Life is a journey for all of us but the road is longer for some. If you watched TV in the 70s and 80s you’ll remember the Leyland Brothers well. The song that opened the show gets the nostalgia pumping but knowing what happened to these gentle adventurers decades on will certainly make you smile. They’ve been on a journey to move into a retirement village in Maleny in the past year and we met with them to hear their story.
Mal Leyland and his brother Mike devoted their lives to bringing the ultimate Australian experiences to our TV screens. They made a career of travelling all over the countryside and producing the famed Leyland Brothers TV show. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2009 at the age of 68, but Mal is alive and well. Now 70 years old, he continues on his adventures.
He is still travelling and discovering hidden gems off the beaten track from his new home base at Sunstone Gardens in Maleny while continuing to write about his adventures. Not so long ago he and his wife Laraine made some big decisions to free themselves from their rural property and downsize – never an easy decision, but even harder for a man who has put down roots after many years of travelling for TV.
Mal and his wife of 45 years decided life needed to be a little easier. They considered the idea of downsizing after living on acreage for 12 years. They chose to move seven hours north from the regional NSW town of Glen Innes to a hinterland town that still feels like the country. One year on from their big move, they sigh with the relief of not having to tend a large property.
I met with Mal last week. It was terrific to see him, this childhood TV icon I used to watch.
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His downsizing story is one many at Starts at 60 understand and are perhaps considering so it was great to hear first hand. In their late 40s or 50s many people sought out rural lifestyles just like Mal and Laraine.
They were living an almost self sufficient lifestyle on a 25 acre property. Mal says looking after cows, goats, pigs and fruit trees was something he loved but after 12 years, with a few more aches and pains than he used to have, it all became a bit of a chore and a whole lot harder to keep up with. “We opted for a new home in a different kind of village, they call it a lifestyle village and we’ve certainly been impressed with the change”.
Mal urged me not to make him sound like a marketing brochure for the place they live in. “I don’t want to sound cheesy,” he said. “We couldn’t be more delighted to have a drink at the bar, play pool with neighbouring residents, not having to mow the grass or tend the animals and never able to travel anywhere easily”.
He talked about the place they live in now as country village lifestyle meets holiday resort. If I hadn’t been there to meet with him, I wouldn’t have believed him; he made it sound so good. Mal and Laraine are living at a Living Gems Lifestyle Resort in Maleny behind the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The place has so much going for it, we couldn’t believe our eyes.
Mal said from the time they discovered this kind of lifestyle they took years to decide on the move. “We didn’t want to be isolated in our home in the country. We talked about it for a long time; it was not a move we made easily or without a lot of consideration. At first we didn’t want to move but together we explored what might be possible if we were to make the change. And how hard it would be to sell and build a place in this village”.
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“We love Maleny and the semi-rural lifestyle. We didn’t feel we were moving back to a big city. The resort-style village seemed to fit the bill, giving us back some of the social network we left behind when we moved to the country. Having the ability to design our own home was something we never thought would be possible in a village but here it was part of the deal”.
“The money we could put away after selling the farm and buying the house outright helped us make the decision, but ultimately it was the lifestyle we wanted, it all added up”.
“When we aren’t travelling we now have people to relax with,” he said. Mal waved his hands at the resort pool and bowling green beyond. “It sure opened our eyes to a whole new world”.
Do you remember the Leylands?
This interview was arranged by the team at Living Gems who are a sponsor of Starts at 60. Our team went to Sunstone Gardens at Maleny to meet Mal Leyland and wrote this article from our own experience. For more information on Living Gems or Sunstone Gardens click here.