Forest Bathing event in Nambucca State Forest

Letting nature be your therapist

Tomorrow Bowraville resident Lucy Van Sambeek will be introducing the Nambucca Valley to the practice of Nature and Forest Therapy (NFT). 

NFT has been inspired by the traditional Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) which advocates spending time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest for one’s health, wellbeing and healing.

Lucy was one of the first Guides to be trained in Australia by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs based in California. 

As part of her practicum experience, Lucy is holding a free walk to encourage locals to get outside, connect with their backyard, and give ‘forest bathing’ a try.  A NFT walk invites participants on a slow mindful stroll in nature, igniting all of their senses to engage with their surroundings.

The walk will be held in Nambucca State Forest tomorrow, March 4 from 8 to 11am. 

On the Cpt 311/2 Trail, just minutes from the centre of Nambucca Heads, participants will think they are miles from human civilisation as they tune in to the sounds, smells, sensations and tastes of the forest. 

NFT walks generally run for 2-3 hours and cover an area of less than 800 metres.  

We encourage mindfulness through an evolving series of suggested invitations. Each invitation is crafted to help participants slow down and open our senses. As we do this we begin to perceive more deeply the nuances of the constant stream of communications rampant in any natural setting. We learn to let the land and its messages penetrate into our minds and hearts more deeply.

There is a lot of emerging scientific evidence about the health effects of being in the forest.  Simply being in the wilderness has been shown to increase immune function, reduce blood pressure and rates of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, reduce stress and prevent psychosocial stress related illness, improve mood and thinking, increase focus and concentration, improve mental performance and creativity, improve rates of recovery from surgery and illness, increase energy and improve sleep.

Research on forest bathing in Japan is demonstrating that the chemical that evergreen trees emit to protect themselves from germs and pests is the same essential oil that improves the human immune system.  They are called phytoncides and are known to increase cancer-fighting natural killer (NK) cells in our body.

People on regular forest therapy walks report feeling happier, developing deeper more meaningful relationships, feeling more connected with the land and its species, having more energy and developing a more attuned intuition.

NFT is not just about people accessing the healing powers of the forest.  The practice invites humans to enter a mutually beneficial relationship, which involves healing or giving back to the forest or waterway or whatever environment you are in.

Participants can find out more information and book at

About the Guide

Lucy Van Sambeek is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy guide in training with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. 

Recently arriving in the Nambucca Valley, Lucy brings more than 10 years experience as a social worker in remote and urban Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. 

Her passion is bringing opportunities for healing to people through nature, art and storytelling. 

Her therapeutic work brings together the best of Western science and knowledge, whilst respecting and engaging with Indigenous perspectives and world views.