Pre 1800s

Pre 1800's on the Sunshine Coast

Pre 1800s
Pumicestone Passage looking towards Bells Creek area showing the Glass House Mountains in the distance, ca 1970 | Picture Sunshine Coast

The first inhabitants of the Sunshine Coast were the people of the Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) language group whose ancestors came to the region as far back as 30,000 years. These people, when explorers came to the district and observed their Indigenous neighbours were at the time considered some of the healthiest Aborigines ever seen, due to the abundant food sources.

The Gubbi Gubbi language group comprised of four main clans which were the Undanbi (or Undumbi), Nalbo, Dulingbara and Gubbi Gubbi peoples.


The first sightings and observations in the district were recorded by explorers occurred on 17 May, when botanist Joseph Banks who was on board Lieutenant James Cook’s H. M. Bark Endeavour observed water of a different colour discharging south into the ocean. This waterway was later to become known as Pumicestone Passage. Cook too observed the unusual surroundings in the district close by, noting the prominent hills and calling them the Glass Houses. These ‘prominent hills’ reminded Lieutenant Cook of the glass making furnaces in Cook’s native homeland around Yorkshire, England. He described their location in his log so as to guide future explorers to these conspicuous landmarks.


Lieutenant Matthew Flinders, on board the sloop Norfolk was sent from Port Jackson, Sydney Town to explore Lt. Cook’s Glass House Bay (which is now known as Deception Bay) for the possibility of a large river. Matthew Flinder’s anchored at the southern end of the Pumicestone Passage and proceeded to explore by boat and on foot. After having an altercation with the Bribie natives, the area was then to become known as Point Skirmish. It was Flinders who named the narrow strait between Bribie Island and the mainland, the Pumicestone River, due to the vast amounts of Pumicestone scattered along the shoreline. At the time it was believed the Passage was a river.

Lieutenant Matthew Flinders intrigued by the majestic mountains rowed up a creek which he named Glass House Creek, ‘Tierbum’ being the local native name. On 26 July, Flinders along with Sydney native Bongaree and two unnamed sailors from the ship ‘Norfolk’ climbed Beerburrum Mountain. Flinders and the sailors were the first Europeans to climb one of the Glass House Mountains. Flinders returned to Sydney without finding the big river he sought, which was the Brisbane River.