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Glass House Mountains

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Landforms Created by Volcanic Activity
Mount Coonowrin

Mount Coonowrin ... mythic mountain with a 'crooked neck'

© Tourism Queensland

Driving north to the Sunshine Coast along the Bruce Highway from the northern edge of the greater Brisbane metropolitan area, you are likely to see on your left the distinctive towering peak of one of the Glass House Mountains.

This is Mount Coonowrin, also known as Crookneck because of the shape of its peak.

Mount Coonowrin is actually no more than 377 metres high but is the second tallest of the hills or mountains known as Queensland's Glass House Mountains.

Aside from Coonowrin, the other prominent Glass House Mountains are Mount Beerwah, 556 metres high; Mount Tibrogargaan, 364 metres; Mount Tunbubudla or the Twins, 312 and 293 metres; Mount Beerburrum, 278 metres; Mount Coochin, 235 metres; Mount Tibberoowuccum, 220 metres; Mount Miketeebumulgrai, 199m; and Mount Elimbah, also known as The Saddleback, 129 metres; and Wild Horse Mountain or Round Mountain, 123 metres.

Dreamtime mythology

In one of the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, Coonowrin was the son of Beerwah, wife of Tibrogargan. When a disastrous storm hit the area, Tibrogargan asked his eldest, Coonowrin, to bring his mother and siblings to a place of safety.

Fearful of the storm, Coonowrin is said to have fled instead. On knowing of this, Tibrogargan hit him on the back of the head, resulting in Coonowrin's crooked neck, which is the mountain's distinctive feature.

So angered by his son's cowardice, Tibrogargan (now one of the Glass House Mountains) continues to sit with his back to Coonowrin.

National park and state forest

The mountains are part of the Glass House Mountains National Park and nearby Beerburrum State Forest some 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Brisbane.

The park is mainly flat plain with the Glass House Mountains formed when lava flows from volcanic vents created distinctive upstanding landforms called volcanic plugs from 27 million to 26 million years ago.

Why Glass House Mountains?

The mountains were named by English navigator/explorer Captain James Cook who sailed up the Queensland coast in 1770. The shape of the mountains was said to have reminded him of the huge glass furnaces known as glasshouses in his native Yorkshire.

What mountains to climb?

For hikers and mountain climbers, the Glass House Mountains have attracted those wishing to walk into the bush or to scale the heights.

Normally walking tracks allow access to the summits of Mount Beerwah, Mount Tibrogargan and one of the smaller peaks, Mount Ngungun.

The Mount Beerwah Track is said to be currently closed. Check with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management for when it reopens.

Climbing Mount Coonowrin is prohibited due to the danger of rockfalls.

Information on permitted mountain activities including rock climbing and abseiling should be available at the Glass House Mountains information centre at the Glass House Mountains township.

Getting to the Glass House Mountains

From Brisbane, follow the Bruce Highway to Steve Irwin Way, also known as Glass House Mountains Road, before the town of Beerburrum. Continue on Irwin Way until the township of Glass House Mountains.

From towns on the Sunshine Coast, head towards Beerwah, location of Australia Zoo, founded by Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, and get on to Steve Irwin Way in a westerly direction until Glass House Mountains township.

As for a map of the area from the information centre so you can follow the routes to the various mountains you would like to reach.

Where to stay

If planning to be in the area for more than a day, accommodation should be available in the Glass House Mountains township or in the nearby towns of Beerwah or Beerburrum.

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