After our day at the Queensland Garden Expo we found our way to the Airbnb overnight accommodation and had spent the night in a small, but cosy bedroom, sleeping in a large comfortable bed. Now we are sitting in the sun on the patio, having our morning cuppa with the company of Sooty, the resident Norwegian Forest cat.
Winter in Queensland is the most glorious of seasons. Ok so born and bred Queenslanders shiver and complain about the 8 to 10C night temperatures, but most days dawn with the sun rising into a beautiful, cloudless, azure blue sky. The air is crisp and clear and the temperature rises to 22-24C, for me, with my English background, it is climate perfection.
Today we are going home via the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, stopping for lunch at a quaint village called Maleny.
But first let me take you back to 1993. This was the first time I discovered this small hidden gem in the Blackall Ranges. It was when Jack brought me, from New Zealand, on my first foray to Australia. We spent 6 months travelling along the east coast, on the Greyhound buses, backpacking from Sydney to Cairns and back . A great adventure and I fell in love with Australia. We stayed in youth hostels and WWOOFED (find out about it here). We loved the experience and became WWOOFing addicts, never knowing where our next bed would be. We slept in huts, old dilapidated caravans, 5 star homes with our own ensuite, leaky tent in a rainforest, cabins on a cane farm, large open sided barn on a banana plantation with cane toads and huntsman spiders for company, meeting some interesting, weird and wonderful, alternative lifestyle people on their organic based, dream farms, all with their unique stories. Back then permaculture was in its infancy, a new concept of gardening, and in the organic world of WWoofing we learnt a lot about it. When I got back to New Zealand I was full of ideas for no dig gardening, composting, mulching, companion planting, biodynamic gardening and many other ideas.
One of the places we Wwoofed at was Maleny. This was when I discovered the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and we Wwoofed for a couple that had come from Sydney to do what is now known as a “tree-change” on a small lifestyle property. Middle class retirees were discovering the joys of one- and two-acre allotments on which to build ranch-style homes. Since then, Maleny has emerged as something of an ‘arts and crafts’ centre, benefiting from hinterland tourism, as it is an easy day-trip from both Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. In the 1980s Maleny attracted sculptors, painters, craftspeople and potters who provided the local galleries with their works. Soon the galleries and craft shops were complemented by cafes, coffee lounges and restaurants. Maleny was also just starting its own form of the Barter system and printing its own money “Baroons” to be used in the town. ( this was discontinued in 2009). Very much an alternative community. Back in the 1990’s the population was approximately 1500, in the last census it was 5843. It was also determined not to have any big multinational companies set up business, being very supportive of local business. In 2005 residents doggedly resisted a proposal to develop a Woolworths supermarket. The retailing giant ultimately prevailed, opening the controversial store on the banks of the Obi Obi Creek in April 2006. So it will be interesting to see if it has changed much.
The drive along the southern edge of the Blackall Range is 436 m above sea-level, the air is cool and fresh. The views are panoramic, with dramatic views across to the Sunshine Coast and to the Glass House Mountains.
It was time for brunch when we arrived at Maleny and it was busy, crowded with day-trippers. We were lucky to find a parking spot just behind the main street. Then wandered along Maple Street reading the menus outside the many cafes and strolling into the excellent galleries and art shops. One of the main reasons people visit Maleny and the surrounding towns is the profusion of galleries in the area. The area is noted for the high quality of its art works, I went into every gallery, craft and bookshop I could find, treasure troves of delight for my artistic soul. I was pleased to see it still had the colourful organic heart beating in a prominent place in the main street. The spirit of the alternative lifestyle is to “give-back, reuse, recycle and make-do” and this was displayed in this colourful, free book box.
Making a decision for lunch was difficult, so many to choose from and all with delicious sounding menus. Finally we settled on Monica’s Café it advertised locally sourced food and free trade coffee. A place that looked to have lots of locals enjoying lunch, on the sunny side of the street, with tables outside in the sunshine where we could watch the passing parade and do a sketch of the heritage listed Maleny Lodge on the opposite side of the street.
Wandering around town after an extremely tasty feed I was pleased to see it still had quirky, tempting side lanes that just called to be explored and photographed. The prayer flags caught my eye so I turned into this narrow side alley
Always on the look out for gardening ideas I spotted this. Can you see it? What a great idea to use the spare pallets we still have…
The lane opened into the “Sherpa’s Kitchen” delicious curry smells were wafting out. Don’t you sometimes wish you could have another meal… But this courtyard was quite shady and a bit chilly, definitely a summer venue.
Round the next corner was the Maleny interpretation of a food court. It was in the sun and busy.
Maleny still has the attractive small village vibe and a pleasant place to spend a few hours. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and it brought back many memories.
But after chatting with those cute little parakeets at the expo yesterday they whispered in Jack’s ear, “come up and visit me sometime”. So now we are on a mission to find the Maleny Botanic Gardens where 500 assorted birds call home in the huge bird world aviaries.
But that will be my next story…
Cathy of “wander essence” has a series of invitations throughout the month, inviting bloggers to join her. So check this link for the different options available from photography to prose and writing about past and present journeys. This post is different to my usual posts as I have rambled down memory lane and, I hope, given you a look into when I first visited Australia and the comparison with today.