The unique rural community of Maleny is perched high above the Sunshine Coast beaches on the Blackall Range between Brisbane and Noosa and also overlooks South-East Queensland’s amazing Glasshouse Mountains.
It is an area of spectacular views and stands of lush rain forest. Maleny was initially a timber region with virtually all of the Cedar, Beech & Hoop Pine being felled to provide furniture and construction timber for SE Queensland and the UK. Once clearing had been achieved it quickly became a dairy farming area and supported the surrounding areas for many years with all their milk-based products.
Maleny is now better known for its tourist activities and its diverse population! The area is a craft paradise and is home to many nationally recognised artists and art galleries. It is also an area of extreme interest to the eco-tourist.
Other towns on this strip of range are Montville and Mapleton both of which are tourist attractions in their own right!
The Maleny district was first settled by Europeans in the 1870s. Settlers were attracted to the area because of the extensive stands of red cedar. Cedar logs were taken by bullock teams to the coast and then rafted down the Pumicestone Passage to a site on Bribie Island, from where they were loaded on to ships and exported to market. Early selectors included Isaac Burgess (of Landsborough) and Joseph McCarthy, both of who took up land in 1878-9. They were soon joined by other selectors, including the Simpson Brothers and Francis Dunlop, the latter owning the land on which the present day town of Maleny is situated.
Several key settlements emerged by the 1880s: along Obi Obi Creek, later named Maleny; Wootha and Teutoberg. The first school in the district, the Blackall Range School, was established in Wootha in 1886 and the second school at Teutoberg in 1892. Teutoberg, selected predominantly by German settlers, was originally known as Maleny. Indeed, the ‘Maleny Town Reserve’ was originally surveyed there. However, the residents lobbied for the name to be changed to Teutoberg in the late 1880s and the name ‘Maleny’ was transferred to the settlement on Obi Obi Creek. The ‘new’ Maleny subsequently became the town for the district, undoubtedly because it was closer to Landsborough than either Wootha and Witta, a key strategic importance following the extension of the North Coast Railway to
Landsborough in 1890. Teutoberg was renamed Witta in 1916 due to anti-German feeling in Queensland as a result of the Great War. Timber remained an important industry in the Maleny district and several sawmills were erected to mill timber felled on the Blackall Range. However, the dairy industry became increasingly important from the 1890s. Joseph McCarthy pioneered the industry in the district, establishing a dairy farm and small butter factory on his property. Settlers then began to send their cream to a butter factory in South Brisbane. When this factory closed, the settlers decided to form their own co-operative company, named the Maleny Co-Operative Dairy Co. The Company’s first butter factory was opened in 1903. A local journalist noted the importance of the factory to the district in 1923: ‘From the day the company commenced operations Maleny dates her practical progress’ (Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser, 28 December 1923: 6).
The significance of the factory is underscored by the development of the town. An English, Scottish and Australian (ES & A) Bank was opened in 1906 and the Maleny Hotel was erected in 1907. The first butter factory was replaced in 1911 with a new factory building located in Coral Street. A third factory was opened in 1940 adjacent to the second building. The factory closed in the 1960s, but the building still remains extant. The town has subsequently become popular for its collection of ‘arts and craft’ shops. The residential composition of the district has also changed substantially, comprising people who have moved from urban areas (principally Brisbane) seeking a rural, montane lifestyle.