Stewart Pickering moved from Mosman to Maleny in the 1970s and hasn’t looked back. The owner of the Maleny Hotel for nearly 20 years before selling in 1996, Stewart and his wife Gretel have thrived in a community he describes as dedicated and welcoming.
“I had been to the Sunshine Coast on holidays and seen the enormous potential of the area,” he says. “To borrow a description from [demographer] Bernard Salt, Maleny is a lifestyle town for older people.”
Of the 3734 people who call Maleny home, 45 per cent are aged 60 and over but Ray White Maleny agent Rebecca Rea says the town is popular with professional couples wanting to make a green change.
“You can work from home, or it’s only 70 minutes from Brisbane, so the city is still accessible,” says Rea.
“It’s possible to buy big homes on smaller lots that you can lock up and leave, or acreages for hobby farming. A lot of people move from interstate looking for space and the chance to grow vegies and keep chooks.”
One of Rea’s current listings, a luxurious custom-built home surrounded by mountains, is on an enormous 2108 square metres of land, just an hour’s drive away from Brisbane.
You won’t have to give up good food and coffee either. Maleny has more than its fair share of cafes, many of which you’ll find along vibrant Maple Street. There’s also top-quality gelato (made from award-winning local milk) and a host of fabulous cheeses at Maleny Food Co. Local restaurants offer cuisine from as far afield as Nepal, Thailand and Europe.
The eco-conscious community offers organic produce, farmers’ markets and workshops in permaculture, plus it’s a haven for artists and craftspeople whose wares can be found in galleries and boutiques.
Celebrated for its natural beauty, Maleny is set on the eastern slopes of the Blackall Range overlooking the Glass House Mountains, which means nature lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the great outdoors.
The district is home to the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, a 55-hectare remnant of the rainforest that once covered the entire range.From the new Rainforest Discovery Centre you can venture out along walking trails and learn about the diverse animal and plant life of the region.
Maleny’s Botanic Gardens and Bird World is a top spot for a Devonshire tea with a view, while the more adventurous can swim under the waterfall at Gardners Falls, or kayak across the Baroon Pocket Dam, which also offers fishing, picnicking and bushwalking.