Average gradient: 4.8%
Elevation gain: 1,013m
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 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).
The ascent of Mt. Buffalo ends at the now-closed Mt. Buffalo Chalet, marked by the entrance to the Gorge Day Car Park.
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).
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.
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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.