Climbing in support of open peaks

By Kirra Livingstone

DOZENS of people climbed Mt Beerwah on Saturday (August 12) as part of a “Save Our Summits” event in support of ensuring Glasshouse Country peaks open to the broader community.
The mountain had been closed by the Department of Environment and Science in May following a vandalism attack, with a spokesperson saying it would remain off limits while repairs were undertaken and for cultural healing.
Following a fatality earlier this year as well as a series of other high profile rescues, Local Jinibara man, BJ Murphy, held a peaceful protest urging hikers to reconsider climbing the peak.
He said Mt Beerwah “is seen as a grandmother and ancestral spirit for us”.
He said if the mountain were closed permanently, compromises could be offered to hikers.
“It’s getting to the point where I want to jump up and down and scream, I’m trying to educate and ask them to not climb… but you will never stop everyone,” he said.
“If the summit was closed permanently, the parks department would put another trail in on the west side of the base, but the trail would have to cause minimal disruption.”
SOS event organiser, Ben Heaton, said the aim of the day was to show that the mountain was a valuable and loved summit for many people.
“There’s a lot of calls from the native title holders to close the summit trail, and we live our recreational lives on this base and on our way to the summit in some degree, so for us its really important for us to keep that open,” he said.
“This counter argument lets people know that it is important for other people to be able to climb the mountains. We get a lot out of it and if you don’t speak up and you don’t get heard, then you lose those opportunities and that access.”
Passionate climber, Jade King, said she was concerned that the temporary closure could be the start of a push to permanently close not only Mt Beerwah but other peaks across Glasshouse Country.
“I’m not concerned with a temporary closure, in fact, I welcome that type of thing and allowing the mountains a little break, for ecological repair,” she said.
“Why climbers are coming together now is that there is considerable talk about Mt Beerwah closing permanently. It would be devastating if we got stopped from climbing our beautiful Glass House Mountains.
“A lot of climbers use the mountains as a place for healing, whether it be a fitness challenge for them or to help overcome mental health issues, personally it has made me more confident.”
High profile closures including Wollumbin (Mt Warning), which attracted over 120,000 hikers annually before it was closed in 2022, as well as the permanent closure of Uluru in 2019, have hikers concerned about which peaks could be next to close.
“There are obviously a lot of perspectives on this but it would be really unfortunate if we closed the mountain because of one group of people that prevent everyone…” she said.
“I respect and love their culture, but under my own culture and my own beliefs I wouldn’t expect other people to change their ways for my beliefs.”
In late May, vandals used power tools to carve “Jesus saves lives” into rock face.
Authorities were attempting to repair the damage but were delayed after a member of the public attempted to use cement to repair the damage.
“This inadvertently negatively impacted the site and prevented us from repairing the vandalism with correct materials,” a spokesperson said.
“We ask the public to please avoid interfering with the site and to allow [us]… to conduct the remediation works.”
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