Average gradient: 5.9%
Elevation gain: 985m
The climb up to one of Victoria’s favourite snowfields is among the most picturesque in the state. Rising from the small township of Mirimbah, the ascent of Mt. Buller is fairly steady throughout but with a final few kilometres that are very steep and pose a great challenge for cyclists of all abilities.
The ascent of Mt. Buller begins at the toolbooth in Mirimbah.
The ascent of Mt. Buller ends at the Arlberg Hotel — the point where the surface of Summit Road changes from concrete to gravel. Alternatively, the climb can be finished at the entrance to the Mt. Buller Alpine Village, as per the blue distance markers that can be seen throughout the climb.
At a glance
- A consistent and picturesque climb with a few flat spots and steeper sections.
- The steepest section is Hell Corner at 14.9km — a left-hand bend with a gradient of ~13%.
- The optional climb from the village to the Arlberg Hotel is steep (10%+) but with great views.
As soon as you pass the tollbooth in Mirimbah the climbing begins. The initial stages of the climb seem fairly challenging at around 6% but after a couple of kilometres it’s easy to get into a rhythm and enjoy the amazing scenery that this climb has to offer.
Passing through a thick covering of eucalyptus gums and lush ferns you’ll take two beautiful sweeping left-hand bends at 3.2km and 3.5km into the climb. At the 4.1km mark the road bends right exposing breathtaking views on the left that remain possible until 21 Mile Pit around 900 metres later.
While the average gradient of the climb is 6% the actual gradient fluctuates noticeably throughout the climb. There are several steep points throughout but these are almost always followed by short flat sections that allow you to catch your breath. You will also notice blue signs throughout the climb which show the elevation at that point in the climb and how far away the Mt. Buller Alpine Village is.
After 5.9km of climbing the road narrows slightly and more amazing views are available. 800m later the road flatens for a couple hundred metres passing the distinctive rockfall barrier and waterfall of White Bridge. At this point the road becomes considerably narrower and windier and stays that way until the Mt. Buller Alpine Village.
Climbing out of Chalet Creek, 7.9km from Mirimbah, the road bends sharply around to the left and you’ll be presented with the steepest part of the climb thus far. 9.0km into the climb, at Unnamed Corner, the road bends sharply again, this time to the right, with the gradient picking up slightly in the process.
The next couple kilometres feature several hairpin bends as the road winds through beautiful native bushland including Pump Inn Corner and the very sharp hairpin left at Boggy Corner, 11.9km from the start of the climb.
At the 13.7km mark the road emerges from the tree line and several ski lifts are visible ahead. 300m later you’ll pass under a chairlift suspended just above the road, reminding you Mt. Buller is one of the most frequented ski resorts in the country.
After 14.4km of climbing the turn-off to Mt. Stirling can be seen on the left with the road bending right and tilting upward into a very challenging final few kilometres.
At the 14.9km mark you’ll come face-to-face with the steepest part of the climb: the aptly named Hell Corner. At around 13% Hell Corner is followed by a steep hairpin right 200m later before the road eases briefly and then climbs sharply for the last few hundred metres to the Mt. Buller Alpine Village.
While the blue distance markers designate the Alpine Village as the end of the climb, the true finish is a further 900m up the road. In this case, the word ‘up’ is meant literally as this last section is a sustained climb in excess of 10%.
From the entrance to the Alpine Village at 15.9km, take a right turn onto the Mt. Buller Summit Road and continue up the last stretch to the top. The end of the climb is designated by the Arlberg Hotel found on the left of the road just before the road surface changes to gravel.
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Mt. Buller is located around 270km north-east of Melbourne and is a truly alpine climb. While day trips to Mt. Buller are frequently made by skiers in winter, the long distances and strenuous climbing puts this climb out of reach of most day-tripping cyclists from Melbourne.
Accommodation is available in many of the neighbouring towns and with the terrific cycling country that surrounds Mt. Buller, an overnight stay or weekend in the area is ideal.
From Melbourne, Mt. Buller can be accessed a number of ways. One option is to take the Hume Freeway (M31) north from Melbourne, turn right onto the Upper Goulburn Road (C383) just before Tallarook, turn right onto the Goulburn Valley Highway (B340) at Trawool and then take the Maroondah Highway through Yarck and Bonnie Doon.
Another option is to follow Maroondah Highway east of Melbourne through Healesville, Marysville and Alexandra before turning right at Yarck.
Mt. Buller can be attempted from Mansfield for a 94km round trip or, for a shorter warm-up, the 12km ride from Merrijig is also a great option. The road from Mansfield to Mirimbah is through true rural areas with very few towns in between. As such, make sure you are adequately prepared with food and drink and in the case of mechanical difficulties.
For those that are keen to set the fastest time up the Mt. Buller climb, good luck. The current record is held by Simon Gerrans, a Mansfield local and stage winner in the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta A Espana. His phenomenal time of 39 minutes and 50 seconds is scarily fast and there are very few in the world who can match him.
To log a time up the Mt. Buller climb head over to Cycle2Max where the fastest time is around 51 minutes. A Strava segment for the climb (minus the final kilometre or so to the Arlberg Hotel) can be found here.