4wding glasshouse mountains
The scenery around the Glasshouse area is something special.

4WDing the Glasshouse Mountains

THE Glasshouse Mountains or ‘Glassy’ is one of southeast Queensland’s favourite off-roading hot spots.

For those who haven’t been, the Glasshouse Mountains area is a one-stop location for everyone from beginners who want to learn the ropes to those who haven’t got a cautious bone in their body. Our very first trip to Glassy was many moons ago in our completely stock D22 Nissan Navara as we tagged along on a run with a group called 4X4 Torsion Bar Warriors.

As newbies with experience that stretched about as far as flexing on the local gutter, we had no idea what we were in for. Within five minutes of being on the tracks, we were hooked.
Most trips to Glassy start at either Glasshouse Mountains Lookout or what is commonly known as Big Red play hills.

Big Red is located about five minutes’ drive past the lookout. Follow the road until it comes to a T intersection and then turn right. From there you will reach a section where the bush opens up on both the left and right sides and provides a view for miles along the powerlines.

Also known as Big Red carpark, it is one of the main entrances and meeting points for most runs at Glassy and offers plenty of space for large groups to air down and wait for others in their group, along with some short hillclimbs for those who wish to have a quick play.

The play hills are effectively a large singular hill with four main tracks carved out over the years. During our most recent trip in March, most of the lines were only driveable for those with lockers.This was proven by two GU Patrols, both with 33” wheels and 2” lifts, the only difference being one had a locker and the other didn’t.
Our GU with the locker walked up the hills without a drama, however the other GU was not so lucky.

Unable to make it to the top, the driver ended up damaging the Patrol’s exhaust while trying to back out of the climb. You may be wondering why this area is called Big Red play hills. Well, the explanation is very simple, however the track is not!

The play hills are situated at the very top of Big Red. Big Red is the top section of a two-part track with a very steep face and huge ruts. This track is definitely not for the faint-hearted. We have never driven this track due to our desire for self-preservation and mechanical sympathy.

For novices, this track appears simply insane and undrivable, which alone motivates some very courageous (crazy?) people to attempt it. The bottom half of this track is called Little Red, and it also appears to be a pretty difficult track, however for those with some experience picking the right lines and with somewhat capable rigs, this track can be conquered reasonably easily.

The track starts with fairly mild trails before the first obstacle of a steep off-camber climb, almost immediately followed by entering an extremely steep descent with a rather large rut right in the middle of the track. After this the track returns to easy driving for a little over 100m until you hit the base of Little Red.
Little Red has two lines.

4wding glasshouse mountains
The Milk Carton and crew aired down for the day.
Dean’s Suzuki hugged the bank.
The Milk Carton winched a SWB Pajero up Hennessy Hill.
Dean’s Suzuki played stuck in the mud on Mud Mile.
4wding glasshouse mountains
The Milk Carton and crew set up for a photo before airing up.
The Milk Carton posed with Mount Tibrogargan in the background.
Dean’s Suzuki got on some mental angles at Glasshouse.
For novices, this track appears simply insane and undrivable, which alone motivates some very courageous (crazy?) people to attempt it. The bottom half of this track is called Little Red, and it also appears to be a pretty difficult track, however for those with some experience picking the right lines and with somewhat capable rigs, this track can be conquered reasonably easily.

The track starts with fairly mild trails before the first obstacle of a steep off-camber climb, almost immediately followed by entering an extremely steep descent with a rather large rut right in the middle of the track. After this the track returns to easy driving for a little over 100m until you hit the base of Little Red.
Little Red has two lines.

The one on the left used to be the chicken track, however due to significant erosion it has turned into a track only for those who don’t mind panel damage, broken windows and other mechanical failures. In fact, no less than a year ago a traveller from Canberra unwittingly made the decision to drive down this track.

The poor guy left with a smashed window, a door half ripped off, damage to the B-pillar, a snapped shock absorber and two snapped lower control arms. It’s safe to say we have no desire to drive this line. Now for the fun side – the right side. On this side the challenges last for no longer than 50m, starting with a rock step that is about the height of the average man’s shoulder.

Thankfully this rock step has a fairly gradual approach that allows your rig to nose up to it, place a wheel on the high section over to the left and climb up and over the step. This is easy in theory, but not so simple in practice. When we drove this track recently in the Milk Carton, we were able to drive it from bottom to top in less than two minutes.

In saying that, our friend’s 105 Series LandCruiser with 4” lift, ridiculous flex, 35” tyres and a front locker was unable to make it up the first step. Some of you may be scratching your heads as to why the smaller GU made it up but the Cruiser didn’t? Well the reason is simple: big flex isn’t always a good thing.

Though the Cruiser had all wheels on the ground, the body of the rig sat on a much greater angle, thus putting more weight on the wheel that was unable to climb. Because the front left wheel was on the high line, the lack of weight on this wheel meant it did not have adequate traction to get up the step.

The rear right wheel was also in a large slippery hole, which meant it was unable to maintain enough traction to climb the rock step. After popping over the first step, you are faced with another series of large steps before coming to the final step with a large V-shaped rut.

Whether or not you struggle on this challenge depends on the length of your wheelbase. Those reading who haven’t got the experience or ambition to tackle something as difficult as Little or Big Red, rest assured Glassy is not just filled with hard tracks only suited to those with huge rigs and no fear.

Glassy also has a range of easy and intermediate tracks perfect for building up skills and confidence. For those new to off-roading, heading north along the Powerlines track from the Big Red play hills would be a perfect start.

With some fairly tame challenges that require basic knowledge of your vehicle’s track width, the Powerlines can be a load of fun. Tracks run off both sides of the Powerlines track, just as they do with the majority of tracks at Glassy.

These side tracks are fun for exploring and navigating around the place. However, we always follow one simple rule – if we can’t confidently say we will be able to complete the challenge or if there is nowhere to safely turn around, we do not continue along a track.

We have been on trips where friends have made the mistake of tackling challenges they were clearly unable to conquer or unable to back out of and we are well aware of the dangers this presents. One incident that comes to mind was in The Canyon at Glassy, which is a side track off the south end of the Powerlines track.

A friend did not give enough thought to the challenge ahead and frustratingly sent a stock rig down a track that requires skill and significant modifications. As a result, they ended up breaking a CV and caused other damage to their rig.

The consequence was a four-hour recovery at 1am during a cold winter’s night that left two other rigs with mechanical issues. It’s safe to say this was one epic recovery, but let’s leave the juicy details for another article.

The Glasshouse Mountains is truly a perfect four-wheel-driving destination, and with easy through to extreme tracks, you are bound to find something to satisfy your off-road itch. We definitely recommend taking the time to do a day trip out there.

If you have concerns about going by yourself, then hit up Glasshouse Area 4WD Hub on Facebook or any of the other Glasshouse pages for advice and to organise runs. Just make sure you keep an eye on the HQPlantations website hqplanta tions.com.au for closures, especially around major weather events and logging periods.

If we respect the Glasshouse area, we will be able to ensure it is kept open for everyone to enjoy.
If you are interested in heading out for a run to Glassy, feel free to hit us up on our Flexible 4WD Solutions Facebook page.

Until next month, we hope to see you out on the tracks.

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About Greg Bell

Greg Bell
I am a keen off-road enthusiast and driven entrepreneur from Brisbane. Based in southeast Queensland, my mates and I travel all over the east coast of Australia chasing extraordinary tracks. For expert advice and all the best gear at incredible prices, check out my business page at www.facebook.com/Flexible4WDSolutions

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