Mt. Donna Buang
Average gradient: 6.4%
Elevation gain: 1,069m
The climb from Warburton to the summit of Mt. Donna Buang is one of the true gems of Victorian cycling. Rising some 1080 vertical metres, the climb is amazingly picturesque and, for most of the year, virtually traffic free.
The first half of this climb is by far the hardest, but the last few kilometres to the summit are also quite steep.
The ascent of Mt. Donna Buang begins at the corner of the Warburton Highway (B380) and Donna Buang Road (C505). If you are timing yourself up this climb, start your stopwatch as soon as you turn onto the Donna Buang Road.
The ascent of Mt. Donna Buang concludes at the base of the lookout tower, found at the far end of the summit car park.
At a glance
- A beautiful, consistent climb with two noticeably steeper sections.
- The first steep section starts after 7km and extends for several hundred metres.
- There’s a short flat section at Cement Creek (7.3km) at which point you should turn left.
- The final 800m of the climb are noticeably steeper than the preceeding kilometres.
The ascent of Mt. Donna Buang starts with a fairly moderate gradient of around 5% as soon as you turn onto the Donna Buang Road. At the 2km mark the road takes a right-hand turn into the tree line and for the rest of the climb you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of the Yarra Ranges National Park.
The gradient increases 3.1km into the climb and again at the 5km mark with the corners being noticeably steeper than the straighter sections.
The steepest section of the climb comes at the 7km mark and this is maintained for a couple hundred metres before Cement Creek. The road flattens out as it crosses Cement Creek and you should turn left at the iconic hairpin, taking a quick breather before starting on the second half of the climb.
After the hairpin bend, the road resumes a gentle gradient of around 5% but unlike the first half of the climb, it is the straight sections that are the steepest here, with the corners appearing far flatter. As you climb your way steadily up the mountain, great views are often possible over the Yarra Valley with lookout points at 10.1km and 12.3km in.
At 14.1km into the climb, the road opens out into a massive carpark which stretches several hundred metres from one side to the other. The road is noticeably steeper from this point onward but the resealing of this section of the road in early 2009 means fairly smooth going for the rest of the climb.
15.6km into the ascent the summit road intersects with the Healesville backroad (C505) before continuing into the steepest section of the climb’s second half at the 16km mark. At 16.6km you will pass the car parks that are used by snow-seekers during winter, before climbing the last couple hundred metres to the summit car park and the end of the climb.
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Mt. Donna Buang is located around 90km east of Melbourne and a return ride from the city would be nothing short of epic. A more realistic option is to drive to one of the many townships close to Mt. Donna Buang which allow for a nice warm up before tackling the 17km ascent.
Launching Place is an appropriately-named starting point for a Mt. Donna Buang ascent, giving you around 15km of undulating roads before starting the climb.
The Donna Buang Road (C507) turn-off is located around 1.3km east of the nearest township, Warburton. Be aware that the Donna Buang Road (C505) between Don Road and the Mt. Donna Buang summit is closed during winter. However, this narrow stretch of unsealed road is surrounded by some truly amazing scenery and is well worth the drive during the rest of the year.
There are many cyclists who like to challenge themselves up this beautiful climb. If you are one of them, head over to Cycle2Max to post your time. The Strava segment for the Mt. Donna Buang climb can be found here.