Steph Ball owner of Ballara Art & Lifestyle Retreat in country South Australia, is a local to the same area I grew up in, and have a deep attachment with, the Yorke Peninsula. I grew up about 20 minutes away from this beautiful retreat at Warooka, and was very excited to find out about all of the things Steph is up to. Offering retreat style accommodation with all inclusive packages i.e. accommodation, meals and activities, the business has been open for a year, and we are taking a look at what is on offer.
Steph says she has been very fortunate to have inherited Ballara, built in 1910 for her grandfather and his new wife, and she is therefore a 3rd generation caretaker. Ballara was named by her grandmother Millie Baker, in memory of her home town of Ballarat, nothing to do with her married name Ball as some might think….that is coincidence, says Steph! She started the business after a friend who ran a successful Physio and wellbeing business at Ballara decided to move on. “I had to decide whether I would rent it out again or not. I had enjoyed being able to spend time at the house whenever I wished, which is not the case if someone is living there…it becomes their home and neither they nor I would be comfortable with me just hanging out, often!”.
Having artist friends in the area, an art retreat came to mind – somewhere artists could come to relax and work on their craft, uninterrupted by the pressures of home. This idea grew into the possibility of guests having optional activities to choose from. “I thought we have so many talented people in the district, and I have a venue which I love to share. With an interest in photography, and having done several workshops, I enjoyed very much going away on an all inclusive package where all I had to think about was getting up in time for the sunrise”.
Enthusiasm for this idea was fuelled every time Steph spoke to someone who had something to offer. “They are always very encouraging. I like the idea of Ballara being used as a writer’s retreat as well, and we have also talked about the possibility of a small group coming to stay who may be interested in writing – they could have a workshop during the day, perhaps writing a small murder mystery and then playing it out at a dinner party that night. Do you remember those murder mystery games you could buy?!”.
Steph says that artists and craftspeople, yoga, pilates, massage and wellbeing experts, personal fitness trainers, surf instructors and those who just love the area and would be happy to take guests on a guided tour, could collaborate with them. Yorke Peninsula as a tourist destination is mainly known for fishing, surfing and the wonderful scenery of Innes National Park, but there is so much more.
I can attest to that having grown up in the area and still regularly visiting our family beach shack, and definitely have a trip to Ballara on my list! Steph says she would enjoy taking people to some of those lesser known spots and even some only a local would know, and I recommend you take her up on that, because we Yorke Peninsula people are quite protective of our area and there are lots of hidden gems.
As is always the case, running a business can be hard, but Steph is very passionate about the region and the ideas she has for combining art, health, wellbeing and creativity, with the local beauty. She has had several groups visit Ballara and they enjoy hearing about its history. It is a beautiful old home still in original condition with most of its original furniture and those who have stayed seem to enjoy that feeling of stepping backing in time…oh and of course the wonderful view of the sea and the paddocks from Mrs.Baker’s Backyard.You can find out more about accommodation packages and activities on offer via their website here.