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. 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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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