Night life is looking bright

Maleny is coming to life in the evenings

By Kirra Livingstone

GOING, going, gone are the days when you were lucky to get a coffee, glass of wine or a bite to eat in Maleny after 3pm.
Times are a’changin and the hinterland tourist destination is proving it has more to offer than top-class wedding venues and breathtaking vistas.
Maleny’s small businesses weren’t alone as the world copped a big hit during Covid.
But from those damaging times emerged a new breed of entrepreneurs eyeing off opportunities that captured the local and growing domestic tourists – especially those who had ‘discovered’ Maleny for the first time during Covid.
Spill Wine opened in early 2023 and co-owner Clare Hutton said they had seen the nightlife grow well in that time.
“My family lives in Maleny so we have lived here for the last 10 years , it is nice to see that there is some evolution of nightlife,” she said.
“Certainly in the last 12 months, we can see that locals are really wanting there to be more of a nightlife, and more importantly enjoy some variety on the main street, that’s what we are hearing.
“On the back of Brouhaha they are in walking distance and you’ve also got Lane 32 that do an incredible job, as well as the Maleny Hotel, we are seeing more buzz,” Clare added.
Spill was also attempting to overcome the age-old issue of transportation once patrons had enjoyed a few drinks.
“We work with Top of the Range Transfers,” she said.
“It’s a new private transfer company and within a couple of months the demand has been so high that they’ve had to go and buy some more vehicles. So there’s definitely demand for it.
“With these new businesses that are kind of popping their heads up and really helping in that space, that’s also really helped to drive some more foot traffic in the area.
“I think this will inspire more businesses in Maleny to stay open just that little bit longer, if they can see it as a viable option.”
Maleny Chamber of Commerce president, Spencer Shaw, said there has been a growing demand from the Maleny community to bring more nightlife venues to the town.
“Thanks to venues like Maleny Lane we have weekly music and entertainment nights, Maleny Community Centre provides a venue for larger gigs, theatre and author talks,” he said.
“We have a range of long-term restaurants such as the Maleny Hotel and in the last year have seen the addition of Frank Food and Wine, Spill Maleny to the mix and of course Brouhaha.
“There is a growing desire for evening entertainment and dining opportunities and Maleny businesses are rising to meet this demand.”
Spencer added this growth has been caused by an increased population of urban-based retirees and professionals with disposable incomes, who want to have a fun night out.
Finbars Lounge Bar manager, Pat Ferguson said while the nightlife was slowly improving since the pandemic, there are still issues to be addressed.
“Although it is slowly building back up and we have noticed more people making an effort to come out, transport, rising living wages and tax on alcohol, and staffing the business has caused a bit of a down turn for us,” he said.
“I think during COVID everyone got used to staying and drinking at home, so it’s been a bit of an uphill battle trying to get people out again.”