The mountains were named by explorer Captain James Cook on 17 May, 1770. The peaks reminded him of the glass furnaces in his home county of Yorkshire. Matthew Flinders explored the area and climbed Mount Beerburrum after sailing along Pumicestone Passage in 1799.
The range was formed as molten lava cooled to form hard rock in the cores of volcanoes between 26-27 million years ago. The source of the lava was from the East Australia hotspot. The cores of the mountains contain columns of comendite from lava which cools quickly into a hard rock. The surrounding softer rocks have been eroded in the subsequent time, forming the spectacular volcanic plugs that remain today. The peaks location relative to each other exhibits an alignment that is believed to have occurred due to fracturing.