Glass House Mountains

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Glass House Mountains
Aerial photo of Glass House Mountains township with the Glass House Mountains in the distance
Highest point
Peak Mount Beerwah
Elevation 555 m (1,821 ft)
Country Australia
State Queensland
Region South East Queensland
Range coordinates 26°54′S 152°55′E / 26.9°S 152.92°E / -26.9; 152.92Coordinates: 26°54′S 152°55′E / 26.9°S 152.92°E / -26.9; 152.92
Formed by Volcanic plugs
Period Tertiary

The Glass House Mountains are a group of eleven hills that rise abruptly from the coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. The highest mountain is Mount Beerwah at 556 m above sea level, but the most identifiable of all the mountains is Mount Tibrogargan which from some directions appears to be a face staring out to sea.

The mountains were named by explorer Captain James Cook on 17 May 1770.[1] The peaks reminded him of the glass furnaces in his home county of Yorkshire.[2] Matthew Flinders explored the area and climbed Mount Beerburrum after sailing along Pumicestone Passage in 1799. The Glass House Mountains National Landscape was added to the Australian National Heritage List on 3 August 2006.[3] In the land between the peaks, pineapple and poultry farming, as well as commercial forestry and quarrying are the main land uses.[4]


The range was formed as molten lava cooled to form hard rock in the cores of volcanoes between 26-27 million years ago.[5] The source of the lava was from the East Australia hotspot. The cores of the mountains contain columns of comendite from lava which cools quickly into a hard rock.[6] The surrounding softer rocks have been eroded in the subsequent time, forming the spectacular volcanic plugs that remain today.[2] The peaks location relative to each other exhibits an alignment that is believed to have occurred due to fracturing.[4]


Each of the peaks is protected within the Glass House Mountains National Park. Some of the peaks display vertical columns, particularly Mount Coonowrin, Mount Ngungun and Mount Beerwah at the Organ Pipes.[4] These columns are the result of lava contraction. Scattered throughout the mountains are shallow caves which have been formed by wind erosion on rocks that were softened by groundwater.[4] The peaks are culturally significant to the traditional owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people. Under a native title claim, access to the peaks could be restricted as they are considered spiritual places.[2] To the south east of the Glass House Mountains township is an Aboriginal bora ring.[4] The names of each mountain in the range are:

Glass House Mountains viewed from Mary Cairncross Reserve

Aboriginal legend[edit]

The cliffs of Mount Beerwah

The Glass House Mountains are located in the traditional lands of the Gubbi Gubbi people.[7] In the Aboriginal legend the mountains are members of a family with the father being Mount Tibrogargan and the mother Mount Beerwah. All of the other mountains are sons and daughters with the eldest being Mount Coonowrin.

Tibrogargan, the father, observes that the sea is rising and asks that Coonowrin the eldest son help their pregnant mother to safety. Terrified, Coonowrin instead flees. Infuriated by his son's cowardliness, Tibrogargan pursues him and strikes him with his nulla nulla so hard that he dislocates Coonowrin's neck.

Once the danger passes Coonowrin feels tremendous guilt for his actions and asks his father, brothers and sisters for forgiveness but they all weep with shame. This is said to explain the many small streams that flow through the area. Tibrogargan turns his back on Coonowrin and gazes out to sea refusing to look at his son Coonowrin who continues to hang his head in shame and weeps.

Public access[edit]

The mountains are managed by Queensland National Parks and are promoted as a tourist asset. Historically bushwalking and climbing has been undertaken for more than a century. However the two largest mountains have been closed by National Parks in recent years. Firstly Coonowrin in 1999 as a result of a geological report and the development of an adjacent rock quarry. Secondly Beerwah in 2009 as the result of a rock collapse from the caves area across the main tourist track. At this stage there is no indication from NPRSR that Mount Beerwah will be re-opened.[8] Tibrogargan and Ngungun are open to the public for bushwalking and climbing.

Flora and Fauna[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Flashback", page 6, Brisbane News — May 11-17, 2011
  2. ^ a b c Environmental Protection Agency (Queensland) (2000). Heritage Trails of the Great South East. State of Queensland. p. 127. ISBN 0-7345-1008-X. 
  3. ^ "National Heritage Places - Glass House Mountains National Landscape". Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Shilton, Peter (2005). Natural Areas of Queensland. Mount Gravatt, Queensland: Goldpress. pp. 160–162. ISBN 0-9758275-0-2. 
  5. ^ Cohen, B. E., Vasconcelos, P. M., and Knesel, K. M., 2007, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 54, p. 105-125.
  6. ^ Willmott, Warwick (2004). Rocks and Landscapes of the National Parks of Southern Queensland. Brisbane, Queensland: Geological Society of Australia, Queensland Division. p. 162. ISBN 1-876125-46-2. 
  7. ^ Explore Queensland's National Parks. Prahran, Victoria: Explore Australia Publishing. 2008. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-74117-245-4. 
  8. ^ Mount Beerwah track closed - Glass House Mountains National Park. Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. Retrieved 6 May 2013.

External links[edit]