Mt. Buffalo

1st category climbLength: 20.9km
Average gradient: 4.8%
Elevation gain: 1,013m

View from the Mt. Buffalo climb.

Introduction

The stunning ascent of Mt. Buffalo in Victoria’s north-east is among the easiest of the Victorian Alps climbs. But, at a touch under 21km, the climb still demands strength and fitness of riders who are keen to partake in the breathtaking summit views.

The start

The ascent of Mt. Buffalo begins at the Mt. Buffalo National Park tollbooth, located around 6km from the intersection of the Mt. Buffalo Road (C535) and the Great Alpine Road (B500).

Start of the Mt. Buffalo climb.

The finish

The ascent of Mt. Buffalo ends at the now-closed Mt. Buffalo Chalet, marked by the entrance to the Gorge Day Car Park.

End of the Mt. Buffalo climb.

At a glance

  • A steady, consistent climb with some stunning views throughout.
  • There’s a false-flat 7.6km into the climb that lasts for the best part of 2km.
  • After 18.4km the road reaches a crest and you’ll descend onto the Mt. Buffalo plateau.
  • After 19.1km turn left to go to the Mt. Buffalo Chateau (1.8km), or right to Dingo Dell (4km).

Climb details

The Mt. Buffalo climb begins the moment you pass the tollbooth, albeit with a rather pedestrian gradient of around 5%. 900m into the climb the gradient increases slightly for several hundred metres before flattening out somewhat.

If you are looking forward to fantastic scenery and amazing views, you needn’t wait long: the fun begins as early as the 1.5km mark with ‘The Gorge’ on the right-hand side of the road. 500m later, at the Eurobin Creek, the road turns through a sharp right-hand hairpin before kicking up quite sharply. A more moderate gradient returns 400m later and, for the most part, the road climbs quite gently for the next couple kilometres.

The ascent of Mt. Buffalo is amazingly picturesque for most of the time not least of all due to a series of hairpin bends that cling to the mountain’s ridge line. One such hairpin comes at the 4.5km mark as the road bends sharply, and at an increased gradient, around to the right. One kilometre later the road bends sharply and very steeply around to the left.

After 6.2km you’ll face another steep and very tight left-hand hairpin after which the road continues to follow the ridge line with breathtaking views possible to the right of the road.

After another steep left-hand hairpin and around 7.6km of climbing the road flattens out considerably into a ‘false flat’. Remaining almost flat for the best part of 2km the road snakes its way through lush eucalyptus forest and a thick covering of native ferns.

By the time the road is climbing again, 9.8km from the tollbooth, the valley views are now possible on the left-hand side of the road. At the 10km mark you’ll pass ‘The Font’ and an amazing rock face on the left of the road.

The hairpins return 300m later with a sharp left-hand bend and then, at the 11km mark, a tight right-hand bend that takes you to Mackeys Lookout. With stunning views of the valley below this is a great place for a brief rest should you feel the need.

From Mackeys Lookout the road flattens out a fraction and remains that way for the rest of the climb. As the road bends left at the 11.9km mark a change in the vegetation becomes apparent with dead-looking snow gums visible ahead.

At the 14.8km mark, after several kilometres of fairly gradual climbing, the snow gums that were previously visible are now on both sides of the road. 700m later, at McKinnons Corner, a very sharp left-hand hairpin, another notable change occurs with the road becoming tighter and windier than the previous 15.5km. The road also leaves the ridge line as it winds around a series of hairpins like the tight right-hand bend at the 17.8km mark.

After 18.4km of climbing your efforts will be rewarded with a downhill section 700m in length. After descending onto the Mt. Buffalo plateau take a left-hand turn and climb the last couple kilometres to the Mt. Buffalo Chalet.

Of the 1800m from the turn-off, the first half is flat before the road climbs again, winding through a series of tight hairpin bends. The climb ends at the Mt. Buffalo Chalet, 20.9km from the tollbooth.

Profile

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Location

Mt. Buffalo is located roughly 350km north-east of Melbourne and 35km west of the nearest regional centre, Bright. If you are driving to the high country from Melbourne you can expect a four hour drive with the best option being to take the Hume Freeway (M31) to Wangaratta and then the Great Alpine Road (B500) toward Bright.

Accommodation of various sorts is available in many of the nearby towns including Bright, Porepunkah, Freeburgh, Germantown and Wandiligong.

The ascent of Mt. Buffalo can be attempted from Bright for a 70km return trip or, for a more serious day’s climbing, nearby climbs like the Tawonga Gap can be added.

Times

If you are keen to see how your time up Mt. Buffalo compares to other riders’, head over to Cycle2Max. The Strava segment for the Mt. Buffalo climb can be found here.

21 Comments

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  1. Rolf Kohnert / Feb 21 2014

    Rode up Mt Buff last Tuesday, nice day for it, warm and calm and the climb on a perfectly surfaced road was kids play even for this 75 year old. Scenery was great, but a cafe at the top would have been a real bonus. Climbed many passes in Europe and every one of them offers refreshments. It certainly draws the crowds.

  2. Helen / Dec 30 2013

    Dingo Dell Cafe at Mt Buffalo is open every day over January from 10am-5pm then out of holiday times is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Very cyclist friendly with bike racks and plenty of room to relax in comfort with a great coffee and some reasonably priced food.

  3. Taj / Dec 3 2013

    The greatest cycling event in Australia, the Audax Alpine Classic week at end Jan 2014, will have a range of the 200km riders leave Bright at 4am to climb The Buff before going onto Tawonga, Falls and back over Tawonga for the Classic 200km. The 4am ascent should be stunning and the sunrise descent a delight. As usual, lots of other events, all non-race recreational, but challenging none the less!

  4. Marion / Mar 18 2013

    This was my first Alpine Climb, I loved it! The views were great and the climb was as you described it many thanks for inspiring me to take the first steps in training for this climb, I am now going on to my next challenge any ideas for the next one?
    Thanks once again for a great site

  5. Tim Webber / Jan 28 2013

    No, I was too focused on doing the climb from Bright 3 times in the day and missed the photo opportunities…

  6. Tim Webber / Jan 28 2013

    On the Audax Alpine Classic yesterday they had to alter the route due to the bushfires, and the ACE 250 riders went another 6km past Dingo Dell to Cresta Valley, which adds another ~160m of climbing (and ~5km distance) compared to the route that stops at the Chalet. It was the first time I’ve done it, and it was certainly worth the effort with some beautiful views at Cresta Valley.

    • Matt / Jan 28 2013

      Did you get any photos Tim?

  7. Jon Thornton / Dec 5 2012

    I climbed Mt Buffalo for the first time on Monday. The scenery was stunning, the climb was great exercise and the descent was massive fun. Buffalo is heaps easier that Hotham or Baw Baw because it doesn’t have any nasty steep pinches. I reckon I saw two cars on the ascent and one on the descent. The amount of traffic probably goes up on the weekend and during school holidays.

  8. Richard / Nov 30 2012

    8 hours there and back for me including walking across to the West Peak above Mt Beauty. It’s a 1400 m climb, so quite hard. It seemed to stretch slightly different calf muscles on me.

  9. Richard / Nov 23 2012

    I find your website very interesting, Matt. All my life I have been a cycle tourer (with panniers), usually in France, but after moving to NE Victoria I have been cycling up some of the local climbs, Buffalo being my favourite. But your website encouraged me at 63 at long last to get a road bike this spring. Falls Creek and Hotham have been wonderful in recent days. Lake Mountain is next but not until my muscles recover from walking up Mt Bogong yesterday – now that makes cycling feel easy.

    • Matt / Nov 23 2012

      Thanks very much Richard. :) All the very best with Lake Mountain! Oh, and what’s Mt Bogong like (apart from long and hard)? How long does it take to hike it?

  10. Henry / Oct 23 2012

    TOo easy.

  11. kosh / Feb 22 2012

    The Alpine Classic is including the extra kilometres to Dingo Dell. I think this is now a preferred end to the ride over the Chalet site.

    There is a visitor center there with cafe and toilet facilities, although I can’t speak for the opening hours.

  12. b / Feb 12 2012

    Why stop there? Surely the finish of any climb is the top – where you can’t climb any more. On Buffalo that is the Horn – not the Chalet. The dirt road at the end isn’t too bad, and the view from the little car park and lookout is superb!

  13. Thad Roos / Jan 18 2012

    This is one of my Favourite climbs. Due to good ride length some challenging sections and awesome views. Its nice to Big Dog it through the false Flat too. Always take two bottles up this climb no matter what the weather due to time on the bike(maybe thats just the pace I go anyway) .

  14. Russell Noble / Mar 1 2010

    Hey, for a really nice ride instead of turning off Mt Buffalo Rd just keep riding up past Lake Catani – we stopped in at the kiosk/shop just past the lake. The lake provides an awesome backdrop and it’s a fast sweeping bit of road. Another great ride report and of one of my favourite climbs – did this one twice in the week before the ACE.

    Russ.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Riding the 7 Peaks in one go: part one | CyclingTips
  2. The Audax Alpine Classic | Beyond the Call
  3. An Alpine Cycling Adventure | Beyond the Call
  4. A slow and snowy ascent, without embro, on a set of fast Roval wheels | not-so-zen and the art of pink bicycles
  5. Mt Buffalo for 7 Peaks 2011/2012 « Ride Life [Get a Mountain Bike]
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