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Photo: Maxime Willems, founder of MW Therapy and Training

In the heart of Ballina's north coast, Sugar Beach Ranch is about to debut an exclusive women-only getaway featuring transformative equine therapy.

Sweet Retreats, which launches this Friday, features three-day, women-only retreats that will see guests immerse themselves in the sprawling natural playground surrounding the fully equipped horse ranch—not to mention getting up close and personal with the friendly and beautiful horses.

The property was owned by music industry legend Chris ‘CM’ Murphy OAM, the late manager of  INXS.

It is now run by his eldest daughter, Stevey Arena, alongside her husband and two children. Backed by more than 20 years of experience as a corporate events planner, Stevey opened the gates of Sugar Beach Ranch to carry on her father’s legacy. 

“After years of living in the fast lane, my father moved to Sugar Beach Ranch to indulge his love of agriculture and horse training,” Stevey said.

“The times we spent riding along the beach and exploring the lush hinterland are some of my fondest memories. With our new Sweet Retreats, we’re  allowing others to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the digital age and rediscover their authentic self alongside our beautiful horses.” 

Curated by women, for women, Sweet Retreats provides guests with an opportunity to unwind,  relax, and cultivate inner peace – but not just with yoga and green juices.

horses on a beach

Drawing on the principles  of equine therapy, Stevey, alongside equine psychotherapist Maxime Willems, will take guests on a  journey of self-discovery. 

“As creatures of prey, horses are master observers and  hypersensitive to movement and emotions,” Maxime said.


“They offer instant feedback on our own personal presence and  relational dynamics, but they do so without judgement.  Handling and interacting with horses can teach you how to be more present, which is something we could all use a little more help with.” 

Attendees are treated to five-star cuisine and given the chance to participate in grounding activities such as yoga,  meditation and breathwork, alfresco equine painting, sound bowl healing, regenerative planting, dove releases, and nature therapy and ceremonies.

Guests will glamp under the stars in a private or shared tent and have access to a resort-sized  magnesium swimming pool, plus the 60 stunning acres of the  ranch’s estate. 

Sweet Retreats Women’s Wellness Retreats will be held on May 24th-26th, June 28th-30th, and  September 20th-22nd.



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