Australia, Hiking, Mountains
Comments 16

Back on the Monkey’s Forehead

Well, much of the country is on fire again, but up here in Brisbane it’s been pretty damned nice. I think I’m getting used to the heat, the worst of which was visited upon this, the third-largest city, just before I got back from Korea.

My ongoing project continues and its conclusion and some exciting news are in sight. I’ve done a lot of catch-ups with old friends, have been into the apparently hip city a couple of times (first impressions: beer is expensive, people are much larger here, there’s almost as much cigarette smoke as in downtown Gimhae, and there are too many street musicians) and have managed a short bike ride and lots of photography every day between bursts of work on my project.

My friend Chris (he tells me we’ve known each other 10 years) and I had been talking about a trip to Moreton Island and my third circumambulation of the world’s third-biggest sand island, but I decided I couldn’t spare the time and that three days’ worth of mid-Summer-hot white sand, dodging holiday-period hordes of 4-wheel drives, was a suicide mission.

Instead we decided on a day trip up the highway to the Glass House Mountains and Tibrogargan, which long-term readers might recall from this trip, and this one. There’s some historical and geographical detail there. I’ll let the pictures tell the story this time — I think they’re a bit better than on those earlier trips, and I have beer to drink…

*          *          *          *          *

Chris had use of his mother’s car. It’s tiny and not the most rugged-looking vehicle, but after two years of walking or using public transport to get anywhere it was a treat to be chauffeured to a day-hike. Barely an hour from Brisbane and we were among the pine plantations and pineapple farms surrounding the hulking simian mass of Tibrogargan:


I have long been opposed to the keeping of mountains in captivity.

It was cloudy, hot but not too hot, early but not quite early enough. We got started. This sign was new — it was a revelation to us both that throwing rocks from a mountain could be harmful. Honestly, the bureaucrats are ruining the fun for all of us:


The Tibro hiker walks/climbs a fine line between walking and climbing. People below often ask how bad/steep/scary it is up top. I only ask how crowded it is. A dozen or so were descending, so there were frequent stops to let them pass and enjoy the views of Tibro’s sister mountains:


Coonowrin, popularly known as Crookneck, is officially closed. I’ve heard there is a way up that doesn’t involve ropes.



Jam cleared, we resumed climbing, slowly, in my case, as I was juggling two cameras…


Beerwah — the highest Glass House — Coonowrin and a pineapple patchwork



..and half an hour or so of scrambling brought us to the 364m summit, which is lushly appointed with slow-growing grass trees and banskias:


Grass tree foliage


Grass trees — Xanthorea — near the summit


The Tunbubudla Twins, left


Banskia trees — classic Australiana

The path is up the inland, western face — a quick traverse and you climb down a short way onto the top of the east- and coastal-facing face — the forehead of the venerable volcanic ape:


Looking coastwards

We rested there a bit, talking, eating, watching other walkers…


Macadamia plantation & a nasty quarry


..before a descent, an hour later, by the same path:


From Ngungun, right, there’s a fantastic view of Coonowrin lined up with mighty Beerwah. All are remnant volcanic plugs.


Going down is slower — gravity is not always your friend. I enjoy this climb but there have been several rescues and accidents over the years; the time- and boot-smoothed stone must be treacherous in wet weather.

Some adrenalin when a yelled “ROCK!” from higher up had us ducking as a lethally accelerating pebble bounded down the face, missing two guys below us by inches. Plainly those above hadn’t read the sign.



Tea tree blossom


A mix of primeval monoliths & prim orchards thriving in the rich red soil

The day was still young, so we made the journey north and inland to historic Maleny for coffee and carrot cake of monumental — almost prehistoric — western-sized proportions and one of the iconic views of South-East Queensland:





God, it was great to be home.


That’s Tibrogargan near the left end of the line.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. Darius Russell says

    Some days it is an absolutely, ESPECIALLY welcome site to see another dispatch from The Goat! This morning, yet again, most certainly is one of them.

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL, Goat! South Korea must have been awful compared to being away from Queensland!

    I always enjoy watching bits and pieces of the Australian Open tennis this time of year, and find myself sentimentally journeying back to my almost five week Aussie fandango of Dec. 1996 to Jan. 1997 where I meandered from Sydney, up to Cairnes, across to Alice Springs area, down to Adelaide, and along the coast to Melbourne (where I was very excited to attend the tennis that year!!!)

    Suffice it to say I barely even scratched the surface of your beautiful country, and am guilty of hitting many touristy spots while there.

    But, LOVED my probably one and only visit in this lifetime to the other side of the world. Your latest post, Goat just reminds me more of what I missed. What a stunning area of your country, and reminds me more of what I missed.

    And GREAT photos as usual, Goat! Thank You!!

    Anxious and anticipating what your next big adventure is!!


    • Hey Darius, thanks as ever for the beautiful comment, which somehow slipped beneath my attention during my frenzy of preparation and personal pilgrimage on my home soil. That’s great that you saw some cool parts of my very big country back then — hope you get another chance to go, take your time and meander to your heart’s content.

      I just got here to Saratoga Springs yesterday and am recovering from jetlag and a terrible flying experience as I endeavour to do battle with the cold! I kinda miss the Queensland weather, but everything else here is fantastic!

    • Thanks! Not my favourite conditions for photos — then again, I wouldn’t want to do it in dim light or rainy weather, my usual preference!

  2. Great introduction to Queensland, Goat. Wow to that landscape. I know very little about Australia. Looking forward to more views of your native land. The view is so clear from Timbrogargan. Enjoyed velebit1’s link to the Timbrogargan song. Thanks for the links to previous visits to Timbrogargan. So that’s where tea trees grow (-:

    • Thanks, Am. I believe the origin of the tea tree name is the discolouration its tannins add to water near where it prefers to grow.

      Queensland is huge, obviously (more than twice the size of Texas, if memory serves) and there’s a lot of great outdoor recreation possible if you can get to it. I’m lucky the Glass Houses are so close to the capital down here in the south-east.

      Sadly, perhaps, my time here in my home state is soon to end. Big news coming soon!

  3. What a beautiful and unusual landscape! But I want to know where all the litter is? I mean, how can you go on a hike without photographing plastic in various neon shades? I miss it. Not. 😉

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