The awe-inspiring Glass House Mountains

This view!

View of Glass House Mtns
View of Glass House Mtns

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. 


Aboriginal Legend

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.

Glass House mtns views
Coonowrin is in front with its crooked neck

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.

Map of Glass House Mountains
Map of Glass House Mountains

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.

Deb xx

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31 Replies to “The awe-inspiring Glass House Mountains”

    1. It really was an amazing place Amy and I’m so glad we finally got to visit. We intend to go back again when we can, and investigate more. Thanks for visiting with me.


    1. Yes I thought the exact same thing Janis, it was much more interesting and descriptive. It was an amazing environment but I just couldn’t capture the scale of them in my photos or get them all in one photo. I hope you got the gist of them!!


  1. Oh, Deb – Trying not to tell random people to stay away from the edge completely made me smile. I also fear hiking near steep dropoffs where one wrong move could send me flying. Still, that hike does sound like something that I would love to do. Another reason for me to come out that way. (How many more reasons could one gal need?) Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I’ve driven past these intriguing monoliths regularly and visited them on a few occasions. My daughter lives on the Sunshine Coast so we’ve had plenty of trips up here from the Gold Coast. They are magical and the aboriginal folklore stories are very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A gorgeous spot & you should have come the extra 30 mins to see me. Sigh. I haven’t walked it & not sure that I will but I adore the story – it’s so lyrical and much nicer than the geological explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The views are breathtaking, Deb! No words to truly describe the blue skies. Always a good reminder how the Earth is still forming and reforming. Interesting background information from James Cook. It is also interesting how legends are born and handed down. “…it takes many years to give birth to a mountain.” A great deal of wisdom here. A fascinating and beautiful post, Deb!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I loved the stories and that line in particular Erica, maybe we relate to it because we’re mothers :). I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it and I’m so happy we finally made it up there. I did have you in mind as we set out for our hike 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Glass House Mountains look amazing Deb, and I loved the Aboriginal stories. Brings the whole area to life and gives it real character doesn’t it? Looks like wonderful hiking and climbing country too. What a fabulous day out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The mountains look very majestic Deb – and good on you for having a go at climbing – despite your fears. We don’t have any local mountains near here so I don’t have to feel guilty for having no desire at all to haul my middle-aged body up to great heights!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome. Loved the video too. Thank you for sharing the legend! I loved it, I kept wanting the parents to say, we forgive! I have 2 artificial joints, and while I have to walk the dog 3x every day, I try to keep my walking these days on relatively level ground. But my husband and I had a similar hiking adventure back in 2007 in Tennessee, when I was in better shape. I too thought it would be an easy hike, but he was so miserable on the way back down the mountain, I kept threatening to call his son, so he could say goodbye! Fortunatately, the hike back down was uneventful! Best, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow that sounds like a very stressful hike Michele, glad it ended well!! I love the legend as it brings the whole area to life. Thanks for stopping by and enjoying the amazing Glass House mountains with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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