For many city dwellers, we are surrounded by concrete buildings and skyscrapers. Our smartphones are always nearby, and we lead our lives by watching our wristwatches and ticking off to-do lists. To counterbalance these lives, we sometimes long for a place to escape, a place of solitude and calm, where the scenery is rolling green hills, fresh air, and star-lit skies. These places do exist as we found one only 90 minutes north of Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This is a list of the absolute best things to do in Maleny, Queensland.
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MALENY THINGS TO DO
LONE TREE HILL
One of the most instagrammable places is located in Maleny. If you haven’t heard of it, you may be surprised to know that it a native sour cherry tree that stands by itself in a grassy paddock on the outskirts of town. The sweeping views overlooking the Glass House Mountains is one of the major drawcards and why One Tree Hill is one of the most favoured destinations for wedding photography in this area.
NOTE: The Lone Tree is on private property, and you can not enter without permission. You can admire and take pictures from the side of the road, but if you would like a closer look, the owner requests a $50 fee to enter the premises, which is donated to local charities.
If you’d like a peek at what all the hype is about you will need to know how to get there, which can be a little tricky. The paddock is located on the left-hand side (travelling towards Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World) between 308 & 349 Mountain View Road, Maleny Sunshine Coast.
GLASS HOUSE MOUNTAIN HIKES
The Glass House Mountains are unmistakable, and as you travel around Maleny, they can be witnessed by many view-points. Formed 25-27 million years ago underground by molten rock geologists suggest that the land surface was 300-400 metres above the present level and over millions of years it has eroded to expose these amazing natural formations.
Mount Ngungun is the sixth tallest of the Glass House Mountains and is a popular hike on the Sunshine Coast. The two hour (return), 2.8-kilometre walking track offers spectacular views from the summit (253 metres above sea level). Even though the track is Grade 4, I have read many reviews that said children (some as young as three years old) accomplished the climb.
MALENY BOTANIC GARDENS AND BIRD WORLD
The Maleny Botanic Gardens have a history which started with an 8-year old boy from South Africa who bought his first plant and went on to buy a cattle property in 2005 that he envisaged would be botanical gardens. As we fast forward in time, visitors can now explore over 16 acres of beautifully sculptured gardens, flower displays, waterfalls, and lakes. Surrounded by rainforest and perfectly located high on the escarpment the gardens offer breathtaking views of the Glass House Mountains and countryside. There are over 6 kilometres of walking tracks, and many fun and interesting structures that will amuse the kids from a giant purple chair, fairy house and treehouse boasting the best views in the garden.
A little magic can take you a long way – Roald Dahl
A recent addition to the gardens is the adjoining Maleny Bird World, where you can take a tour through several large bird aviaries that are home to over 700 native and exotic birds from all around the world. The guide will point out the different types of birds and share more information on them as you wander the 1400 mt square aviaries. The tour is approximately 50 minutes and gives you a fabulous encounter to the bird world, and if you’re lucky, you will be able to get up close and personal to the giant Macaw birds or Eclectus parrots.
One of the best things to do with kids on the Sunshine Coast is taking a Maleny dairy tour at the award-winning Maleny Dairies, a family-owned and locally-operated working dairy farm. For those kids who don’t have the chance of experiencing farm life or if you are a mad dairy lover than this is a place not to be missed. Six days a week over four different times you can take a working farm tour of the property where you will first listen to a short film about the history of the farm, and how it has evolved over the times, and is now one of the most well-known dairy farms supplying their products from the Sunshine Coast to just over the New South Wales border in Tweed Heads. After the video, your friendly guide will show you around the working farm, describing the milking process and how the milk is bottled for the consumers.
The kids will love watching the hand milking demonstration with the friendly dairy cow, and the hands-on activities of feeding the chickens in the nearby chicken coop, and the much-anticipated baby calf feeding.
There is never a dull moment on the 90-minute tour, and it concludes with one of the best parts – taste testing. There are sample pots of all delicious custards, yoghurts and flavoured kinds of milk. Don’t forget your cooler bag as you’ll no doubt want to buy some for home. Before leaving you are welcome to stay for a coffee or snack at the Milkbar or if you have brought your picnic hamper, set up outside on the grassy lawns, make use of the BBQs on-site and let the kids enjoy the grandeur of life on the farm.
MARY CAIRNCROSS SCENIC RESERVE
The Mary Cairncross reserve protects more than 20 threatened species of plants and animals within its 55 hectares. There are over 2 kilometres of walking tracks and boardwalks at the reserve. The picturesque rainforest loop will take you around the perimeter of the reserve and is an easy hour stroll through a subtropical environment of towering trees and dense shrubs.
Take note of the map in the Rainforest Discovery Centre as it points out the unique varieties of flora and some animal life you may come across along the way. One of the impressive plant specimens in the reserve is the climbing plant known as the Wonga Vine, which is a statement piece as it acts as an arch over the boardwalk. The Wonga Vine produces white, pink and mauve bell-shaped flowers. What makes this vine special is the sheer size as most gardeners could not imagine one of these vines climbing from tree to tree and growing to such a size.
Speaking of size; the reserve is also home to the red cedars, known as red gold to the early European settlers. This impressive tree is like the king of the rainforest as it soars high into the rainforest canopy, and is one of the largest red cedars ever recorded at 20 feet or 6.14 metres in girth.
Adjoining the Mary Cairncross reserve is a popular lawn area with picnic facilities, toilets and playground for the children. Take a stroll along the butterfly walk that starts from the car park and then finish off the day with a picnic and play in the park.
It’s not hard to work up an appetite, which is a good thing as just in front of the Discovery Centre is the Mountain View Café open for breakfast and lunch. A popular place to dine as the comfortable interior, tasty dishes and alfresco dining overlooking the spectacular Glass House Mountains is hard to resist.
GARDNERS FALLS MALENY & MALENY TRAIL
There are many other gems around the area where you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors, including the Maleny waterfalls. Take a short walk to Gardners Falls and easily accessible waterfall and swimming area. Stop along the way and enjoy a splash in the freshwater rock pools off Obi Obi Creek.
Also following part of the creek is the Maleny Trail, starting from the showgrounds you can choose to walk sections of the trail stopping at the numerous viewing platforms or walk the full 6.7-kilometre pathway that is lined with more than 18,000 trees and plants, allowing you to reconnect with nature in peaceful surroundings. Along the track are BBQ areas, picnic tables, seating, and public toilets. Don’t forget your camera as there are many areas to catch a glimpse of the local platypus.
HINT: The best time to see platypus is at dusk or early in the morning after sunrise.
OTHER THINGS TO DO ON THE SUNSHINE COAST WITH KIDS
One of the best things about the Sunshine Coast is you are not far from a new adventure or a day trip. If the weather turns sour, or if your searching for a change of pace, there are many more family activities on the Sunshine Coast to enjoy.
Find a local treasure, tasty treats and hand-made homewares at the iconic and well-known Eumundi Markets, open Wednesdays and Saturdays. Fun rides, educational tours, and the world’s best ginger products are located at The Ginger Factory. Only a 30-minute drive from Maleny is Strawberry Fields, where you can fill your baskets full of fresh juicy strawberries (seasonal).
Live on the “wild side” at Australia Zoo, where you’ll see over 1,200 animals and wildlife shows on the expansive grounds. For yet another animal experience, but of a different kind, Sea Life Sunshine Coast takes you on an adventure under the sea.
RESTAURANTS IN MALENY
A full day in the outdoors can work up an appetite, which is a good thing if you are planning on visiting the local Maleny Pub. Bistro Bunya in the Maleny Hotel has an extensive menu to cater for all appetites, (including one for the kids) in a relaxed and friendly environment.
If you want to be close to everything in Maleny I highly recommend a local Maleny Airbnb. From guest houses to cabins, apartments, cottages and farm stays, there is something for everyone. If you haven’t stayed in an Airbnb before you can find a discount HERE off your first stay.
CLICK HERE FOR A $55 AUD CREDIT OFF YOUR FIRST BOOKING WITH AIRBNB
Airbnb is one of the most popular forms of accommodation, and many would say are taking over from hotels as they offer the home away from home experience. Read some tips and advice on booking the best Airbnb HERE.
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