Glenugie Peak (previously Mt Elaine) is a distinctive pointy basalt peak in the Clarence Valley. Glenugie Peak is 316m high, and clearly visible from the Pacific Highway south of Grafton. This is Gumbaynggirr country, their name for the peak is Gunayjun. Captain John Pike had a run here back in 1840 named Glenugie Station, supposedly Captain Cook named Mount Elaine.
There are great 360 degree views from the top of the peak, where there is an old trig station (1972) and an even older wooden fire observation tower.
Glenugie Peak geology and flora
This volcanic plug or dyke is unrelated to the Ebor volcano, and was intruded through the Clarence Moreton Basin sedimentary layers. The rock is highly unusual for coastal plains, and rare in Australia (see Northern Rivers Geology for more information of the “weird” rock).
The rocks are different to the surrounding sandstone, which results in unique and rare plants in the Glenugie Peak Flora Reserve. There are areas of dry rainforest. The threatened species Glenugie Karaka (Corynocarpus rupestris) grows on the rock screes, other trees such as ironbark and Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) can also be found here. Glenugie State Forest has been a state forest reserve for well over a century.
Glenugie Peak quarry and tramway
You can walk either clockwise or anti-clockwise on the loop around the peak. We chose to walk anti-clockwise, leaving the summit climb for later in the walk. Lookout for the remains of the old quarry as you circuit the peak. Early in the twentieth century, the rock from the quarry was used for ballast to build the North Coast railway which runs to the west of Glenugie Peak. An 8.25km tramway was built for transporting the rock, which was crushed in hoppers. The tramway alignment can still be seen as a cadastral reserve on the Topo map and physical evidence can be seen on the ground – the route included Lookout Road and then Franklins Road. The railway was completed in 1915. There was talk of using the rock for paving Grafton’s streets, but fortunately the quarry was abandoned and the Peak remains for us to climb.
Although it may be possible for a hardened 4WD to tackle the uneven rocky road to the top, we prefer to walk and observe at a slower, quieter pace!