This photo was taken looking over the bay towards the Glass House Mountains which are located in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (Australia).
We have stayed at Scarborough before and this amazing view of the Glass House mountains in the distance was a common sight. At sunset it was especially magnificent.
Surprisingly, we hadn’t been to them before. We’ve seen them from a distance and talked about going but just never got there – until now.
During this latest visit, our daughter and grandson had a prior engagement, Bubs and Blankets in the park no less, a half hour of singing and nursery rhymes followed by a catchup with friends, so we had the morning to ourselves. We decided to take a drive to investigate these craggy looking mountains.
What is the history of these craggy looking peaks?
The magnificent rocky outcrops that make up the Glass House Mountains are actually remnants of volcanic activity that occurred about 25-27 million years ago. As the volcanic mountains cooled stunning vertical columns emerged. Today, they have become iconic landmarks on the Sunshine Coast and a popular location for bushwalkers and hikers to explore. Source
The Glass House Mountains are made up of 11 volcanic peaks, which are listed on Queensland’s and National Heritage registers as landscapes of national importance, due to their cultural significance to the area’s traditional Aboriginal owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people. Historically, this was a special meeting place where Aboriginal people gathered for ceremonies and trading, and many of their ceremonial sites are still present. Source
The 11 peaks are: Beerwah (556 metres); Coonowrin (Crookneck) (377 metres); Tibrogargan and Cooee (364 metres and 177 metres); Ngungun (253 metres); the Coochin Hills (235 and 230 metres); Miketeebumulgrai 199.5m; and Elimbah (Saddleback) 109m. In addition there are a further three areas Beerburrum (278 metres); Tunbubudla (the twins) (294 and 338 metres); and Tibberoowuccum (220 metres).
The Glass House Mountains were named by Lieutenant James Cook, when he was sailing north during his epic journey along Australia’s east coast. He navigated the area on May 17, 1770 in HM Bark Endeavour.
In his journal of that day Cook wrote ‘these hills lie but a little way inland, and not from each other: they are remarkable for the singular form of their elevation, which very much resembles a glass house, and for this reason I called them Glass Houses’.
The glass houses referred to by Cook were the glass making foundries in Yorkshire England which reminded him of a familiar landscape.Source
Now this is where it gets interesting! My daughter told me briefly about the Aboriginal stories of these mountains so I went looking for more detail. I found the stories here and I repeat them for your reading pleasure.
Tibrogargan was the father of all the tribes and Beerwah was his wife, and they had many children.
Coonowrin, the eldest; the twins, Tunbubudla; Miketeebumulgrai; Elimbah whose shoulders were bent because she carried many cares; the little one called Round because she was so fat and small; and the one called Wild Horse since he always strayed away from the others to paddle out to sea.
One day when Tibrogargan was gazing out to sea, he perceived a great rising of the waters. He knew then that there was to be a very great flood and he became worried for Beerwah, who had borne him many children and was again pregnant and would not be able to reach the safety of the mountains in the west without assistance.
So he called to his eldest son, Coonowrin, and told him of the flood which was coming and said, “Take your mother, Beerwah, to the safety of the mountains while I gather your brothers and sisters who are at play and I will bring them along.”
When Tibrogargan looked back to see how Coonowrin was tending to his mother he was dismayed to see him running off alone. Now this was a spiritless thing for Coonowrin to do, and as he had shown himself to be a coward he was to be despised.
Tibrogargan became very angry and he picked up his nulla nulla and chased Coonowrin and cracked him over the head with a mighty blow with such force that it dislocated Coonowrin’s neck, and he has never been able to straighten it since.
By and by, the floods subsided and, when the plains dried out the family was able to return to the place where they lived before. Then, when the other children saw Coonowrin they teased him and called “How did you get your wry neck?” and this made Coonowrin feel ashamed.
Coonowrin went to Tibrogargan and asked for forgiveness, but the law of the tribe would not permit this. And he wept, for his son had disgraced him. Now the shame of this was very great and Tibrogargan’s tears were many and, as they trickled down they formed a stream which winded its way to the sea.
Coonowrin went then to his mother, Beerwah, but she also cried, and her tears became a stream and flowed away to the sea. Then, one by one, he went to his brothers and sisters, but they all cried at their brother’s shame.
Then Tibrogargan called to Coonowrin and asked why he had deserted his mother and Coonowrin replied, “She is the biggest of us all and should be able to take care of herself.” But Coonowrin did not know that his mother was again with child, which was the reason for her grossness. Tibrogargan put his son behind him and vowed he would never look at him again.
Even to this day Tibrogargan gazes far, far out to sea and never looks at Coonowrin. Coonowrin hangs his head in shame and cries, and his tears run off to the sea, and his mother, Beerwah, is still pregnant, for, you see, it takes many years to give birth to a mountain.
Isn’t that a fabulous story? And when you see the mountains you can picture it as exactly the way it reads.
Where exactly are the Glass House Mountains?
We were based in Scarborough so had less than an hour to drive. Apparently it’s only about an hours drive north from Brisbane and an hour south from nearby Noosa.
Climbing mountains for Sunday Stills
I always take my Sunday Still prompts seriously so I am pleased to say I actually walked up one of these mountains and lived to tell the tale – remembering I don’t like heights or edges with steep drops over the side! The Mathematician walked up two of them and was sore for days afterwards as the second one was pretty steep.
We started with Mt Ngungun, a 2.8km walking track through ferny forest, climbing quite nicely on a paved pathway most of the way to the summit. Now this caused me some concern! The warning was written as: This track passes close to cliff edges so please supervise children closely. Take extra care around the summit area in wet weather, as rocks can become very slippery.
I made it up quite easily despite my sore knee, but we suddenly arrived at the rocky outcrop at the top and I had to sit down, and anchor myself before managing to take a selfie (see above photo gallery), trying hard not to tell random people to step back from the edge when I thought they were too close!
The Mathematician left me at this point, holding onto my big rock for security and he wandered up to the extra bit which was along a narrow pathway (well it looked like that to me, although the Mathematician scoffs at this description).
I was quite content to sit and wait for him, apparently the view wasn’t much better anyway and so we enjoyed the 360 degree view from my safe place taking in views of Mt Tibrogargan, Mt Coonowrin and Mt Beerwah. Then I had to get down off the rocks, which I did with my hand held firmly by the Mathematician!!
I made it!
The next one we visited was Mt Beerburrum which we read up about – a paved but very steep walk – so I sat in the car and waited. The Mathematician had read it was only a couple of hundred metres up but what he soon learnt was that to get there he had a 2km walk first – and he thought it was VERY steep, which coming from him was high praise!
Terri’s Sunday Stills prompt this week is mountains and valleys. Cathy at Picture This is hosting Sunday Stills this month, why not pop over to Cathy’s blog and see what others have posted on this theme?
I found this great video to share with you as well, so it will give you more of an idea of what the area is like.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my collection of stories and photos from the Glass House Mountains this week!
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been there!
Wishing you well.
Debbie is an award winning blogger and lives in the small town of Tumbarumba in NSW Australia. Married for 40 years, with three grown up daughters, Debbie and the Mathematician are avid travellers, cyclists and adventurers. Described by others as a ‘hummingbird on speed’ this active mother and grandmother has also received a bravery award from the Queen.
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