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Glass House Mountains Nature's playground on the Sunshine Coast

By Stephanie Williams

The 11 gorgeous peaks of the Glass House Mountains are found in the hinterland of Queensland's Sunshine Coast. They are about a one-hour drive south of the Sunshine Coast's main hub, Noosa, or an hour north of the state's capital city, Brisbane. A natural playground of walking tracks, horse trails and abseiling locations, the mountains are also home to six small townships, linked by rail and country roads. You'll also find the incredible Australia Zoo, founded by the famed "Crocodile Hunter", Steve Irwin, and his family.

Map of the Glass House Mountains, Queensland

Visit Australia Zoo in Beerwah

Beerwah is the area's largest town, and sits in the shadow of Mount Beerwah, the mountains' largest peak. There are several pretty walking trails here, including the 30-minute Tibrogargan walking circuit and the easy Glass House Mountains Lookout Circuit (which offers sweeping views to Brisbane and Moreton Island). But the real must-do here is Australia Zoo. You may have heard of Steve Irwin, also known as "The Crocodile Hunter", and his family, Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin. This is their home and their zoo, and while you're here, you can get up close to fascinating Australian native wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, Tasmanian devils and, of course, crocodiles. 

Check into gorgeous accommodation

Just a 10-minute drive from Beerwah you'll find Glass on Glasshouse, a multi-award-winning collection of three beautiful cottages set in bushland, each with a freestanding bathtub, chic timber floor and two floor-to-ceiling walls of glass offering intimate views of the mountains. Most of the accommodation in this area is boutique. Choose from a range of bed and breakfast options and small hotels around the gourmet towns of Maleny and Montville. Stay at Spicers Tamarind Retreat, with its on-site cooking school and restaurant and a passion for local produce.

Pay respect to the traditional owners

The rugged volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains are listed on the Queensland and National heritage registers as a landscape of national importance due to their cultural significance to the area's traditional Aboriginal owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people. Historically, this was a special meeting place where Aboriginal people gathered for ceremonies and trading, and many of their ceremonial sites are still present. Take the 2.8-kilometre (1.7-mile) Mount Ngungun Summit walk via open forest, ferneries and rocky overhangs to the mountain's peak. The Gubbi Gubbi people don't speak publicly about why the area is significant to them, but as you reflect upon the spectacular 360-degree view over the land, you'll see that there's certainly a feeling of spirituality to the area.

Hike through the area

Only two of the mountains are open to the public for bushwalking and climbing: Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Ngungun. Both offer walking tracks ranging from easy to very challenging, many leading through open forests to lookouts offering panoramic views. Before you head out on a walk, stop at the Glass House Mountains Visitor and Interpretive Centre, where you can learn about local history and attractions, pick up a local map, and use the free wi-fi. The centre also sells local products such as jams and honey. 

Drive the country roads

Hire a car and roll down the windows as you explore the winding back roads of the Glass House Mountains. The 55-kilometre (34-mile) Blackall Range Tourist Drive, just north of the Glass House Mountains, is one of the most scenic drives in Australia, with views all the way back to the beaches on the coast. This subtropical area is home to farms growing pineapples, strawberries, avocados and macadamias, so look out for roadside stalls selling produce along any of the roads in the area. You can generally leave coins in "honesty boxes" in exchange for your purchase. If train travel is of interest, you may wish to catch a ride on the area's historic rail network

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