I recently spent a weekend in Maleny (pronunciation tip: MaLENy), a small town in the hinterland of Queensland’s sunshine coast, just north of Brisbane.
Maleny has a bit of a reputation as a hippie/alternative lifestyle mecca. An old dairy farming area (still famous for its cheese), it has attracted a lot of artisans over recent years. Now the main street is lined with galleries selling artwork, pottery and other kinds of artistic endeavours. There is also an abundance of crystals and ‘new age’ products and more book shops than you would ever expect to see in a town of this size.
There are some interesting shops, but even if you really enjoy shopping you can easily get through the little town in an hour.
Another thing to do in Maleny is to walk along Obi Obi creek looking for platypuses (or platypi, nobody really knows how to plural them). I didn’t get to see any here but I was probably just unlucky.
The trouble with Australia is that they are not prepared for non-drivers. Everyone has a car and public transport is minimal. There are around four buses a day to the nearest rail station (Landsborough, about 20 minutes away), but no way of travelling around the nearby towns without your own transport. It’s a pity, since the surrounding countryside is stunningly beautiful.
One place you can travel to by bus (albeit a somewhat limited service) is the nearby town of Montville (there are about four buses a day; it’s still far easier if you have a car).
Montville is similar to Maleny in many ways, but a lot bigger and more touristy. Plenty of arty/new age shops to browse and some good photo opportunities, but there didn’t seem to be a lot else to it. I definitely preferred Maleny.
I liked Maleny immensely. It seemed to have a good sense of community, of acceptance and of a sense of ‘belonging’ for its residents.
This gave me a chance to sit in the local cafe and indulge in my favourite fantasy, where I buy a big house and rent part of it out on Airbnb whilst I sit in my little workshop making things to sell.
This lasted until I happened to glance in an estate agent window and noticed how much that particular fantasy would cost if I wanted to enact it in Maleny. Ah well; I have to keep looking for the right place. Or start my own little alternative community somewhere.