Glass House Mountains is a Sunshine Coast hinterland town, located in South-East Queensland, Australia. Being approximately 70 kiometres north of Brisbane, in the Caloundra City shire, it feels curiously isolated, though it is not far from anywhere you care to mention. Locals know the town simply as ‘Glasshouse’.
The iconic Glasshouse Mountains range and associated national park is where the town has derived its name, which is perfectly fitting, for the town sits almost centrally amongst the natural wonders. It may be small, being home to a little over 900 people, but it does boast a plethora of services, businesses and amenities, such as a modern railway station, grocery store (the local IGA), real estate agent, town hall, newsagent, post office, laundromat, bakery, primary school, bottleshop, hairdresser, hardware store, pharmacy, video shop and first class tavern. All these are centrally located and within easy walking distance.
One of the more unusual features that Glasshouse proudly displays for all and sundry to see is its huge soccer grounds and associated clubhouse. The farmers that settled in the area had a passion for soccer that still flares today, and donated time and money to constructing a facility which is the largest on the Sunshine Coast. The clubhouse is also well worth a visit, with cheap, delicious meals and a licensed bar.
Glasshouse Mountains has a fascinating history. Captain James Cook sighted the Glasshouse Mountains range in 1770, and was mightily impressed. From the coast, their remarkable shape and colour reminded him very much of the glass houses back home in England. Hence, his appellation, Glasshouse Mountains.
Almost thirty years later, Matthew Flinders did a much more thorough investigation of the natural wonder. Whilst investigating Moreton Bay in the southern hemisphere’s winter of 1799, he came ashore, journeyed inland for about fifteen kilometres, and decided to climb what was to become Mount Beerburrum. He had originally intended to scale Mt. Beerwah, but decided on Mt. Beerburrum, as it was more rounded and (in his estimation) easier to climb. Curiously though, Matthew Flinders recorded that the climb was ‘quite difficult’ due to many loose rocks of varying sizes, that composed Mt. Beerburrum.
The Glasshoue Mountains township wouldn’t be established for almost three-quarters of a century. When it was, in the early 1870s, credit was due to the famous Cobb & Co. Horse and Coach service. The pioneering transportation and freight company did the run between Maryborough and Brisbane three times a week from 1868. Glasshouse Mountains grew from its initial beginnings as a rest stop for the company’s horses and passengers. It was early February, 1890 when the Cobb & Co. service terminated its run through Glasshouse Mountains, as the railway line between Landsborough and Caboolture was officially enabled.
Not surprisingly, agriculture was and still is Glasshouse Mountains largest industry. These days, growing in the rich soil you can find macadamia nuts, vegetables, pawpaws, pineapples, citrus, strawberries, passionfruit, dairy and even turf (the stuff people make their lawns out of). In days gone by, even tobacco and sugar was grown here. Did you know that until the early 1960s, most of the crops were raised and tended with Clydesdale horses and ploughs? Coupled with that was the relatively recent introduction of electricity in the middle of last century.
The reason for the abundance and variety of crops grown in the Glashouse Mountains area is its moist, sub-tropical climate. Apart from North-East Queensland, the Sunshine Coast hinterland enjoys the highest amount of rainfall in the country. But there is still plenty of sunshine to be had, with mild temperatures year round, even in summer.
There, are, of course, plenty of things to see and do, such as climbing the peaks that comprise the Glasshouse Mountains, in the Glasshouse Mountains National Park. However, only those who are very fit are advised to take on any of the challenges. Many a rescue chopper has been sent out to rescue poor souls who have bitten off more than they can chew!
A much more relaxing and enjoyable way to view the splendour of the Glasshouse Mountains can be obtained by taking a leisurely drive to the Main Lookout. The way is clearly signposted in the Glasshouse Mountains township, and there are a couple of cafes along the way if you are feeling hungry or thirsty. The Main Lookout blesses the visitor with an expansive view of all the Glasshouse Mountains and associated plains, right out to the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, even the sand dunes of Moreton Island can be seen.
Finally, at the corner of Old Gympie Road and Mt Beerwah Road, is the Australian Teamsters Hall Of Fame and Spirit of Cobb & Co. There, you can learn all about the Cobb and Co. service and life in the days when horses were the most practical and versatile power source around. Visitors to the museum can see the construction and maintenance of carriages, how wagon wheels are made and experience a real blacksmith workshop. There’s an even a slab-hut kitchen where damper and other pioneering tucker can be enjoyed.
There are plenty of reasons to come to Glasshouse Mountains township and stay a while, or even live here. With so much to see and do, and plenty of amenities and services, it’s one of the best small towns in Australia.
Contributed to Beerwah.com by Matthew Chappell – Copyright Beerwah.com