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Glass House Mountains

Home > Sunshine Coast > Walks | Outdoor | Nature | National Parks | Health and Fitness
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published August 12th 2017
Get out in nature and enjoy life
I hadn't been to the Glass House Mountains since the late 1960's early 1970's until this July. Back then I had recently arrived in Brisbane from Launceston in Tasmania and fell in love with Queensland weather, mountains and beaches. I met up with a group of friends who used to go bushwalking and rock climbing and had my first rock climbing experience on Mt Tibrogargan, one of the beautiful Glass House Mountains. I remember it was raining and I climbed up the sheer face of the mountain in my socks. I don't remember any fear as I was with very experienced rock climbers and was securely tied on. In fact, the leader on that trip was Rick White, who started the Mountain Designs outdoor equipment stores. During that period I climbed most of the Glass House Mountains.

Driving through Glass House Mountains 1935
Driving through Glass House Mountains 1935. State Library of Queensland


After a year in Brisbane, I returned to Tasmania for a while, but moved to Townsville soon after where I stayed until moving back to Brisbane in 2003. I saw the Brisbane Bushwalking Club was having their Christmas in July weekend this year at the Glass House Mountains so I signed up for it.

Climbing Glass House Mountains 1970's
Climbing Glass House Mountain


There were about 50 people camped either in the bunkhouse, campervans or tents for the weekend at the Rocky Creek Scout camp on Old Gympie Road. There were a variety of walks and climbs on Saturday ranging from gentle strolls around the base of the mountains to climbing up sheer rock faces and abseiling down. I chose an easy day, which involved climbing Mt Ngungun, which is only 253 metres, and then doing a couple of short bush walks in the area.

Busy on top Mount Ngungun
Busy on top Mount Ngungun


View from top of Mount Ngungun
View from top of Mount Ngungu


Mt Ngungun was very popular and it was wonderful to see so many young people out enjoying the climb. We even saw a man carrying his 4-week-old baby, with its mother walking behind them. Two boys about three or four years old we passed on their way down proudly announced, "we are mountain climbers".


Two proud, happy boys
Two proud, happy mountain climbers


The track is only about 2.8kms long and gently goes up, traversing through open forest with ferns, woodlands and cave overhangs. There are great views from the top of nearby mountains including Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Coonowin and Mount Beewah. It could be slippery in wet weather and there are steep sides, so children do need to be supervised, and teenagers taking selfies who get too close to the edge need to be careful.

Caves on Mt Ngungun
Caves on Mt Ngungun


Climbing down Mt Ngungun
Climbing down Mt Ngungun


After the mountain, our small group of eight walked around the 6 km Trachyte Circuit and the 3.2 km Tibrogargan Circuit. It was a very relaxing day with beautiful views from the mountaintop and the Jack Ferris lookout on the Trachyte Ridge.

Heading down
Way down mountain


I found an interesting large, deep hole on the Trachyte Circuit. It was just off the main track and was fenced off. It could have been an old well.

Big hole on Trachyte Circuit
Big hole on Trachyte Circuit


We ran into a couple from the bushwalking group who had climbed Mount Tibrogargan. The man was holding the top of his head and said a small rock the size of a golf ball had hit him. People do need to be very careful on these mountains because of loose rocks. Rock climbers should probably wear crash helmets.
I was worried about him but was reassured when I learned his girlfriend was an emergency nurse. I saw him later with an ice pack on his head.

Creek on Trachyte Circuit
Creek on Trachyte Circuit


The Tibrogargan circuit track went around the base of Mount Tibrogargan through casuarina groves, open eucalypt and melaleuca forests. We had great views of the mountain and I hope to walk up it one day.

Mt Tibrogargan
Mt Tibrogargan


The Glass House Mountains are only an hour north of Brisbane and have been attracting tourists and locals for many years. I found some old interesting photos of the area in the State Library of Queensland. Captain Cook named the mountains because they reminded him of the chimneys for the glass furnaces in Yorkshire. He wrote in his journal "…these hills lie but a little way inland, and not far 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 the Glass Houses: the northern most of the three is the highest and largest; there are several other peaked hills inland to the northward of these, but these are not nearly so remarkable...'

Tibrogargan track sign
Tibrogargan track sign


The highest peak is Mount Beerwah, at 555 metres. Coonowrin (377 metres), Ngungan (253 metres) and Tibrogargan (364 metres). When I climbed the mountains in the 1970's Coonowrin was called Crookneck. It was closed to the public in 1999 as a result of a geological report.

View from Jack Ferris lookout
View from Jack Ferris lookout


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. The mountains are very significant to Aboriginal people who inhabited the area including the Jinibara and Kabi Kabi people. There are many legends surrounding the mountains.

Walkers on Trachyte Circuit
Walkers on Trachyte Circuit


The mountains are a series of steep-sided volcanic plugs, which dominate the landscape of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. They are formed of rhyolite and trachtyte, lavas that hardened inside the vents of tertiary volcanoes that have been greatly reduced by about 25 million years of erosion.

Pre dinner drinks
Pre dinner drinks


On the way to the campsite on Friday afternoon, I called into the visitor information centre in the Glass House Mountains village. The women in the centre were very helpful and friendly and gave me lots of information and maps about the area.

State Library of Qld Glass House Mountains
State Library of Qld. Glass House Mountains


The Rocky Creek Scout Camp is located on Old Gympie Road, Landsborough. The site covers 100 acres of natural bushland, which is also a wildlife sanctuary. Booking enquiries can be made by telephoning 07 5494 1195.

We spent Friday and Saturday nights around a roaring campfire where Jeannette entertained us with her ukulele. After pre dinner drinks on Saturday night we had our Christmas in July dinner and Secret Santa. Everyone had contributed a gift and food to share, so we had a feast.

Christmas in July feast
Christmas in July feast


There were more activities to choose from on Sunday and Monday. Some people did more bush walking and climbing, and others did bike riding. I went kayaking with a small group on the Ewen Maddock dam. The dam is on Addington Creek and the dam wall is 666 m and was completed in 1982. There is a lovely beach area, playground and picnic tables and toilets. It is a fair way to the launch site, but it is on a concrete path so having wheels is a good idea if you have a heavy kayak or canoe. Ewen Maddock Dam is a popular recreation destination for locals and visitors. It is an un-gated dam, meaning that when it reaches 100 per cent capacity, water flows over the spillway and safely out of the dam. The dam is named after an early pioneer of Mooloolah whose family built a small cottage where the base of the dam wall is today.

Kayaking bushwalkers on Ewen Maddock dam
Kayaking bushwalkers on Ewen Maddock dam


Beach at Ewen Maddock dam
Beach at Ewen Maddock dam


We enjoyed our paddle and saw cormorants and pelicans on the dam. We also enjoyed our cake afterwards, which topped off a great weekend for me.

Blue flower on track
Blue flower on track


It was wonderful to go back to the Glass House Mountains again after so many years. It even inspired me to look through my old photos. I found a couple of rock climbing ones, but am not sure where they were taken. In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Glass House Mountains was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "Natural attraction". It is almost Spring, so treat yourself to a visit to this beautiful area and become a mountain climber like those two proud little boys.

[LINK=https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/glass-house-mountains/pdf/ghmtns-walks-map.pdf]Glass House Mountains walking tracks information and maps



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Why? Adventurous outdoor activity
When: Anytime
Where: Glass House Mountains, and Ewen Maddock Dam
Cost: Free - camping fees if camping
Your Comment
Wonderful article Roz ! Such a beautiful area. 😊
by hdona (score: 1|43) 40 days ago
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