Geologically, the Glasshouse Mountains are the remnants of an ancient volcanic caldera. The Gubbi-Gubbi Aboriginal people refer to the mountains in their ancient stories as a family, complete with pregnant mother (Beerwah), grumpy father (Tibrogargan) and a multitude of children. In 1770, Captain James Cook saw them on the horizon as he looked inland from the sea, and thought they resembled the conical glass furnaces of 18th century England, hence the name.
Much of the area is state forest, which means it’s criss-crossed with flat gravel roads lined by rows and rows of plantation pines. These roads are perfect for beginners, or as part of an epic route for MTB / Cyclocross riders who want to hop on a bike and ride all day. The downside is that every decade or two, one section might be closed while loggers harvest the plantation timber.
But a lot of the Glasshouse Mountains is also National Park. Imposing hills surrounded by native forest are a perfect backdrop for some nail-biting descents. “The Giant Drop” is a tough track that drops sharply from the top of “Radar Hill”. On our rides we usually advise beginners to walk it, and tell everyone else to make sure their last will and testament is up to date 🙂
Another awesome descent is Hennessey Hill – a purpose-built IMBA graded Downhill track, designed in 2011 by Pete Wilson. Complete with jumps, berms, rock-gardens and drop-offs. We’ve taken riders of all abilities down this track. The great thing is that all of the more advanced features have B-lines which allow riders of lesser ability to avoid obstacles that they might not be able to ride over. With a trafficable road not far from the bottom, it’s easy to get a shuttle back up to the top, or for the tougher riders, to grind back up the hill for another ride down. The downhill record to beat is 1 minute 51 seconds, by Lindsay Klein.
Some of the low-lying areas in the Glasshouse Mountains are subject to flooding after heavy rain and the clay tracks can get very soft when wet. So if you must ride in the wet season, and you know where to go, it’s a good idea to avoid the swampy areas. (Or ride with someone who knows their way around 🙂 )
On some of our rides we thought it would be more fun to try and ride / walk through the swamps, but in these situations it helps to carry an old rag and lots of wet-lube to clean up the drive train if it gets too crunchy.
The rainy season for this part of the world is from January to March. The driest (and coolest) part of the year is from July to September. At that time, almost all the tracks are dry, hard and ride-able.
The Lookout is a popular rest stop on most rides with great views of the mountains as well as Moreton Bay. It has picnic tables, restrooms and clean water – although the local council has deemed the water undrinkable.
There are a variety of places to start your ride, but we usually start at Matthew Flinders Rest Area at Beerburrum under the watchful eye of of Mount Tibrogargan. The reason being ample parking, and it’s not far from the Beerburrum Railway Station with trains running from nearby Brisbane every 60 to 90 minutes.
Starting from from the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Beerburrum is a 45 minute drive north along the Bruce Highway and Steve Irwin Way.
The region around the Glasshouse Mountains has several railway stations. This makes it easy to do point-to-point rides starting at the south, riding North as far as you can in a day, and then hopping on the train to come home. You’d be surprised how many people and muddy bikes you can fit on a Queensland Rail Train – and they don’t seem to mind, provided you don’t travel in peak hour on week-days.
There are several options for rides through the Glasshouse Mountains depending on your fitness level and need for adventure.
A popular ride among my friends is a westward loop from Beerburrum out to Woodford and back. This 65km loop allows for a lunch break in the small town of Woodford with plenty of cafes, snack bars and rest areas for everyone.
2. Mount Beerwah
This shorter 40km loop takes in the lookout, and then heads north under the imposing gaze of Mount Beerwah. Although it’s shorter, there are no places to buy food or drinks until about 30km into the ride (at Glasshouse Mountains Township), so it’s advisable to take all your food and water with you.
3. Beerburrum East
An easy flat 55km loop which winds through the pine forests to the east of the Glasshouse Mountains – this is a great ride for beginners. Start this ride at the nearby town of Caboolture and trace out a big circle in the forest, stopping for a bite to eat in Beerburrum halfway through the ride before riding back to the start along historic Old Gympie Road
Start in Caboolture and head north through the forests around the Glasshouse Mountains. Keep heading north towards Mooloolah before catching the train home. This 80km point to point ride has a bit of everything including a pitch-black ride through a disused railway tunnel in Dullarcha National Park.
While You’re There
While you’re in this part of the world, while not check out Australia Zoo in Beerwah – home of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
1. Free online maps of mountain biking tracks in the Sunshine Coast Area published by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=mountain-biking-map
2. “Where to Mountainbike In Southeast Queensland” (78 pages with maps) by Duncan and Roberts. http://organisedgrime.com.au/
3. Bushrangers Mountainbike Club
4. “MTBDirt” Maps and discussions about mountain biking trails in Southeast Queensland.