The Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Half an hour inland, the Blackall Range forms a stunning backdrop to the popular Sunshine Coast’s beaches. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is home to a number of quaint mountain villages, which offer a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the coastal lowlands. A day trip through these communities will help reconnect you with the naturally rejuvenating power of nature.

If you’re driving north from Brisbane, take the exit onto Steve Irwin Way. Once you get to Landsborough, turn west and head up the range to Maleny.

Originally a timber-cutting and dairying area, Maleny is now a tourist mecca, known as an alternative lifestyle community. As well as being on the Hinterland tourist drive, Maleny attracts daytrippers from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast who are attracted to the various stores, art galleries and specialty shops. Whilst timber-cutting has all but ceased, dairying is still a large part of this rural area.

Just north of Maleny is the township of Montville. Montville was predominantly a logging then farming community, until a tourism boom which commenced during the 1970s. The town is now a popular short break tourist destination for the people of Brisbane, and is famous for its parks and walks. Popular attractions include galleries, restaurants, wineries, clock shop, cheese factories, and craft and clothing shops.

Once you’re ready to venture off the Range, head into Woombye, the Sunshine Coast’s first major settlement now the site of a thriving farmers’ market and annual music festival. Visit the famous Big Pineapple in Nambour with the kids, or splash out with a stunning Asian meal at the renowned Spirit House Restaurant, in Yandina. If the urge for serenity and introspection arises, visit the Chenrezig Institute for Buddhist Studies, at Eudlo, a little piece of Tibet tucked away inside the naturally refreshing Sunshine Coast rainforest.

Walk through the lush rainforests, take in the breathtaking scenery, lose yourself in the natural beauty and serenity of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb one of the ancient volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains, or simply drive up to the Glass House Mountains lookout to take it all in.

There’s something on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for everyone!

How Many Glass House Mountains Are There?

The craggy peaks of the Glass House Mountains tower above the surrounding Sunshine Coast landscape. Most visitors to the area can name three: Beerwah, the largest of the Glass House Mountains; Coonowrin, or Crookneck, the hardest to climb; and Tibrogargan, the one that looks like a gorilla! But how many Glass House Mountains are there?

Well, the answer’s not as straight forward as you might think. I lived in Beerwah for ten years, and I couldn’t have told you at the time…

Let’s start with what we do know:

A view of some of the Glass House Mountains from the fire tower platform on Wild Horse Mountain (123m) in Beerburrum State Forest. Photo: Queensland Government.

There appear to be 13 named peaks in the region, with 15 different summits. From largest to smallest, we have:

  1. Mount Beerwah (555m – 556m)
  2. Mount Coonowrin, or Crookneck (377m)
  3. Mount Tibrogargan (364m)
  4. Mount Tunbubudla, or the Twins (338m and 294m)
  5. Mount Beerburrum (276m – 278m)
  6. Mount Ngungun (253m)
  7. Mount Coochin, or the Coochin Hills (235m and 230m)
  8. Mount Tibberoowuccum (220m)
  9. Mount Miketeebumulgrai (202m)
  10. Wild Horse Mountain (123m)
  11. Mount Elimbah, or the Saddleback (109m)
  12. Mount Cooee (106m)
  13. Round Mountain (approximately 100m?)

Note – September 2019. These heights may not be correct. Various sources provide varying heights, so we will be attempting to verify them over the coming months.

While researching this list, I can understand why people get confused. Even the Wikipedia entry said Wild Horse Mountain and Round Mountain are different names for the same peak. But Wild Horse Mountain is just east of the highway near Beerwah, and Round Mountain is south of Elimbah on the way to Caboolture!

To add to the confusion, in 2006 the Glass House Mountains were added to the National Heritage List, and then the Queensland Heritage Register in 2007, but it appears only ten peaks made the cut. But again, digging a little deeper, those ten are in the Glass House Mountains National Park and the others in Beerburrum Forest Reserve.

To summarise, 13 appears to be the (unverified) lucky number at this stage. We will verify these details in the coming months.

How Were The Glass House Mountains Formed?

The Glass House Mountains are a group of thirteen hills, that rise abruptly from the coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast. They are located near Beerburrum State Forest and Steve Irwin Way, the highest being Mount Beerwah at 556 metres above sea level. The Volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains rise dramatically from the surrounding Sunshine Coast landscape.

The Glasshouse Mountains were formed from volcanic activity about 26-27 million years ago. They were formed as molten rock was forced out of vents from within the earth. As these flows of magma cooled over a period they solidified into conal shapes of hard rocks. The cores of the hills contain columns of comendite from lava, which cools quickly into a hard rock.

At the time, this volcanic activity had pushed the ground level higher, but erosion of the surrounding softer sand stone over millions of years has lowered the ground level to where we live to day. The only testimony to this violent volcanic era are the spectacular volcanic plugs that remain today.

The peaks’ location relative to each other exhibits an alignment that is believed to have occurred due to fracturing.

Mount Beerwah at 556 metres high is the “Mother by legend” and the grandest of all the mountains. The next highest is Mount Tibrogargan, which is relatively smaller at 364 metres, but the most identifiable of all the hills because, from certain angles, it bears a resemblance to a face staring east towards the ocean.

A total of 13 mountains of various sizes cover an area of over 600,000 hectares from Mt Mellum in the north to Round Mountain south of Elimbah, to the lesser Wild Horse Mountain at 123 metres high on the Bruce Highway to the east.

One of the most accessible places to view the mountains from is lookout 589. Just a short drive off Old Gympie Road and from most of the local tourist attractions, the magnificent views are worth every kilometre.