Tibrogargan and Beerburrum: Glass House Mountains Part II

Tibrogargan-Jack Ferris Lookout

“Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art” – Oscar Wilde

Several months ago I wrote Ngungun: Glass House Mountains – Part I. Today’s post continues  my memories of this special area with a walk at Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Beerburrum. New followers or those old followers wishing to remind themselves of the geography and history of the region can read Part I here. Or if you prefer, check out the National Parks Site for more information. Mildly Extreme Jane is not feeling very well this week so she can’t guarantee any of this will make sense. I’ve lost some writing mojo, but as they say, “The blog must go on.” Perhaps grab a cup of coffee or something stronger before you start…

 I faced my nemesis while visiting Mt Tibrogargan.  No, it wasn’t a deadly snake, a sheer cliff, heat exhaustion or the dreaded paralysis ticks. If you really want to torture me, make me drive through busy city traffic on unfamiliar roads. This is what was required of me to finally fulfill a childhood dream to visit the Glasshouse Mountains. In Part I, I didn’t really elaborate on the background to my first trip with my daughter but now it’s time to reveal Mildly Extreme Jane’s kryptonite – driving to the north side of Brisbane through busy city traffic! It’s really the only reason it took me so long to visit this destination.

I spent many years happily driving on isolated bulldust, sand, gravel and stony outback roads while avoiding kangaroos, emu, sheep and cattle, but city traffic is a nightmare for me. I’ve had friends ask me how I coped with not having TV, a reliable water supply, fast Internet, shops and close medical care, but I couldn’t understand how they could cope with busy traffic, noise, lack of privacy, having to lock their doors, and not being able to let their children play unsupervised in their yards. The theme of my previous post probably applies here too. What is a challenge to one person is not necessarily a challenge to another. It’s a matter of perspective.

I hadn’t completely committed to this destination until I was actually part-way along the motorway and approaching the required exit. I had two days free and I’d decided to reward my daughter for her dedication to studies. We left at 10am with overnight bags and hiking gear but with no definite plan. We’d either go south to revisit Springbrook National Park on roads I was familiar with or head north through the city and towards the Sunshine Coast area. As I was driving along the motorway the thought struck me, “Why don’t I just treat this driving business as a fun challenge or fear to be conquered in the same way as I enjoy conquering a hiking challenge such as a steep mountain? It’s still a legitimate achievement.” In fact, driving is statistically more dangerous than bushwalking.

So take the exit north we did and the white knuckle journey through Brisbane traffic began. Now, I had tried to memorise the road map and I did resurrect the dodgy “cookie car” GPS from our trip to the snow but somehow I still managed to take the wrong turn and drive through the tunnel to the airport. We finally made it safely to the Glasshouse Mountains Information Centre after an interesting side journey. After a restorative cup of tea to settle my nerves we were itching to tackle the Mt Tibrogargan summit climb.

The countryside out that way is very lush and green for most of the year and Tibrogargan jutting out from the flat landscape made for some attractive views as we approached.

Tibrogargan and a pineapple farm

We stopped by a farm to take photographs and my daughter was curious about the nuts lying on the ground and hanging from the tree. When I was a child, cracking open macadamia nut cases with a hammer was a traditional Christmas event. I hadn’t realised that my daughter had only seen macadamia nuts that had been shelled. Hitting my fingers with a hammer while trying to open nuts was such a strong childhood memory for me that I almost felt guilty that this wasn’t part of my daughter’s memories. Many of my relatives had macadamia trees growing in their back yard so they were such a common sight to me. After being disappointed by how many plants have turned out to be introduced species, I checked to make sure that this plant is indeed indigenous. Yes! My childhood won’t be tainted forever now by disillusionment. I was surprised to discover that macadamias are part of the Protea family. Proteas are one of my favourite Australian flowers.


And here’s a  pineapple as well from a farm near Tibrogargan, in case some readers have never seen how they actually grow. I had a few in my yard that produced tiny pineapples for the possums and the rats. Did I ever imagine they’d share them with humans? Of course not!


We arrived at Tibrogargan to find that the summit climb was closed. Now those of you who ignore signs such as these may think I should have done it anyway, but with heavy fines and potentially dangerous conditions due to loose rocks, I wasn’t going to take that risk. Emergency services have enough to cope with and I can think of many other uses for the hefty fine. While signs like these may not mean much in some other destinations, at Tibrogargan they are there for legitimate safety reasons. So please check the National Park Site for warnings and closures to avoid disappointment or temptations.

After the initial disappointment (or was it actually great relief?)  we headed off to do the class 3, 3.3km circuit walk around the base of Tibrogargan and then moved onto the class 4, 6km Trachyte circuit which took us past the Jack Ferris Lookout .

The base walk took us through blackened gum tree forest punctuated by bright green fern regrowth.

Burnt forest and ferns

Along the way we came to what seems like hiking luxury to me. Queensland National Parks spoil us sometimes with amenities. These are the best seats I’ve ever seen on a walk in a national park. Usually we are content to perch on a rock or fallen log.

Luxury seating

As we walked around the base, Tibrogargan teased us through the trees.

Glimpse of Tibrogargan

The wildlife was hiding that day though. I  didn’t actually see any birds, reptiles or mammals. We’d chosen a busy day to visit. That’s the problem with popular walking tracks. I often see more wildlife in my own backyard.


We came to an eerie section of burnt forest that seemed to have a strange purple-blue glow to it. All at once we both experienced a sense of isolation and my daughter felt it necessary to remind me of a high profile child murder case where the body had been dumped in the Glasshouse Mountains. The complete silence added to the strange mood. For some reason the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, popped into my mind.

Burnt Forest

Burnt forest

We moved further along and instead of completing the base circuit back to the car park we entered the Trachyte Circuit. This took us through dry scrubby terrain, including grass trees and native shrubs in grey sandy soil.

Base of Tibrogargan



nobbly tree

The track was relatively easy, but as we approached the lookout, the land became a little steeper and rockier which is why it’s graded as class 4. The Jack Ferris Lookout gave us views of Tibrogargan, Coonowrin and Beerwah.


Beerwah and Coonowrin


We saw another view of Tibrogargan further along  the track.


Later we entered tall plantation pine forests that reminded us more of Northern American or European Parks. They are due to be harvested in 2020.

Plantation Pine Forest

The last part of the walk gave us views of yet another side of Tibrogargan.


It was an easy, relaxing hike with little challenge.

I recently discovered that the summit climb has re-opened and was considering going back to attempt it. I no longer have any fears of traffic but after watching this video of climbers, I’ve got a slight fear of falling!  Perhaps there will be a part 3 involving the summit  but written posthumously…

That evening we were lucky enough to stay at the Ecolodge near Tibrogargan. The owners have converted old railway carriages and a church into accommodation and dining halls and a kitchen. As the name suggests, protecting the environment is their priority. They also acknowledge and are respectful of the traditional owners of this area, the Gubbi Gubbi and the Jinibarra people.

Railway Carriage Dining Hall

The paradox of our age

As we watched the last of the sun’s rays hit Tibrogargan, the monolith changed colour from cream to yellow to orange and then red.



My daughter was able to indulge in some nut cracking at dinner although I really think the old hammer-smashing-the-thumb method is more authentically Australian!

home grown nuts

The Ecolodge also grows its own coffee.

home grown coffee

Someone there has a sense of humour with signage, and this one is certainly true.

trespassers will be impressed

The next morning we headed off and did the Ngungun walk discussed in Part 1. Here are a couple of pictures to remind you…

Top of Ngungun looking towards highest end.

My daughter playing it safe sitting down so she isn't blown over the edge.

Afterwards we walked up to the Mt Beerburrum Fire Tower. My little old sedan did not like the 1km section of potholed gravel road leading up to the beginning of the walking path but those of you with 4WDs won’t even notice you’ve left the bitumen. The grade 4 walk is a 1.4 km return, very steep smooth concrete path to the very top. I can imagine it being extremely slippery in wet weather. While the surface is smooth enough for a wheelchair, I think it would require great effort to get to the top due to the steep gradient.

Beerburrum path

Fire Tower at the Top of Beerburrum

Once at the top we were hit by gale force winds which had us looking for shelter. The view was impressive though. You may be able to tell by these photos just how breezy it was. The Fire Tower  is used to detect bushfires in surrounding national parks.


Beerburrum view

Beerburrum view

The Glasshouse Mountains are really worth seeing but as they are so popular, you really should consider  a visit in the off season especially if you enjoy viewing wildlife and prefer quiet solitary walking. The highlight for us was  the summit of Ngungun (Part 1). It’s a fantastic walk that I will do again one day. As for attempting the Tibrogargan summit climb, I am still undecided. What do you think? Perhaps you’d like to join me. I’ll probably need someone to catch me…

For more information:

Queensland National Parks

34 thoughts on “Tibrogargan and Beerburrum: Glass House Mountains Part II

  1. What a wonderful post. I enjoyed so much going with you on your walk, all those views of the tops of things makes me smile with pleasure. i am so glad to have found your blog. Sorry you haven’t been well though.

    • Hi Susan,
      Thank you so much for the lovely feedback. I’m very glad you enjoyed it. I love the views from the Glass House Mountains as well and hope to return again. It is a special place. I’m pleased you are following my blog and happy to share my experiences with you. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Thomas, for the “beautiful” feedback. So glad you enjoyed my rambling post. Perhaps one day you’ll make it back to Australia and see these areas for yourself. What a contrast that would be to your own country. Lovely to hear from you.

  2. I can see why this place was on your list of places to go, the views were amazing, and the fauna seems so exotic to some one living in North America. I’m glad that you overcame your fear of traffic to be able to do this post, and I hope that you’re feeling better soon. Also liked the converted railcar from the Ecolodge, it’s good to see that they are putting things to good use rather than discarding them.

    • Yes, the Glass House Mountains certainly didn’t disappoint me and I laugh now at how long it took me to brave the traffic! I find your country equally as exotic and beautiful. I still find it difficult to take in the size of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. So much water that isn’t sea! I loved the converted railway carriages as well. They were actually being given away free to the public apparently, and not many people took up the option. I would have tried to get one if I’d known. Carriages not taken away were broken up and destroyed! What a shame. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m very glad you enjoyed the post. It is always lovely to hear from you.

  3. I love the landscapes your narrative and your humor, and especially the place names you have there. Somehow I relate to them as though I have seen that language before!

    • Thank you for the lovely comments. It’s a funny thing but I also feel the same way about the place names. I don’t know why they seem so familiar and natural…perhaps it’s because they feel so great to actually say…they roll off the tongue so wonderfully perhaps. They are much older languages than we speak today. There were many, many Indigenous languages spoken in Australia when the English first arrived. Sadly many of them are now lost, but attempts are being made to keep the surviving ones alive. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Oh yes the childhood memories of smashing macadamias open – with a rock in my case.
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures once again! And sorry to read you’ve been unwell, hope you feel better soon. Xx

    • Ah, another macadamia nut smasher! Good memories. 🙂 Often we ate as much dirt and bits of shell as actual nut. Thank you for your lovely comments as always. And thanks also for your get well wishes. Nothing too serious so don’t worry. Take good care of yourself now! xx

  5. Hope you are much better now; if not, get better quickly!

    I have fond childhood memories of finding just the right sized hole in concrete within which to place a macadamia, and then smashing it with a brick. Though my thumbs were safe, it regularly bounced off in unknowable directions creating a great risk for shins…

    • Hi Oanh,
      You’ve reminded me of what I used to do too! I had forgotten that. We would try to find little depressions to sit the nuts in sometimes. The adults would get a little annoyed at us because we’d often leave fragments of shells around that hurt barefooted people. Bricks, rocks, hammers…anything to get to those yummy nuts inside. Yes, sometimes those flying nuts could be weapons.
      I’m sure I’ll be feeling better soon. Great to hear from you again. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope 2015 is a good year for you!

    • Hi Steve,
      Most Australians probably haven’t heard of Mt Tibrogargan either although they may be familiar with the general name for the area: The Glass House Mountains. We don’t really have proper mountains like the States. Tibrogargan is more of a hill really. I’m heading back again to try to climb it soon. If I need rescuing by helicopter, it’s possible it may become more well known! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  6. Great post Jane. When did you do the walk? I thought the summit track was supposed to be open again. You definitely made the right decision. National Parks do have a bit of a history of closing down peaks for not much good reason, but from everything I’ve read the dangers on Tibro are/were very real on the summit track and rangers have been very active in handing out fines both there and at Beerwah. In this case the fires destabilised a lot of rock.

    • Hi Cameron. We did this walk back in winter of 2014. Although it was closed, I did see climbers up there! Yes, I found out recently that it’s now open and was hoping to head up there this weekend but am still trying to find someone to come with me. I’ll probably chicken out but would like to at least give it a try and get some photos. It seems like I made a good decision in obeying the signs then! I had my daughter with me as well which always contributes to a “wise” choice… Thanks for reading and commenting. Always great to get your feedback, Cameron. I did try to look for Tibrogargan on your new site, but had trouble finding it. Not unusual for me though to miss things as I am not computer savvy. 😉

      • I don’t think I have written about it, so that would explain that. 🙂 . Funnily, I have never actually been to the summit. Despite climbing numerous routes on the South-East and East faces. Not many climbing routes actually go to the top because of thick vegetation and loose dirty slopes up high.

        I’d be happy to team up for the summit walk sometime if you’d like? I’ll send you an email.

        • Ah, so I am not as computer illiterate as I thought. Did you watch the video link I put of someone else’s climb in my post? It’s a bit shaky but gives a bit of an indication of what it’s like. Apparently only about 100m of difficult stuff (still a challenge for me though!) From what I have seen of your other climbs/hikes you should find it ok.
          Thanks for your offer to team up. I appreciate that. I’m not sure I could keep up with your level of fitness though! It would be great to have some experienced people to help guide me. I’ve got to work now but will check my emails. Thanks!

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the follow and for the nice comments. I’m following your blog now too and just read some of your bike tour posts. Look like a lot of fun. I hope to do that one day. Have a great day.

  7. I can relate to your distaste of crazy city traffic. I think it’s wise to fear those maniacs out there trying to kill each other. Your hike looks marvelous and fun. I do hope you’re feeling way better by now!

    • Hi Gunta,
      I hope you are feeling much better soon as well. Yes, there are some very impatient and risky drivers out there. Even a simple trip to buy groceries has me having to take defensive driving tactics to avoid close calls here. I wish people would view cars as being potential weapons than as fun machines. They have the power to destroy lives and we should be suitably careful with the way we use them.
      Thanks for reading and for your lovely comments as always. I am on the way to recovery. I hope you have a lovely week! 🙂

  8. Growing up on Brisbane’s southside, I always viewed the rabbit warren of roads (and traffic!) on the north side with distrust – and a little trepidation. And that was before the tunnels complicated matters!
    As I’ve mentioned, I must bring Stephen up to show him the Subshine Coast Hinterlands. Since we dont usually bring our entire hiking kit up, these walk sound pretty ideal.
    Oh, and on the topic of macadamias… We had a big tree in our local primary school (when we werent buying them). Yeah, a hammer was ok if you were desperate, but I grew very proficient at cracking them using the vice on the bench in dad’s workshop. Ahhh, those were the days!

    • Hi Dayna,
      Thanks for making me feel better about the northside traffic! I felt a little silly about my traffic fears, but I’ve since found out it’s not just me. The roads are a bit of a maze and with so many one way streets unexpected detours can really add time to the trip. Needless to say, the idea of driving in Sydney scares me!
      Yes, I think the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands are a great area to show Stephen. So many shortish but lovely walks. I haven’t even checked out the National Parks near Maleny yet. Canondale Nat Park is supposed to be lovely with long walks along the river. If you do come up this way, let me know!
      I love hearing all the childhood macadamia nut stories from people. Yep, a vice would have been much less messier! Great idea.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dayna. Looking forward to your next amazing blog post. 🙂

  9. Hi Jane,
    I feel your pain with the traffic. These days it doesn’t seem to matter if you head north or south its always busy! I have never done any walks in the Glass House Mountains, although I have picnicked there years ago. They look so imposing from a distance. I really enjoy the way you write about your adventures Jane. I always look forward to your next installment 🙂

    • Hi Amanda,
      Well, I do hope you get a chance to visit the Glass House Mountains one day. I really recommend the Ngungun walk (I wrote a post about it). Not too far, but still a bit of a challenge and the view is incredible!
      Yes, traffic is a nightmare both north and south, but at least since I live in the south I have a slight idea of where I am going, with the emphasis on “slight”!
      Thanks for your encouragement and lovely comments, Amanda. I look forward to your great stories and pictures on your blog as well. Keep them coming! 🙂

  10. We passed the Glasshouse Mountains last weekend. We were contemplating driving the Steve Irwin Way to get a closer look but after our really early morning to see the sunrise on Mt Coot-tha, we just wanted to keep going toward the Sunshine Coast.
    Ahh, the memories of macadamia nut cracking. Your post took me back to sitting on my grandmother’s driveway with a hammer (or rock) in hand and putting the nuts in the cracks of the cement to hold them still. We smashed our fingers as often as we did the nuts and sometimes we hit them so hard we mashed them into the concrete. There is something missing these days eating a nut with no gritty bits in it 😉
    As to the northside traffic. I hate it! I grew up on the southside and I learned to drive on the southside. I now live south of the southside and love the country roads. Give me country roads any day.

    • Hi Suze,
      It’s been great to read other people’s stories about macadamia nut cracking when they were children! We all seem to have slight variations from each other on our own memories. Makes me want to write some posts where I invite people to share their memories about particular Australian childhood “thing” and see how many stories we can come up with. Yep, eating nuts today is seriously missing that extra teeth-cracking crunch from bits of shell and other grit! Heheh
      I’m glad there are others who hate northside traffic. I wonder is northsiders feel the same way about the southside?!
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Lovely to read your comments. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Ecology on Holiday – Ecology is not a dirty word

  12. The Glass House Mountains area is truly an amazing place. As President of the Glasshouse Bushwalkers Club our members are always amazed by the variety of walks we can find in the area.

    • Yeas, I love the area. I haven’t been back since this blog post but hope to return again in the next few weeks. It’s 39C and very humid today. I’m hoping for something a little cooler before I attempt Tibrogargan! Perhaps I will run into your group on one of my trips there. It is such a gorgeous part of Queensland to live in. I’m in Ipswich and if it weren’t for the drive through city traffic, I’d be visiting the mountains more often. Thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated. 🙂

Comments are closed.