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 products, but even if you really enjoy shopping you can easily get through the little town in an hour.
The trouble with Australia, like the US, 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 what I saw of the countryside looked stunningly beautiful. Renting a car for just one person is not economically viable though, so I stuck with what I could walk to.
I liked the little town immensely. It had a good sense of community there, 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.