I had spent three full weeks in Brisbane and and apart from my cash-in-hand job there I also went around exploring the city and even done a lot of side trips like down to the Gold Coast, visiting the city’s world-famous koala sanctuary and even went out to North Stradbroke Island for a full day trip and which turned out to be one of the best-kept-secrets that I discovered through my travels through Australia. Another one should follow right after that.
So I thought it is time to leave Brisbane and start my trip up the east coast. I wanted to take it easy and visit a lot of ways on my way up to Cairns, so instead of going straight to Noosa as most other backpackers I met, I took the Greyhound bus to Caloundra, a beach town just about 100km up north of Brisbane.
It didn’t take me long to find a cheap hostel in Caloundra by just walking around town, and it didn’t take long either until I made friends with an Irish and Chinese girl there who I met while cooking my pasta that first night in the hostel’s kitchen. We took a walk around town later that night and also went to the beach where we discovered this beautiful Caloundra boardwalk.
From there we could also see the famous glasshouse mountains on red horizon during sunset time. If you are wondering like I was why on earth they called the mountains like that – it was actually James Cook, the first European to discover Australia’s east coast back in 1770, who said:
“These hills lie a little way inland, and not far from each other. They are remarkable for the singular form of their elevation, which very much resembles a glass house, and for this reason I called them Glass Houses.”
So far so good. But after all we didn’t decide to come to Caloundra because of the mountains having this funny name, but rather because of their “natural beauty” and the scenery around them.
I was pretty lucky as the Irish girl had her own car that we took the following day, driving to the Glass House Mountains national park about 35km southwest of Coloundra in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. As with most other national parks in Australia, there is no admission fee to get into the park. There are also day trips being offered by local travel agencies in Caloundra, but obviously it’s a lot more fun if you can find someone that has a car and you can do your own kind of trip.
So what is this trip all about? Well, the whole area is actually pretty flat as we drove through it with our car except of the eleven steep-sided volcanic hills (the Glass House Mountains) that dominate the scenery. We first drove to the official lookout point where they had a lot of tourist information boards and basically the best view over most of the hills. It was a clear day and the view was beautiful as you can see on the pictures.
After that we go back in the car and drove to the parks highest mountain, Mount Berwaah (555m). On the way we passed a pineapple field which was not only cool as I had never seen a pineapple field before: I didn’t know that they are growing on the ground. We got out of the car and just picked a nice pineapple (no people around) that we enjoyed as a big dessert back in the hostel that night. Check out this post for the full story.
So we reached the foot of the mountain and it turned out there is an easy to follow trek up to the summit. The Chinese girl didn’t want to join us and decided to take care of the car and the pineapples, so it was just me and my Irish friend went for the hike.
It only took about one hour to reach the summit, but there were some pretty steep parts along the way. It was worth it though – the view from the top was beautiful and beside of that there were only three other people apart from us.
That’s what I love about the Glass House Mountains national park: All this beautiful nature and only few backpackers give it a visit on their way up the east coast. Obviously there are heaps of great places in Queensland and you just can’t visit everything. And that’s why the Glass House Mountains is definitely one of the best kept secrets on the east coast.
Have you been there too? Or have you discovered other beautiful but less visited places on Australia’s east coast? Let us know in the comments.