The Range News is Maleny's premium Weekly Newspaper delivered each Friday
to the People of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland from Glasshouse to
Kenilworth and west to Peachester.

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Maleny Golf Club on the move...
by Max Whitten
  (President, Maleny Golf Club Inc)

Two ruined birthday cakes triggered the birth of the Maleny Golf Club. A misdirected chip by a backyard golfer through the kitchen window showered glass on two newly iced cakes. This provided sufficient incentive for a founding member of the Club to seek facilities less threatening to domestic harmony. By the end of 2000 over 200 Maleny residents thought likewise and the Maleny Golf Club was formed. Membership is now approaching 300.

Efforts to find a suitable site to construct an 18-hole golf course eventually led to Armstrong’s Farm in North Maleny. This former dairy of 60 hectares was compulsorily acquired by Caloundra City Council in August 1995 for effluent disposal, and zoned Open Space. The Club submitted a draft proposal to the council in May 2001 to use Armstrong’s Farm for the golf course. It would be a tight fit, and some of the sloping fairways definitely called for fit golfers; but the land had many good features and offered an excellent use of the sewerage effluent. The proposal called for a community-constructed and -controlled course.

It promised to be environmentally friendly, and compatible with the bordering Obi Obi Creek. Mayor Don Aldous and Councilor Pauline Clayton were positive about the proposal. Likewise, almost unanimous support was given by the Maleny business community. Barung Landcare expressed a separate interest to the council in using the Armstrong property for a large farm forestry plantation. The council decided to put the Club’s request on hold until it appointed a senior Property Manager. Mr Doug Forsyth took up the position in October 2001 and inspected Armstrong’s Farm as his first task.

Mr Forsyth presented a bolder scheme to the Golf Club at its AGM in December 2001. The new proposal took in an adjoining dairy farm; in all a total area of just over 128 ha. The new proposal presumed the sale of residential lots to finance both the additional land purchase and the construction of the golf course. It also envisaged other community uses for the area. Club members were enthusiastic about this scheme. Following lengthy negotiations, the council secured a conditional contract on the adjoining dairy farm by October 6, 2002. In October and November, two meetings were held in Maleny at which Mr Forsyth outlined the main elements of a concept plan that he would submit to the council. These meetings were attended by representatives from some community organizations in Maleny.

Where to from here? The council early this year will decide if the concept has sufficient merit to be put back to the Maleny community for discussion, development, and acceptance or rejection. Some seven months (to August 2003) are envisaged for this consultative process.

It is important to realize that the concept plan to date has only created options and opportunities, not commitments. We have a starting point – the possible use of 128ha of land in North Maleny for a community golf course, for extensive open spaces and other sustainable community uses.

A rough indication of the proposed land usage is as follows: Obi Obi Creek buffer 20ha; golf course 70ha; driving range 3ha; effluent runoff/water storage 3ha; retained house block and Armstrong Heritage House 4ha; community use 3ha; and residential development 25ha.

The housing development, needed to finance the project, is likely to focus community attention. Key issues to be explored during the coming months include: how many residences are needed to finance the development, what proportion will be cluster housing or on separate blocks, access roads, water and energy requirements, effluent disposal, grey water recycling, and renewable energy options. There are a further two adjoining properties, one rural, the other with development rights. The future usage of these should be considered in conjunction with the Golf Course proposal.

The Golf Club has worked with Barung at two levels regarding the proposal. The first relates to Barung’s possible use of some of the land for its Landcare purposes. The second envisages a partnership with the Golf Club in re-vegetating the banks of the Obi Obi Ck between Maleny and Gardner’s Falls. Some 8ha of degraded wetlands and important remnant vegetation will require rehabilitation. Plantings of up to one million trees and shrubs have been suggested. Bicycle and pedestrian access from Maleny to Gardener’s Falls are envisaged.

What will be critical to an outcome that maximizes community benefit for generations to come will undoubtedly be the process used to develop a plan for the council’s consideration over the coming eight or so months. The council’s Maleny Community Advisory Group (CAG) should play a leading role in securing the best outcome from this unique opportunity.

Certainly, 2003 is make or break year for the Maleny Golf Club. It is probably one of the most important community issues that we currently face in Maleny, for golfers and non-golfers alike.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.