In praise of small towns

By Laurel Wilson

I may have said (some dozens of times) how much I enjoy living in the lovely little Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Maleny. We moved here nearly 14 years ago, having had enough of the noise and hassle of the big city. In looking for an alternative to the often indifferent and isolating city suburbs, I told Bob that I wanted to live somewhere that, if I fell over in the street, people would not just ignore me and/or walk over the top of my prone figure. (Photo Qld Health Dept)

Fortunately, neither of us has actually fallen over in the street (though we’ve had our share of accidents – see below). However, we did recently witness an unfortunate who tripped over one of the bollards which are strategically placed to prevent cars from mounting the footpath when parking in the peculiar ‘back in’ manner that prevails in Maleny. The unfortunate trip-ee had barely hit the bitumen before at least three people rushed to her aid and helped her up, having ascertained that nothing more serious than a few bruises and hurt pride had occurred.

In general, we’re both country bumpkins and prefer the P&Q of small town life. Not that it’s ever boring – if so inclined, it’s possible to go out nearly every night of the week and on weekends there is often an ‘approach-approach’ conflict trying to decide which attractive option will win out.

Take this coming weekend for instance. The local Film Society is showing not one, but two films at the Maleny Community Centre on Saturday 16th April – a matinee with the film ‘Tanna’ – ‘a classic tale of forbidden love’, set on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Then at 6pm, you can get a light meal, catered by one of the several local restaurants, followed by the film ‘Looking for Grace’.

If music is more your thing, you would regret news of the demise of the iconic ‘UpFront Club’. However, it is understood that the café will soon re-open under a new name and new management, but with an indication that music will play an important role. Meanwhile, local music promoter Paul ‘Richo’ Richardson is bringing country music stars Kevin Bennett, Lyn Bowtell and Felicity Urquhart to the local RSL hall on Saturday night.  There’s also a Ukulele festival on all weekend at nearby Kenilworth.

Market-goers are well catered for also. The Blackall Range growers’ market at Witta, a few kms out of town, is on the third Saturday of every month, while the RSL is also the venue for the weekly Sunday morning market.

Visitors and locals alike make good use of the Maleny Volunteer Information Centre (to use its full title) to find out about local events and ‘things to do’ in general. The ‘Info Centre’ operates out of a ground floor shop at the Maleny Community Centre, which is in the main street. I volunteer there a couple of times a month and it’s always enjoyable to let visitors know about the many attractions and activities in the area.

For a small town, facilities are quite impressive. We are lucky to still have a local hospital – the Maleny Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. (It would be a foolish bean-counter who tried to close this hospital, on the grounds of ‘efficiency’. Malenyites are sometimes divided over what is good for the town, but this would be one battle that would surely unite the place).

The hospital offers 24 hour a day accident and emergency services, along with medical, palliative care, pharmacy, and a rehabilitation unit. And it still has a kitchen, making meals for the patients as well as for Meals on Wheels.

Bob and I can both vouch for the fine level of care and attention we received there – Bob after his argument several years ago with a small but upset Red-bellied black snake and some years later with an even smaller, but much nastier critter – a paralysis tick, to which he had an allergic reaction. Just prior to Christmas a couple of years ago, I misjudged my footing, fell down some steps and rammed my head into a door frame. All three incidents occasioned visits to our local A&E, where we were treated very promptly and professionally.

I have a small role to play in our local Meals on Wheels organisation, so am occasionally at the back door on the way to the kitchen. There’s a blackboard and chalk outside the door and various wits are known to add droll comments, sometimes about issues of the day (e.g. ‘go the Blues’) sometimes just something to bring a smile. On one day the question at the top of the board was “What makes you happy?” The board was nearly full with several responses, so I reckon that says something pretty positive about the staff at the hospital – a random sample:

“Going on a long walk”; “Being married for 40 years and still in love”; “Music” (I wonder who wrote that?); “Beating the boys at cards”.

A picturesque area, lots of local walking tracks, mild climate, a house close to town, good neighbours, several friends in the local area, a wide variety of activities and within an easy drive to the beach, or even Brisbane, when we are so-inclined. That’s why we love living in this small town. (The nasty little biting ticks and the loud, love-struck Channel-Billed Cuckoo, with his persistent one-note call, are just there to remind us that nowhere’s perfect…)








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April 15, 2016 3:10 pm

A real warming value for Maleny…a
ren’t we lucky…I am in Perth Big Smoke at the moment, so a bit of homesickness as I read.
Enjoy the fall….leaves and all.