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Nature, culture and history
The craggy peaks of the Glass House Mountains tower above the surrounding Sunshine Coast landscape. The Glass House Mountains were named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. In The Genesis of Queensland (1888), the following extract from Cook's journal on Thursday, 17 May 1770 noted:
“These hills lay 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 glasshouse for this reason I called them the Glass Houses…”
This area is home to koalas, goannas, echidnas and grey kangaroos. Many birds such as kookaburras, cockatoos, lorikeets, rosellas and peregrine falcons can also be seen. The glossy black-cockatoo, which is considered vulnerable to extinction, is found in the Glass House Mountains area.
The Glass House Mountains are intrusive plugs—remnants of volcanic activity that occurred approximately 25–27 million years ago.
Molten rock filled small vents or intruded as bodies beneath the surface and solidified into hard rocks—trachyte and rhyolite.
Millions of years of erosion have removed the surrounding exteriors of the volcanic cones and softer sandstone rocks, leaving the magnificent landscape features you see today.
Interesting vertical columns that formed as the volcanic mountains cooled can be seen at Mount Beerwah and Mount Ngungun.
Aboriginal links to the land
The Glass House Mountains area was a special meeting place where many Aboriginal people gathered for ceremonies and trading. This place is considered spiritually significant with many ceremonial sites still present and protected today.
Aboriginal people could ‘read’ environmental signs and knew that certain events (such as a tree flowering) heralded another food supply. The people here planned large festivals and gatherings such as bunya nut festivals at times when local food sources were peaking. This way, a crowd of hundreds of people could be catered for with minimal effort. Early missionaries in this area saw gatherings of thousands of people.
The bush here sustained people for thousands of years. The Glass House Mountains area provided many resources from a varied and rich environment which included river systems, open forests, coastal wetlands and mountain forests.
During the 1860s, much changed for the Aboriginal people here. Vast areas of timber were felled and burnt to make way for farming and stock. The railway from Caboolture to Landsborough, built in 1890, opened the way for more intensive settlement. As part of the Beerburrum soldier settlement scheme in the early 1900s, ex-servicemen and their families were allocated land and grew pineapples. However, many farms were unsuccessful and farmers turned to the timber industry to survive.
The forest plantations in this area were planted in the early 1930s and are currently managed by HQPlantations Pty Ltd. The 'Tibrogargan' and 'Twins' forest management areas were re-planted in the 1980s and 1990s with Caribbean pine, slash pine, and a slash-Caribbean pine hybrid. Some of these commercial forests have been harvested in recent years.
Timber from these forests will be sold to local timber processors. Queensland's forest plantations are worth more than $1 billion per year and supply 85 percent of the timber used each year by Queensland's regionally-based timber industry.
Before harvesting forest plantations, foresters mark native timbers along watercourses as buffer strips so that they are preserved. These buffer strips protect water quality, prevent erosion and provide corridors for wildlife.
For further information about plantation forests contact HQPlantations Pty Ltd.
Special thanks to the local Aboriginal people for sharing their knowledge. Also special thanks to Stan Tutt for information from his book Sunshine Coast Heritage, and Pat and Sim Symons for information from their book Bush Heritage.
- Glass House Mountains lookout track temporarily closed 27 May to 24 July 2020