High up in the mountains in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is the small historic town of Maleny. It has a reputation for being a bit arty, a bit alternative, and very beautiful. I've been wanting to get there for ages, and over the holidays we finally packed the monkeys into the car and headed off for a family adventure day, destination; Maleny. Won't you come with us?
Driving up the mountain, I was instantly struck by how clean the air felt. The view was amazing, you could see across the Glass House Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. South East Queensland has a sub tropical climate, but up here it was cooler, and the vegetation seemed less jungley somehow.
First stop: Maleny Dairies! This family owned and operated dairy is one of the last remaining independent dairy farms, and they are rightly proud of the quality of their products. They conduct tours of their beautiful farm and production facility for a minimal cost. We absolutely loved it, and I highly recommend it! Remember to take your eski or cooler bag so that you can bring home some delicious milk, yogurt, custard or cheese!
It's about this moment that all that beautiful clean air comes out of me in sighs, and I start wishing that we lived in the country. It's so clean and beautiful, and there is so much open space. Look at those rolling green hills! I think it would be the perfect place to raise a couple of monkeys! I'm sure they would love it too. I do this every time we are in the countryside, and Mr BC just rolls his eyes at me. I'm serious, damn it!
Maleny Dairies own about 120 head of Guernsey cattle. They are very well loved and very productive. Here are some of them having a casual meeting over an early lunch. It's all work work work around here!
There are goats everywhere, and they are not shy! Our tour guide explained that when the elder of the 3 generations retired, he was a bit bored and wanted a constructive hobby - so he started milking goats. The goats soon multiplied and where adding goat milk to the Maleny Dairy product line up, but they where/are a pest. The dairy upgraded it's production facilities which meant that they could no longer handle small volume productions, so the goat milk products ceased. So now they have a lot of hungry, unproductive goats that eat the siding off the barn. The tour guide tried to sell us some but she had no takers.
There where 3 tours running concurrently, of about 15 people each, and they run 2 tours per day. It's very popular, so make sure you book ahead! The guides are lovely and are happy to answer any questions. We where shown the milking shed, and how the machinery works. If you take the afternoon tour, you can see the cows being milked. We also got to see the machinery that processes and packages the milk, as well as a short, light hearted film about the Australian Dairy Industry and Maleny Dairies. Lots of fun!
The gentleman loved this tour and the farm, he kept running ahead to be at the front and asked lots of questions. He wasn't shy about putting his hand up to answer questions and surprised us with his enthusiasm and knowledge - I had no idea he was such an expert on making butter! We were given the opportunity to feed some calves and he was in like a flash! Monkey Boy had to chase him to the bottom of the paddock to have a turn.
I think this calf really likes being part of the tour, what do you think?
The chicken house, just behind this cute rooster, was originally a small farm house that a single farmer actually lived in and farmed from. It was relocated from a few hundred miles north. Can you see where the goats have eaten the siding? Goats just don't care, do they! It is very tiny inside, and it's hard to believe that anyone lived here. It makes a very good chicken house.
There are a few old worldy type things inside on the original farm bench. I was super impressed with the coffee maker, and would have loved to have taken it home. I think you can still buy Kookaburra Electric Kettles, I remember everyone had one when I was little. This one is very cute, it would boil enough for 2 cups of tea. I wonder if the old farmer who lived here had a sweetheart, or any visitors at all?
Our guide gathered us around to give a milking demonstration, which was very informative. She said to give the cow a friendly pat on the bum (she didn't say bum) to let her know that you are there and mean no harm, otherwise you might startle her. Makes sense to me. Then she sprayed us all with milk! Which was very funny, especially as I was standing at the back and missed getting any on me.
She asked if anyone was interested in drinking some milk directly from the cow, and to our surprise The Gentleman put his hand up and stepped forward! He stood there waiting while she squirted milk straight into his open mouth, to gasps from the crowd. I don't know if I would do it (actually I do know, and I wouldn't) but I was super proud of my little man putting himself up there and not caring that no one else wanted to.
Afterwards there was a big glass of ice cold flavoured milk and a tasting session of yogurt and custard, which Monkey Boy was very enthusiastic about, in a laid back, too cool for school kind of way. They had some great cow themed lawn toys to keep the children happy, but for the most part, this little chap was very happy to sit and eat the custard samples.
YES Mr BC, this IS the life. I knew you'd come around.
With the tour finished, we loaded up our car with fresh dairy products and a complementary ice block for the eski, and headed off to the township of Maleny for lunch. The dairy has a very nice cafe that serves lunch, but we where keen to see the rest of the town.
Maleny is a beautiful little town, and it is very clean and tidy - gardens cared for, no litter, with older, well maintained buildings. I didn't even see any graffiti. There are lots of funky shops and cafes, and it reminds me very much of Katoomba, just outside of Sydney. There are lots of groovy second hand shops, galleries showcasing local artists, and funky boutiques. I found a Happy High Herbs and went in to get some Damiana Tea, and the lovely lady behind the counter offered me a cup of freshly brewed nettle tea. How nice was that!
Before I left I grabbed some brochures from a few real estates. I was expecting Mr BC to roll his eyes but he just smiled and nodded! Maybe my dream of living in the country might come true.
And then it was home,with the window open to inhale this amazing view and the beautiful clean air while I could. Do you dream of moving to the country? Maybe not on a dairy farm, but certainly on a few acres to grow vegetables and have some chickens at least. I know I'm not the only one who knows this would be their happy place!