye area, and lavish amounts of gold leaf that you can really see in the pot and see when you apply. Gold has been used in beauty regimes throughout history, particularly among the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Japanese. It is believed that gold rejuvenates the skin and adds an incandescent glow perfect for under the eyes.



The Edible Beauty & Velvet Coffee Body Butter is a indulgent body moisturiser and contouring cream designed to detoxify, nourish, firm and smooth the skin with the added sensual component of smelling like my morning coffee. Believe me, it smells glorious and good enough to eat!

It is the combination of naturopathic traditional with modern nutritional and anti-ageing science that I think founder Anna Mitsios has done so well. She is a naturopath and nutritionist inspired by the incredible power of herbs and natural foods to transform, nourish, and revitalise. Check out the full range of Edible Beauty Australia products on their website and let’s turn beauty inside out.

Photo credits: S.Seipel (top), Edible Beauty Australia Website (middle & bottom).

The Paddle Shop

Only one week to go until racing starts at the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.  I am very proud to be representing my country at my 4th World Championships and will compete in the women’s Paracanoe individual KL2 (kayak) and VL2 (outrigger canoe) races.  Time will tell if all my hard work at training, in the gym and on-water, over the past year will lead to improvements in my performance.

Last year was so incredible with the sport of Paracanoe making it’s debut at the Rio Paralympic Games.  I will never forget hearing the crowd cheering loudly as I crossed the finish line, feeling completely exhausted but relieved and elated in the knowledge that I just made history winning Australia’s first ever Paracanoe medal at Paralympic level!  It’s a hard act to follow…

Consequently, this year I have made a few changes in the hope to shave off those few crucial seconds that make all the difference in sprint racing.  I also have some new equipment that I am very excited about! I am so grateful for the support of The Paddle Shop, who have supplied me with a new outrigger canoe paddle – the Quickblade V Drive.


The Paddle Shop is Australia’s leading supplier of water craft, paddles, clothing and accessories.  They are passionate for all things paddling and are happy to help assist you with exactly what you need whether you are a professional or beginner. They have a wide range of stock at their Mooloolaba showroom, on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast, that allows you to compare brands, styles, and products.

Can’t get to the shop? You can also see their product range online at their website; They ship around Australia and world-wide! Also join me in following them on Facebook for all the latest news, upcoming events, blog post, and general paddling information.

I am so impressed by the The Paddle Shop for their service, friendliness, product range and prices. They really are a one stop shop for all your paddling needs!

Photo credits:  North Coast Foods (top), S.Seipel (middle).



Eco Friendly Foods Initiative

The Eco Friendly Foods Initiative or EFFi for short, is a great company producing nutritional snacks as well as supporting philanthropic projects and campaigns.  I have always had a keen interest in nutrition and even studied sports nutrition in 2011. Nutrition is a crucial part of sport performance and is also very important for everybody’s general health and wellbeing.  The benefits of a balanced nutritious diet are the driving force behind the EFFi food’s dream, as experienced by creator Carina Ayden.

Carina suffered serious trauma to her spine at seven years old while training as a figure skater. This left her with chronic pain. Over many years she had to undergo numerous surgeries on her spine and during her time in hospital she learnt about the role of nutrition in medical recovery, which was the starting point of her EFFi foods journey. Read Carina’s full story.


EFFi provides plant-based snacks that meet healthy food standards without sacrificing great taste. I personally love the Probiotic Care Bar as a snack between training sessions. With three flavours to choose from, the Probiotic Care Bar combines fiber, protein, antioxidants, and a non-dairy probiotic that aids in digestion and immunity.

Another favourite of mine is the Probiotic Nut Clusters, which is a grain-less granola mix that uses nuts, seeds, and fruit for their nutritional value and delicious flavour. Plant-based superfood Sacha Inchi is the key protein in EFFi’s Probiotic Nut Clusters, as well as delivering healthy fats, vitamins and fiber.


EFFi not only produce great food products, they are committed to sustainability, with all operations of the company guided by the principles of a regenerative, restorative, and circular economy. EFFi also support philanthropic causes in the areas of human rights, the environment, education, and nutrition.

See the full EFFi foods range at their website and learn more about how your purchase helps support people in need.

Photo credits: EFFi Foods Website.

Hila Upcycle – saving our planet!

One of the many things I love about kayaking is that I get to train on the beautiful waterways around the Gold Coast and Brisbane.  During a session, I usually see a range of wildlife enjoying the water from ducks, swans, cormorants, kingfishers and other birds, to water dragons (lizards) and numerous unidentified fish that unexpectedly jump out of the water and scare the life out of you!

Unfortunately, I also see a lot of rubbish floating around in the water mostly, glass bottles and plastic materials.  So, I did a little research and discovered that inorganic waste such as plastic and glass takes a very long time to decompose, if at all! According to the Clean Up Australia website, glass is estimated to take one million years to break down into smaller pieces!

To combat these shocking statistics recycling makes an enormous difference, with glass products able to be recycled infinite times.  Another more sustainable and creative way to reduce waste is upcycling.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation” – Hila Upcycle.

Defined by Wikipedia, upcycling is the process of transforming discarded objects or waste material into a useful product of a higher value and quality with minimal impact on the environment. And unlike the recycling process it uses less energy and produces less emissions and pollution.

I came across Hila Upcycle while searching for gift ideas on Pinterest.  They are a family owned business with 3 generations of experience in the glass industry.  Hila Upcycles’ mission is to create a more sustainable future by offering products that utilise more creativity and less electricity, and reworking materials rescued before ending up in landfill.


And they really do deliver on their promise with a wide range of handmade glass products from drinkware and platters, to jewellery and home décor.  I was absolutely amazed by the creativity and artistry that goes into every piece! With upcycling not only do you get a interesting and one-of-a-kind, handcrafted product, you are contributing positively to our planet!

Photo credits: S.Seipel (top), Hila Upcycle (middle).

Motivation with Fitbit

A question I often get asked as an athlete is… how do you stay motivated?  Motivation is what drives you into action to achieve a goal. I believe that motivation comes when we see results from our efforts. To stay motivated you need a way of measuring your progress which will help you continue on track to reaching your goals.

The great news is the incredible technology to track everyday activity is already available! A great tool that I love for keeping track of my fitness and health goals is my Fitbit Super Watch. I own a Fitbit Surge and I highly recommend it as the ultimate tool to help you stay motivated.

This watch has so many notable features like GPS, heart rate monitor, SmartTrack activities (including daily steps counter), silent alarms and auto sleep monitoring just to name a few.


Here, I want to highlight three of my absolute favourite things about my Fitbit Surge, but for full details and for help choosing the right Fitbit device for your personal needs check out their website.

Firstly, I love that the Fitbit Surge has a large touchscreen display so I can view my stats in real-time and get feedback during an activity! And for additional information the watch wirelessly syncs to an App on my phone or computer so I can analyse all the data in more detail and view it over time. The watch provides more than enough information for you to see real progress and through the App you can choose a range of goals that you can achieve daily.

Secondly, In the gym I love using the heart rate monitor to track my workout intensity. The watch uses a green LED light which reflects off the skin to detect changes in blood flow and measure heart rate. This feature is great to ensure I am hitting the right intensity for my particular workout. And from personal experience, I can say it is much more comfortable wearing a wrist watch than a heart rate monitor strap.

Lastly but not least, an outstanding feature of the Fitbit Surge that I love is the automatic sleep tracking. I believe good quality sleep is crucial for recovery and enables you to perform at your best day in and day out. My Fitbit Surge not only records the duration of my sleep but also the quality of sleep and combined with the App I can arrange my sleep targets and alarms to get the best rest and recovery.

Check out the Fitbit website if you are interested in getting your own Fitbit to help you stay motivated and achieve your goals.

Photo credits: Fitbit Website (top), C.Seipel (middle).


What do athletes do in their down time? Well something I love to do to relax and have fun after a long day training, is host an old fashion board game night with family and friends!

Charity Op Shops are great places to find inexpensive board games, while supporting a worthy cause. One unique game that also supports charity, and that I happily recommend as a family-friendly favourite is… HorsePLAY.

An Australian made and award winning product for its revolutionary design and quality, HorsePLAY is an adventure trivia game and coffee table book all-in-one durable and portable box! It features stunning imagery along with entertaining brainteaser questions. Even with my solid horse knowledge I learnt some new interesting facts while playing this game!


The passionate creator of HorsePLAY, Jacqueline Thompson, has her own incredible story of survival to tell, after her life was saved by a brave 13-year-old girl who found her alone, unconscious, and with serious head injuries after falling off her horse in a National Park.

Her young rescuer, Rachel Higgins, called an ambulance and made the life-saving decision not to remove Jacqueline’s helmet, something which the young hero learnt at Pony Club. After waking from a coma, Jacqueline had to re-learn basic things like walking and talking, but thankfully made a full recovery from her injuries.

After her near-death experience, Jacqueline has a deep appreciation for organisations such as Pony Club and Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and has generously offered to support my favourite charity The McIntyre RDA Centre.

So, with every HorsePLAY game purchased a $10 donation will be given to The McIntyre RDA Centre or a Pony Club of your choice. To find out more visit the HorsePLAY website and don’t forget to nominate The McIntyre RDA Centre for your charitable donation.


Photo credits: James Pittman (top), HorsePLAY (middle & bottom).

Sweet treats from The Stable Co

I must confess I have a sweet tooth. As an athlete, I try my best to eat healthy most of the time but one can’t say no to the occasional pleasurable treat. So, I am always on the lookout for something to soothe my cravings without the guilt!

I stumbled upon The Stable Co and there range of vegan friendly, 100% certift ied organic raw dessert mixes on Instagram. Their gorgeous photos of raw desserts had me wanting to find out for myself… can this really be so easy to make and taste good?


To satisfy my queries I tried the Macadamia & Coconut Bliss Balls as a Christmas treat! A little box wrapped in brown paper arrived at my door. The Stable Co have a zero-waste policy with all the packaging recyclable or compostable. The box contains everything you need to create your goodies, with a few addition fresh ingredients that you need to provide… in this case lemon juice and coconut oil.

It was indeed easy and simple to whip up using my high-speed food processor. A few minutes in the fridge to chill and my unbaked raw dessert was ready to devour. And… YES, they pass the taste test with high distinction! Tasty coconut flavour and sweetened naturally by the medjool dates included in the pack.

Find the full range of hand-packed raw mixes from The Stable Co website and give them a go yourself!

Photo Credits: The Stable Co. Website.