Magical landscape home to coast’s “most photographed tree”
By Richard Bruinsma
There is an ordinary tree that stands tall and solitary in an open green paddock on Maleny’s southern escarpment, but is most probably the Sunshine Coast’s most photographed tree.
And there really is no reason why that honour is any real surprise.
The tree itself, in an area colloquially known as “One Tree Hill”, seems to exude quiet majesty, indifference to the world’s goings-on, and a reassuring message to relax and enjoy the many simple beauties of the world.
Then, there is the backdrop to the tree that helps underpin these important messages – the Glasshouse Mountains, with their ruggedness, natural beauty, danger, mystery and unwaveringendurance.
Together, the tree and its unpredictable mountain backdrop are quite magical.
For some 15 years, newlyweds have flocked to the paddock for their wedding photos to create not only beautiful photographic memories, but also to breathe in the positivity for an ideal beginning to their new married lives together.
The property has been owned for 99 years (100 years in 2017) by the well-known local Woods family.
Florence Woods told Come On Up newspaper that the community’s interest in the tree and its backdrop first started when the friend of her daughter asked to be allowed to be photographed at the site.
Mrs Woods and her late husband Frank agreed. And, from there, it has grown to attract scores of couples each year – sometimes up to six couples on one day.
On one occasion, she said, a visitor turned up from England after having seen a photo of the tree.
The numerous photographs taken in the paddock are characterised by an almost unending variety of angles and backdrops, and the full spectrum of colours and weather conditions, but all capturing the character and peacefulness of the area.
“I grew up just around the corner from this tree,” newlywed Genie Ludwig said.
“Over the years I have seen many brides have their photos taken there so when it was my turn, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would be included in my photos.
“It has a special place in my heart.”
Genie tied the knot with her sweetheart Kevin Ludwig in September at Flaxton Gardens, a restaurant and function centre located on the range at Flaxton, just near Mapleton, with beautiful gardens and stunning views towards the coastline.
The couple had no doubt they would marry in the Hinterland, as it was their home since childhood, but they also felt it right to support the local wedding industry. The iconic One Tree Hill photography location was always high on the must-do list.
“The tree, the somehow always-green grass, the mountains, the view; I don’t think there is anywhere on the coast quite like it,” Genie explained.
“It is one of those places that you stop and look at and you are instantly in awe of it.
“The Glasshouse Mountains provide the perfect backdrop; no matter what time of day, type of weather or which season you are there, you get something different.
“I love on winter mornings how the fog practically swallows the mountains and all you have left is the peaks showing out the top or the autumn sunsets when the sky fills around the mountains with all sorts of colours.
“They provide an amazing depth to the scenery.”
Mrs Woods said couples photographed at the iconic site are asked to donate $50 for the privilege, with the money donated to the many charities of Maleny.
The family is insistent on the donation, with those who have missed local signage and mistakenly think the paddock is public land, or owned by Sunshine Coast Council, asked to leave the property.
The tree itself has been at that location for at least 51 years, Mrs Woods said, and she hopes it lives for many many more.
“It’s only got one top on it now,” she explained.
“It had two tops and a cyclone came though and took one top off.
“I would hate to see it go because it’s such an icon to me and the people in the district.”
Unfortunately, as in many cases, beautiful locations are often in danger of being loved to death, particularly, in this tree’s case, during the busy season of November and December.
Some wedding parties who visit One Tree Hill do leave rubbish behind, like empty bottles, so all those who use the site are encouraged to take their rubbish away with them to ensure it remains beautiful and open to the public. The few glitches, however, cannot fail to take away the visual and spiritual beauty of the area.
“My photos are everything I could have dreamed them to be,” Genie said.
“On the day, we shared the spot with four other bridal parties, but we still had so many opportunities for beautiful photos in every direction, not just under the tree – plus, our sunset was spectacular.
“I would say that One Tree Hill would have to be by far the most popular site, it represents so much of the Sunshine Coast wedding industry and shows off the best we have to offer.
“Although there are many gorgeous trees around, there is just nothing quite like it.”
The beauty and majesty of the area always remains palpable and unwavering. And, as Mrs Woods explains, it’s even beautiful in the rainy seasons.
“If it’s wet, bring your gum boots,” she advises with a laugh.