The picturesque township of Maleny is 425 metres above sea level on the Blackall Range which is part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Maleny, with a population at the 2011 census of 3441, is ideally located some 40 minutes’ drive inland from the popular Sunshine Coast beaches. To the north about forty minutes’ drive away lies Melbourne’s most northern suburb, Noosa! To the south in an hour and a half you can be in Brisbane or at Brisbane’s international airport. The Sunshine Coast airport has direct flights to Sydney, Melbourne Adelaide and New Zealand and is forty minutes away.
The climate is mild with a long term average annual maximum temperature of 24C. and a minimum average of 14C. Summers are generally mild punctuated by the occasional hot day and winter weather is often the best time of the year. Maleny and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland have always been a refuge from the heat of summer for those on the coastal plain and the city of Brisbane.
The area has a strong cultural and spiritual link with the traditional owners of the land. Pathways were used by the traditional owners across the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Of particular importance was the Bunya pine which once only grew on the Blackall Range or in the Bunya Mountains. The traditional owners came together between December and March to enjoy the harvest of the Bunya nut. Hundreds would attend as these gatherings were also an important social event. The meetings of the traditional owners would take place at Lake Baroon some ten minutes’ drive from the Maleny Township.
Through the 1890’s the traditional owners were forced from their lands by encroaching white settlement. Early white pioneers came in search of the magnificent timber found across the Blackall Range. Some of Maleny’s street names echo the memory of the timber harvesting years. Streets named Maple, Myrtle, Bunya and Cedar hark back to these early days. The width of Maleny’s main street was established to allow timber pulling Ox teams to be able to turn around!
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve just five minutes out of town contains 55 hectares of the original rainforest. The visitor can get a wonderful idea of how the Blackall Range appeared to the early settlers. There is a striking Discovery Centre located at the park with brilliant views to the Glass House Mountains and beyond. You will also find a charming 1.7km walk through this National Estate listed sub-tropical rainforest. The reserve is home to an impressive range of flora and fauna with some 100 tree specimens, some between 400 and 500 years old. Over 100 bird species can be found and the delightful Red-Legged Pademelon may hop across the path of an approaching walker. Indeed Maleny and its surrounds are richly endowed with some very popular walks and parks that continue to enchant both residents and visitors alike.
With land being cleared, abundant rain and rich red soil, the focus moved to dairy farming. The lush green hills of Maleny are awash with Kikuyu grass introduced from South Africa in 1919 to support the burgeoning dairy industry. Butter and cheese co-ops and factories were built and the industry flourished. In the 1950’s Maleny supported some 300 dairy farms. Then came deregulation and by 1980 only 20 remained. However from the ashes of this great tradition arose some outstanding business that today are market leaders with highly sought after and award winning products. Cheese and yoghurt from the Maleny district are regular gold medal winners across Australia.
The clean clear environment, abundant rainfall and rich soil have made Maleny a food production icon over many years. This is reflected on the shelves of the local independent supermarket in the main street where literally dozens of local products are stocked. Look for the ‘cow’ illustration on the shelf labels which identifies that the item was locally made!
This tradition of farming and fine local food further manifests itself in the range and diversity of quality restaurants and cafes the township has to offer. There is a broad range of options and the only downside is the difficulty in making a decision. The main street of Maleny reflects a society that enjoys good food, fine conversation, good books and an appreciation of art. It is a place where locals gather to catch up on the latest news or simply enjoy the company of likeminded people.
Culture and creativity have always been an essential part of the spirit of the range. Extraordinary artistic talent continues to be drawn to the beauty and spirituality of the area. Maleny and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are home to many vibrant galleries that present the artistic output this region generates.
There exists a deep and embracing sense of community. This tradition of cooperation was born in the early days of settlement. Schools, community halls, hospitals and dairy co-ops were built from donated land and the sheer hard work of the locals. To this day Maleny has more successful co-ops per head of population than anywhere in Australia.
Maleny and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland have those essential qualities that make it a wonderful place to come home to. It promises a welcome, spirituality and warmth of community with both privacy and accessibility. The weather is mild and it provides good services including both primary and high schools, quality medical and hospital facilities. It is indeed a beautiful place to live in one of the world’s most beautiful places.