Glasshouse Mountains; Aboriginal Legend

Glasshouse Mountains from Reeseville lookout. 
Now, mountains here in Australia do not measure up to the majesty of the alps that grace the landscape without end in Europe. Theres's a good chance they do not even meet hill regulation standards in Switzerland. The Glasshouse Mountains and the adjoining Blackall Range, where Jo and I live, is probably the sort of place, that if it snowed here, Swiss mothers would send their two year olds out by themselves to practice skiing and snow boarding on the slopes before nap time. 

But they are the mountains we have. From their low-lying peaks you can see the ocean, walk in the cool rain-forests in the heat of summer and be amazed by the friendliness and beauty of the birds and the flora.

Mt Coonowrin
Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Coonowrin
 And many of the mountains have stories, Aboriginal legends. For the mountains are all an integral part of the Aboriginal Dreamtime (

For indigenous Australians everything is connected and has been from the beginning of creation, especially the country (place) where they are born.

Bunya pines
It was a beautiful sunrise here this morning. So I took the opportunity to walk along the edge of the Blackall Range and take some photos of the Glasshouse Mountains in the softness of the shadows and cooler air. I've lived in this Kabi Kabi country for sixteen years now and her beauty still talks to me. On clearer days you can see Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island and as far south as Mount Tambourine. But every day here for me brings some good to my heart. This morning I listened to the wind singing through the Bunya pines, these very words:

'Sweet Mother mountain your face touching the sun
watching over your children where quiet waters run
you stand for forgiveness, for woman and child
And you weep for Coonowrin always there by your side'

Mt Beerwah

I borrowed the info below from

The Glasshouse Mountains are of great historical, cultural and geological significance. Standing just north of Caboolture these weird rock formations are like sentinels. They were named by Captain James Cook during his epic voyage up the east coast of Australia in 1770. Geologically they are massive hunks of trachyte left behind after the overlying softer rock was worn away by the forces of nature. Their names - Beerwah, Tibrogargan, Coonowrin, Tunbubudla, Beerburrum, Ngungun, Tibberoowuccum and Coochin - reflect the Aboriginal culture surrounding the mountains.

The Aboriginal Legend

The legend of the Glasshouse Mountains in Aboriginal told stories runs: Now Tibrogargan was the father of all the tribes and Beerwah was his wife, and they had many children.
Coonowrin, the eldest; the twins, Tunbubudla; Miketeebumulgrai; Elimbah whose shoulders were bent because she carried many cares; the little one called Round because she was so fat and small; and the one called Wild Horse since he always strayed away from the others to paddle out to sea. (Ngungun, Beerburrum and Coochin do not seem to be mentioned in the legend).
One day when Tibrogargan was gazing out to sea, he perceived a great rising of the waters. He knew then that there was to be a very great flood and he became worried for Beerwah, who had borne him many children and was again pregnant and would not be able to reach the safety of the mountains in the west without assistance.
So he called to his eldest son, Coonowrin, and told him of the flood which was coming and said, "Take your mother, Beerwah, to the safety of the mountains while I gather your brothers and sisters who are at play and I will bring them along."
When Tibrogargan looked back to see how Coonowrin was tending to his mother he was dismayed to see him running off alone. Now this was a spiritless thing for Coonowrin to do, and as he had shown himself to be a coward he was to be despised.
Tibrogargan became very angry and he picked up his nulla nulla and chased Coonowrin and cracked him over the head with a mighty blow with such force that it dislocated Coonowrin's neck, and he has never been able to straighten it since.
By and by, the floods subsided and, when the plains dried out the family was able to return to the place where they lived before. Then, when the other children saw Coonowrin they teased him and called "How did you get your wry neck - How did you get your wry neck?" and this made Coonowrin feel ashamed.
So Coonowrin went to Tibrogargan and asked for forgiveness, but the law of the tribe would not permit this. And he wept, for his son had disgraced him. Now the shame of this was very great and Tibrogargan's tears were many and, as they trickled down they formed a stream which wended its way to the sea.
So Coonowrin went then to his mother, Beerwah, but she also cried, and her tears became a stream and flowed away to the sea. Then, one by one, he went to his brothers and sisters, but they all cried at their brother's shame.
Then Tibrogargan called to Coonowrin and asked why he had deserted his mother and Coonowrin replied, "She is the biggest of us all and should be able to take care of herself." But Coonowrin did not know that his mother was again with child, which was the reason for her grossness. Then Tibrogargan put his son behind him and vowed he would never look at him again.
Even to this day Tibrogargan gazes far, far out to sea and never looks at Coonowrin. Coonowrin hangs his head in shame and cries, and his tears run off to the sea, and his mother, Beerwah, is still pregnant, for, you see, it takes many years to give birth to a mountain."


  1. Dear "Monsieur Rob",
    We miss you & Jo around here: everywhere from ISL, to Biere to EVAM Crissier to the shores of Lac Leman. Your blog brought a smile to my face this morning. Thank you :-) There's snow on the moutains half way down across the lake this morning and if we had a good telescope, we could probably spot some of those two year olds schussing downhill!
    Big hug - Kathryn, Lubna & Claire


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