Maleny is a Sunshine Coast hinterland town, situated on the Obi Obi Creek in the Blackall Ranges, 80 km north of central Brisbane and 25 km inland from Caloundra. The name appears to derive from the village Malleny, Scotland.
The Blackall Ranges were intensively forested by cedar and other valuable timbers, and for several decades timber-cutting and sawmilling were the principal industries. In 1878 the first selector took up farmland, and a small settlement evolved - the Blackall Range School opened in 1886, and a post office was opened four years later, the same year as the name Maleny was adopted. Dairying grew in importance, and by 1904 Maleny's first butter factory had opened for the budding industry. A second factory opened in 1912. Dairy produce was transported by road to the Landsborough railhead. By this time Maleny was served by additional rudimentary civic facilities: an ES&A bank branch opened in 1906, a hotel (1907), Union church (1908), and a school of the arts. Pugh's Almanac of 1912 listed businesses including auctioneer, baker, butcher, blacksmith, contractors, plumber, saddler, and two store keepers. By the 1920s there were additional storekeepers and a hospital (1920). Two sawmillers had active businesses, and the landscape around the town was dotted with huge tree stumps and pockets of regrowth and virgin scrub.
Maleny has become noted for its dairying, together with orchard and nut plantations. A rainforest reserve has been kept in the Mary Cairncross Park, from which there is a good view of the Glass House Mountains. Cairncross married a local parliamentarian and Minister for Agriculture who also helped to establish the Maleny Cooperative Dairy Association.
Maleny continued mostly as a rural township with a showground, a memorial hospital, five churches and State primary and secondary schools (1897, 1987), until the 1980s when middle class retirees discovered the joys of one- and two-acre allotments on which to build ranch-style homes. Since then, Maleny has emerged as something of an 'arts and crafts' centre, benefiting from hinterland tourism, as it is an easy day-trip from both Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. There are aged-care and retirement facilities near the high school. An inflow of new residents, many swapping city life for a rural lifestyle, has brought development pressures in recent years. In 2005 residents doggedly resisted a proposal to develop a Woolworths supermarket. The retailing giant ultimately prevailed, opening the controversial store on the banks of the Obi Obi Creek in April 2006. In 2009 a group of local retailers proposed to print their own currency, the Baroon Dollar, named after the nearby Baroon Dam. It was to be tenable at participating local businesses (not including Woolworths), but by the end of 2009 the initiative was abandoned.
Maleny's census populations have been:
Maleny and District Centenary Committee, By Obi Obi waters: stories and photographs of early settlement in the Maleny district, Blackall Range, south eastern Queensland, Maleny, The Committee, 1978
C. Rees, Recollections of the early days in Maleny, Caloundra, the Shire of Landsborough Historical Society, 1984