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  • Vicki McKenzie

The Glasshouse Mountains - A place of legends and history.

A place where old growth forests stand alongside plantation pines, a place of legends and history.

Bike trails wind respectfully across hiking trails, providing recreation activities amid natural beauty. If harmonious integration can be so well thought out and managed in nature why can we not do so in humanity?

Aboriginal Legend Of The Glass House Mountains.

Back in the far reaches of time, the Earth was a very different place, when storytellers tell of a family living by the sea.

As passed on by old tales Tibrogargan was the father of all the tribes and Beerwah, his wife 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. It is debated that Ngungun, Beerburrum and Coochin do not seem to be mentioned in the legend, (maybe the legend has been altered somewhere back in time).

One day, Tibrogargan was gazing out to sea and alarmingly saw a great rising of the waters. Hurrying off to gather his younger children, in order to flee to the safety of the mountains in the west, he called out to Coonowrin to help his mother Beerwah, who was again with child.

Looking back to see how Coonowrin was assisting Beerwah, Tibrogargan was greatly angered to see him running off alone. He pursued Coonowrin and, raising his club, struck the latter such a mighty blow that it dislodged Coonowrin’s neck, and he has never been able to straighten it since.

When the floods had subsided and the family returned to the plains, the other children teased Coonowrin about his crooked neck. Feeling ashamed, Coonowrin went over to Tibrogargan and asked for his forgiveness, but filled with shame at his son’s cowardice, Tibrogargan could do nothing but weep copious tears, which, trickling along the ground, formed a stream that flowed into the sea. Then Coonowrin went to his brothers and sisters, but they also wept at the shame of their brother’s cowardice. The lamentations of Coonowrin’s parents and of his brothers and sisters at his disgrace explain the presence of the numerous small streams winding between the stunning peaks.

Tibrogargan then called to Coonowrin, asking him why he had deserted his mother. Coonowrin replied that as Beerwah was the biggest of them all she should be able to take care of herself. He did not know that she was again with child, being the reason for her great size. Then Tibrogargan turned his back on his son and vowed that he would never look upon him again.

So today you see Tibrogargan gazing far out to sea so as to never look around at Coonowrin, who hangs his head and cries, his tears running off to the sea. His mother Beerwah is still heavy with child, as it takes a long, long time to give birth to a mountain.

Aboriginal links to the land

This region and the Glass House Mountains themselves were a special meeting place where Aboriginal people gathered for ceremonies and trading. It is indeed a place of spiritual significance, with many ceremonial sites still present and protected today.

Aboriginal people could 'read' environmental signs and the events that heralded another food supply, like a tree flowering. The festivals and gatherings they celebrated included bunya nut festivals, when local food sources were abundant and hundreds of people could be catered for with minimal effort. Early missionaries in this area witnessed gatherings of thousands of people.

The bush could sustain people for thousands of years and the Glass House Mountains area provided many resources from a varied and rich environment, from the river systems, open forests to coastal wetlands and mountain forests.


The Glass House Mountains are intrusive plugs, created by volcanic activity that occurred many millions of years ago. Molten rock filled small vents or intruded as bodies beneath the surface and solidified into hard rocks, trachyte and rhyolite.

Erosion over millions of years has since removed the surrounding exteriors of the volcanic cones and softer sandstone rocks leaving the magnificent landscape features you see today. As the volcanic mountains cooled, interesting vertical columns formed these features are seen today at Mount Beerwah, Mount Ngungun and Mount Coonowrin.

European settlement

During the 1860s vast areas of timber were felled and burnt to make way for farming and stock, changing the life of the Aboriginal people forever. The Caboolture to Landsborough rail line was built in 1890, opening the way for more intensive settlement.

The Beerburrum soldier settlement scheme in the early 1900s, gave ex-servicemen and their families allocations of land, many grew pineapples. Most farms were unsuccessful and farmers turned to the timber industry to survive. A substantial saw-milling town called Campbellville was established on the banks of Coochin Creek and timber was processed and floated downstream to Pumicestone Passage. Today the timber industry still provides timber from the exotic pine and native hardwood timber plantations.

The current forest plantations were planted in the early 1930s and are managed by HQPlantations Pty Ltd. In the 1980s and 1990s the area was replanted with Caribbean pine, slash pine, and a slash-Caribbean pine hybrid, the 'Tibrogargan' and 'Twins' forest management areas are scheduled to be harvested in 2020.

Foresters mark native timbers along watercourses as buffer strips, so that they are preserved. This is done prior to harvesting to protect water quality, prevent erosion and provide corridors for wildlife.

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