25 Years of sustainable woodcraft
Born from the vision of Ashley Sewell, a dedicated Queensland ranger and environmentalist, this annual event 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 Expo’s primary aim was to spotlight the sustainable utilisation of native timbers, inviting local and regional artisans to exhibit their creations. 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.
With this focus at the centre of the Expo, other themes and elements have emerged around it. Initially spotlighting woodworking skills, the event gradually incorporated historical timber practices, heritage machinery exhibitions, First Nations knowledge and farm forestry initiatives. Over time, it diversified its offerings, incorporating eco-tours, sustainability workshops, and local produce displays, emphasising a holistic approach to environmental conservation and sustainable living. The Expo has retained a number of these elements, and today boasts over 150 exhibits selling a range of timber goods from craft to fine furniture, tools and equipment, to sustainably sourced timber. It hosts a diversity of workshops with master woodworkers, talks with a range of experts, and is Barung Landcare’s biggest education and fundraising event for the year.
Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize
The Expo has also achieved significant milestones, such as the introduction of the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize in 2004, recognising innovative woodworking and attracting talented designers from across Australia. With a prize pool of $19,000, the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize is now a prestigious national woodworking competition that is supported by Sunshine Coast Council and a range of local sponsors in the community.
The Expo community
The Expo's success is not merely measured in numbers but in the community it has built. With a dedicated following, the Expo has become an annual pilgrimage for woodworking enthusiasts and families alike. Although the event has weathered challenges, including a 3 year hiatus due to the pandemic, its strong return in 2023 was due to the dedication of the woodworking and broader community who were keen to support its return.
Many woodworkers and stallholders started their 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 have attended and continue to return.
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.
Maleny Wood Expo - kids workshop
Looking ahead to 2024
The Expo plans to keep its much-loved components, further expand its youth programs, and integrate a Sustainability Hub in collaboration with the Maleny Chamber of Commerce. Other features include the return of a Tiny House exhibit, as well as an expanded environmental education program.
Community driven and family-friendly the Expo contributes towards making the Sunshine Coast such a desirable place to live and visit. In June 2022, the region achieved international recognition as a UNESCO biosphere, which demonstrates globally a commitment to live in harmony with the environment, support responsible development and prioritise preserving the natural environment. It is a celebration of the supportive co-existence of people and nature. The Maleny Wood Expo is a perfect example of this in practice.
The Expo isn't merely an event; it's 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.
The Maleny Wood Expo is proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast.
This article Maleny Wood Expo celebrates 25 years has been supplied from the OurSC website and has been published here with permission.