Maleny Lodge sits on a peaceful, leafy residential street in rural town Maleny, in Australia’s Sunshine Coast region. The hotel’s surrounded by boutiques and eateries and in the great yonder there’s the Glasshouse Mountains, rainforest and farmland.
Brisbane Airport is the closest, around a 90-minute drive away, which has direct connections across Australasia, to the US, Asia and the Middle East. Brisbane airport is the closest, around a 90-minute drive away, with direct connections across Australasia and to the US, Asia and Middle East. Or, if you’re flying up from a city in the southeast or from Auckland, you can land at the Sunshine Coast airport, about a 45-minute drive from the hotel.
Maleny isn’t as remote as some Australian towns, but there’s not a lot of public transport (aside from the Glasshouse County Coach service from Maleny to Landsborough and Beerwah) and attractions beyond Maleny that you’ll need a bit of horsepower to reach, so hiring a car will serve you well. The lodge has a free car park with one space for each room.
Worth getting out of bed for
Rural town and creative community Maleny (pop. circa 4,000) might not take up much space on the map itself, but the natural beauties of the hinterland surrounding it are immense. Set at the tail end of the mighty Blackall Range and an easy drive from the Sunshine Coast beaches, your time here could be spent on the trail of marsupials, rope swinging into a waterfall, having fun on a dairy farm, or soaking up sun – or taking a day trip to Brisbane. First off, get to know the artsy locals at Maleny Lane, a multi-purpose space where little wooden food huts offer up worldly eats under fairylights, and on weekends twilight dinners and live gigs are held. It’ll give you a feel for the inherent friendliness here. On Sundays, head to RSL Hall to source antiques of the kind you’ll find in the lodge, farm produce and local handicrafts at the weekly market; and acquire more blast-from-the-past homewares, and some fine custom timber furnishings at Antiques & Vintage Treasures and carpenter David Linton’s workshop. Then get out into the green. Keep your eyes peeled for platypi and delightful named birds (willie wagtails, spangled drongos) as you guide yourself along the Obi Obi Boardwalk, or wander through 18,000 native trees and plants along the Maleny Trail, which also has a Poetry Sculpture Trail, Cloud Walk and numerous picnicking spots – if you’re lucky you might see…another platypus. Maleny’s Botanic Gardens and Bird World is the sort of setting – lily-strewn lakes, rose bushes, rare orchids, waterfalls and bijou bridges – where you might find young gamines laughing in a flower crown as their Insta husband snaps away, but it has something for all with globally inspired beds, treehouses to explore and the chance to pirate up with a parrot on your shoulder. Less tame is Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, acres of rainforest teeming with flora, fauna, fungi, feathered and flying things (no platypi though). Walking trails criss-cross it, and there’s a discovery centre where you can learn more about the residents. The Glasshouse Mountains also show off their good side here, but another photo-op aspect can be found at McCarthy’s Lookout. Swimsuit up for splashing about in Gardners Falls, or kayaking across the Baroon Pocket Dam, and if you still feel the need for trees, there are Maleny and Noosa national parks within driving distance. When it comes to beaches, take your towels to Mooloolaba, Maroochydore or Mudjimba; and for galleries galore and a dynamic dining scene, head south to Brisbane.
Maleny enjoys a thriving farm-fed dining scene, with eateries from the casual to the chi-chi, which is just as well because food isn’t served at the lodge. In fact, you need only cross the street to get started – Daawat Indian Restaurant has an epic of a menu with all the classics from across the subcontinent that makes especially good use of the coast’s shellfish. The Terrace is also a dab hand at under-the-sea fare, with a comforting chowder; oysters topped off with bacon and bourbon, Bloody Mary; and wakame with ponzu; reef fish served whole and spicy; and theatrical hot or cold platters. Maleny Hotel’s bistro has dedicated schnitzel and steak menus and reliable gastropub eats, and a leafy deck to dine on; and Capriccio’s, along the banks of Obi Obi Creek, is a third-generation Italian, with pastas, pizzas and meat and fish dishes made to make nonna proud. And, for a meal that ups the romance ante, hire a taxi out to Spicers Tamarind Retreat, where French-trained chef Daniel Jarrett has looked to Thailand for inspiration and serves up wagyu beef tataki, butter pork mandu, hot and sour prawn salad, and orange fish curry, among other fine dines.
Breakfast isn’t served at the hotel, but you’re in Australia, the land of god-tier dining to kick off your day, so, no worries. Stop into Shotgun Espresso – a friendly hangout strewn with plants and mismatched chairs – for baguette French toast topped with roasted rhubarb, strawberries, toasted macadamia nuts and honey whipped cream; a Salty Aunt (anchovies, poached eggs and salsa verde on sourdough, drizzled with hollandaise); mushroom bruschetta with chevre and garlic or a Korean steak sandwich with kimchi mayo. Monica’s Cafe – all white walls, wood and trailing plants – serves breakfast and lunch. Think fruit toast or buckwheat crepes; potato and feta hash cakes with bacon and herby soured cream; or toasties, salads and halloumi burgers (there’s a separate vegan menu too). And be sure to order a few cups of the Tim Adams speciality coffee house blend. A sort of saloon, with mini chandeliers, Sarah’s Unplugged is a family-owned stop which makes a mean chai latte, has a vividly hued display of local artwork, and bakes cakes and muffins worthy of your Insta grid. Tiffany’s spends most of its time as an adorable wedding venue amid jaw-dropping scenery, with its achingly romantic vaulted ceilings, and lofty windows framing the Glasshouse Mountains; but on Sundays, visitors say ‘I do’ to their high tea, a dainty assemblage of precision-cut sandwiches, mini wagyu pies and mixed quiches, pâtisseries and scones with a how-to guide including the queen’s preference (jam on first, allegedly). But what if you’re hungry – for lunch and showpiece views – any other day of the week? Well, Mountain View Cafe has Glasshouse peaks to peep (from on high in the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve) and the likes of milk buns stuffed with pork shoulder and ginger aioli, Mooloolaba king-prawn wraps, Welsh rarebit and their own take on high tea (for groups of six or more). After dollops of cream, those with a high lactose tolerance should hit the local farms for some creamy goodness, stopping at Maleny Dairy for a tasting at the Milkbar, Maleny Cheese for melty bries to dunk in and oozy raclette, and feel the churn at Maleny Food Co whose arm’s length gelato list has flavours like apple pie; lychee, ginger and chocolate; and black cherry, espresso and almond.
Brouhaha in Maleny is a microbrew lab, drinkery and restaurant in a bright airy space where plants cascade from the high ceiling. First, fill up on lemongrass-and-garlic prawns with a herby papaya salad; a pizza topped with pumpkin, pistachio and goat’s cheese; homemade pork scratchings; or a local cheese board, then take a flight of the core range: a lager, a pale, a strawberry/rhubarb sour and a milk stout. Or see what’s pouring from the seasonal tap. And, Maleny Mountain Wines shows its dedication to the grape by being housed in a giant barrel itself, within which very drinkable local grows have been decanted into dinkier barrels.