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The Legend of the Glass House Mountains

Barbara Burkhardt

Banksia Beach, Australia

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Nikon D90 Nikkor 70-300@300mm
Feature Image – Australian Scenic Excellence Group
Feature Image – Photographers Craft Group
Feature Image – In and around Brisbane Group

“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 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."

Artwork Comments

  • Richard G Witham
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Beth  Wode
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Vitta
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Cornelia Mladenova
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Qnita
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Kornrawiee
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Harry Oldmeadow
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Matt  Carlyon
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Bette Devine
  • Barbara Burkhardt
  • Mieke Boynton
  • Barbara Burkhardt
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