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Maleny Wood Expo celebrates 25 years


Since its inception in 1996, the Maleny Wood Expo, hosted by Barung Landcare,  stands as a testament to the skills and beauty of woodworking and as a beacon for sustainable practices.


By Megan Lee


Born from the vision of Ashley Sewell, a dedicated Queensland forester and environmentalist, the annual Maleny Wood Expo has grown into a cherished gathering, drawing up to 10,000 enthusiasts each year to the Sunshine Coast region. And 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of this long-standing community event.


“The Expos primary aim was to spotlight the sustainable use of native timbers, inviting local and regional artisans to exhibit their creations,” explained General Manager Doug Evans. 


This focus has endured, promoting the nurturing and growing of native timber species for local harvest, as well as the creative use of salvaged or recycled timber, and invasive weeds. It is now firmly ingrained in the Australian woodworkers’ calendar.


“Over the years, other themes and elements have emerged around this focus,” Doug continued. “Initially spotlighting woodworking skills and timber sustainability, the event gradually incorporated historical timber practices, heritage machinery exhibitions, First Nations knowledge and farm forestry initiatives.”


The family-friendly Expo diversified its offerings, incorporating eco-tours, sustainability workshops, and local produce displays, emphasising a holistic approach to environmental conservation and sustainable living. 


“Today the Expo boasts over 150 exhibits selling a range of timber goods from beautifully crafted fine furniture, tools and equipment, to sustainably sourced timber,” said Doug.

“It hosts workshops with master woodworkers, talks with a range of experts, and is Barung Landcare’s biggest education and fundraising event for the year.”


The Expo has also achieved some significant milestones, such as the introduction of the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize in 2004 which rewards innovative craftspersonship and attracts talented woodworkers from across Australia.


With a prize pool of $19,000 in 2024, the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize is a prestigious national woodworking competition supported by Sunshine Coast Council and a range of local community sponsors. Entries are currently open until March 22.


“The greatest success of the Expo is reflected in the community it has built, becoming an annual pilgrimage for woodworking enthusiasts and families alike,” said Doug.


“Although the event has weathered challenges, including a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, its strong return in 2023 was due to the dedication of the woodworking and broader community who keenly supported its return.”


Many woodworkers and stallholders began their timber journey at the Maleny Wood Expo, and the ability to network and meet like-minded craftspeople, mentors and potential collaborators has helped skyrocket the careers of many who continue to return year after year.


The Expo's growth has not just been in size but in depth, expanding its offerings to cater to all ages. The introduction of the Junior Landcare Paddock in 2017 with the support of Queensland Water and Land Carers marked a pivotal moment, empowering younger generations with woodworking skills and environmental awareness.


“In 2024, the Expo will retain its much-loved components, and further expand its youth programs,” shared Doug. 


“It will also integrate a ‘Sustainability Hub’ in collaboration with the Maleny Chamber of Commerce, which will focus on sustainable living solutions. Other features include the return of a Tiny House exhibit, as well as an expanded environmental education program.”

In June 2022, the region achieved international recognition as a UNESCO biosphere - a celebration of the supportive co-existence of people and nature. The Maleny Wood Expo is a perfect example of this in practice.


“Barung Landcare is proud to provide a rich educational and entertaining experience to visitors to the Sunshine Coast with the Maleny Wood Expo,” shared Doug. 


“We believe it will empower people to make more conscious choices about the way they live, consume and interact with nature.”


The Expo is a testament to the enduring spirit of community, craftspersonship, and environmental stewardship. Its legacy transcends timber; it's a celebration of harmony between nature and human ingenuity. 


As it continues to evolve, the Maleny Wood Expo stands as a beacon, guiding communities towards a more sustainable future—one crafted with care from the heart of the Sunshine Coast's hinterland.

 

Tickets to the Maleny Wood Expo are on sale now, visit malenywoodexpo.com

 

The Maleny Wood Expo is proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast.


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