Mt. Donna Buang

1st category climbLength: 16.8km
Average gradient: 6.4%
Elevation gain: 1,069m

View from the Mt. Donna Buang climb.

Introduction

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 start

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.

Start of the Mt. Donna Buang climb.

The finish

The ascent of Mt. Donna Buang concludes at the base of the lookout tower, found at the far end of the summit car park.

Donna Buang finish

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.

Climb details

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 bends to the right 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.

Profile

This profile was created using Strava Routes.

This profile was created using Strava Routes.

Location

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.

Times

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.

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121 Comments

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  1. Paul / Apr 19 2014

    Keep in mind you have to come back down too. Donna has plenty of shade across the road so you’ll come across many corners you’ll enter that are totally dry, but halfway through the road can be wet so make sure you’re comfortable with your bike handling skills.

  2. karthik / Apr 14 2014

    hi David/Matt,

    I am an amateur rider, with 200 ks in my first month and totally sucked in with the fun of riding. I want to attempt the Mt DOnna Buang but have a couple of questions as I want to try it out this Easter Long weekend.

    1) Do you think that it would be advisable to attempt this already?
    2)What would be the best route to attempt this, besides the highway route that you have mentioned if your coming from Melbourne?
    3) What would be the weather like around Easter Weekend?
    4) Do I have to keep anything else in mind, that I have not mentioned?
    5) Is there a map I can use for this?

    I would be greatly appreciative of your advise.

    This website is brilliant by the way,I would be very proud if I was you!

    Karthik

    • Tooraj / Apr 18 2014

      Karthik,

      How much climbing have you done?

      Try some of the rides up Mount Dandenong first before trying Donna. Start with 1 in 20. Make sure you can do the Wall and the Observatory before Donna. Y0u need to sustain almost an hour of very hard work. If you haven’t done any climbing your heart rate will good too high and you can literally fall off the bike.

      Cheers,
      Tooraj

      • Karthik / Apr 19 2014

        Hi Tooraj,

        I have done hardly any climbing however I completed the Donna today. It took me a miserable 3 hours and I got off the bike about 10 times literally, as I couldn’t handle the gradient. Does that count???
        Last 5 ks I was literally walking the bike.
        Never fell off the bike though :)
        Karthik

        • Tooraj / Apr 19 2014

          Well that is one way of doing it. :-) It is better to stop and revive than fell off the bike. I personally do not find walking my bike too dignified, but sometime you want to get to the top no matter what. ;-)

          You now have a benchmark. See if you can doing with fewer stops!

          But seriously you are risking an injury. Start with easier climbs and build your strength and fitness, then come back and do it properly. You can climb it without stopping in no time.

          Cheers,
          Tooraj

  3. Tooraj Enayati / Sep 21 2013

    I found Donna harder than Lake Mountain. You get some reprieve at Lake Mountain. Donna is is a constant climb. I was really looking forward to Cement Creek but is hardly any relief – just a few metres! :-)

    If you have done Donna, you can do Lake Mountain no problems.

    • Paul / Sep 24 2013

      Hi Tooraj,

      Thanks for your feedback, I think I’ll give Lake Mountain a crack once the 7 Peaks season opens. I found the section before cement creek fairly tough going, but the second half was really nice, felt fairly similar to the 1/20 without all the cars. What would you suggest after Lake Mountain?

      • Tooraj Enayati / Sep 24 2013

        We should really have this discussion on the Lake Mountain page… but from memory it felt like 1 in 20 combined with Olinda climb from the Montrose side with a bit of undulation thrown in between.

  4. Paul / Sep 21 2013

    Finally got to do this today, first long climb, I’d be interested to hear how people think this climb compares to the other big ones in Victoria. Would Lake Mountain be natural progression from doing Donna? Beautiful ride though, first half was tough but the lyrebirds and trickling streams take your mind off your legs.

  5. Peter / Jul 27 2013

    I am a big fan of this climb from Healesville side. Its around 26 Km from the Cnr Maroondah Hwy and Don Rd. Great ride on the CX or hardtail as the middle section is fire trail. Would love to see the stats on this one.

  6. Stuart / Jul 2 2013

    Hi,are you able to do the whole climb during the
    Winter months? I was hoping to do it
    This month (July) thanks regards stuart

    • Martin / Jul 5 2013

      I’ve ridden Donna through numerous Winters (latest threepeat was last weekend)and these include rides shortly after snowfalls. I have been there when Parks have closed the gate at 500m to go if there is a reasonable covering of snow, but I have never been stopped from climbing around the gate and continuing past incredulous pedestrians. There are two lower gates (at 10 Mile Turntable and Cement Creek) but I have never seen those closed.

      Note a couple of weeks ago when it was particularly cold there was black ice from around 12km. Plus the descent is freezing in Winter since the climb is on the shaded south side of the mountain, so pack extra layers.

    • Matt / Jul 16 2013

      I did it today and it’s still in good condition for riding, no snow or ice around but it’s cold up the top.

      • MARTIN / Jul 20 2013

        Snowing quite heavily today according to the reports – so I’d be extra cautious riding up the mountain in the next few days.

  7. Steve / Apr 29 2013

    Hi Matt,

    Having done this climb a few times and after reading the comments on your website I’ve been itching to try the Double Donna. I finally had a chance to give it a crack yesterday. The weather was the best I’ve experienced on Donna and the sound of singing birds and trickling waterfalls helped distract my mind from the pain in my legs on the second ascent! Very happy to say I managed to conquer the double, now I’m already thinking about trying a triple ascent of what surely must be one of the most beautiful and best climbs in Victoria. Happy climbing everyone!

  8. kj / Apr 7 2013

    Nice Matt….. Did this climb earlier today, first mountain climb! Your rekky was spot on & really helped gauging efforts required and when. Great website! Great work! Cheers fella….. ;)

  9. Dave / Feb 10 2013

    Anyone looking for a great launching spot for Donna Buang, look no further than Ernest Lloyd reserve in Gladysdale. There is a toilet there and car parking. From there travel up Tarrango Rd then onto Old Warburton Rd. This acts as a solid ‘warm up’, and I use that term loosely, as the Old Warburton Rd climb is more than enough to get the heart rate up. Throw in a double Donna and you’re looking at a return trip of 102km and 3400m of elevation. Just for reference, I reckon Donna is tougher than Lake Mountain. Happy climbing.

    • Dave S / Mar 10 2013

      I think my strava elevation correction might be off on this one, it always seems to over represent elevation figures in comparison to other riders who do similar rides. Either way, still a tough day.

  10. Tim Rudolph / Feb 5 2013

    Really starting to enjoy your website..the breakdown of the climbs are great.
    We climbed Mt. Donna for the first time on Saturday morning.
    It was good hitting the climb armed with a little knowledge before hand..

    We all made it up, and it was a really good day.
    I would recommend the climb to to anyone training for the 3 Peaks.
    Next time we hope to go up twice.Thanks again…

  11. Tooraj / Jan 15 2013

    I saw more cyclists than cars! :-) Around 11 am on a Saturady I saw just a few climbing but probably a dozen or more decesending. Perhaps you’d see very few past noon.

    BTW, it takes a while to get to the top. It took me 100 minutes non stop, except one brief stop at 10 Mile picnic ground to fill up my water bottle – it felt like the best spring water I’ve ever had and it wasn’t even a hot day!

  12. Indra / Jan 15 2013

    Are there few cyclist on the way just in case if there is any emergency

  13. Indra / Jan 15 2013

    Thanks. Steep sections ar they very steep and would anyone know the gradient of those sections. Longest uphill I have done is kinglake and one day I have ride to mount dandenong from glen waverley via devils elbow and on the same day I did wall. So do you think

  14. Tooraj / Jan 15 2013

    Just recently when I rode there I think I only saw half a dozen cars and that was mid to late morning. You can hear them coming from a mile away. I’d say it is safe. It was so quiet and serene I could even hear bikes descending. That is only from the C507 turn off though. Warburton Hwy is pretty full on. I parked in the Woori Yallock shopping centre and I rode up to Warburton Hwy (I think that was 17 km). From memory, there is a decent shoulder all the way to Warburton.

  15. Indra / Jan 15 2013

    Thanks and are there many cyclist on weekend. Also is it safe.

  16. Tooraj / Jan 15 2013

    You know how Kinglake gets harder towards the end of the climb when the road swings around and the hills are on your left hand-side? The climb up Donna up to Cement Creek feels the same as that last part of King Lake climb.

  17. indra / Jan 15 2013

    is anyone doing mount Dona bua this weekend and is it much harder than Kinglake

  18. scott / Jan 9 2013

    Well after training in the Dandenongs I finally completed Donna today and found the first part to cement creek tough, I had to have a breather twice, one of those to fix a flat. The second half was easier but I found near the top again I had to stop for a breather, let the heart rate drop back down before going the final 300m to the top.
    I haven’t uploaded to starva yet but I believe my time was 97min + the stops. I think I did it in an elapsed time of just under 2hrs including fixing the flat tyre
    It was a lovely ride and the decent was fun, except for the freezing fingers!!

    Lake Mountain is next ;)

    • scott / Jan 10 2013

      ok I have uploded to strava – 2hr20min riding time plus 42min of resting time, so basically 3hrs elapsed including 15 to 20min changing a flat. something to work on ;) and I know I could have pused harder after cement creek.
      At least my descent times are respectable, benefit of being a fully fledged member of the Clydesdale club

  19. Tooraj / Dec 31 2012

    Mat, I rode it down in 23 mm tyres. I am guessing the wet winter has taken it’s toll on the unsealed road. I would hardly call it well packed road. There is lots of loose gravel. I could see a fresh impressions of a road bike on the other side of the road seemingly going up.

    BTW, once I got on the sealed road, I was flying down at over 50km/hr and there wasn’t a single car in sight. I practically rolled to Healsville almost without any peddling.

  20. Simon / Dec 31 2012

    Hi Matt, awesome site and I have been reading for a year or so working up the courage to do…….. Mt Donna Buang on 29er hard tail, took me freakin ages! Roadies passing me offering me encouragement……. But going down, i passed a few guys at speed ( I am 120kgs ). Recommend dipping feet in Yarra after all done.

  21. Tooraj / Dec 29 2012

    Matt, another excellent write up. Thank you. I rode up Mt. Donna today.

    I made the mistake of taking the back road to Healsville. There is a 10k dirt road, with steep downhills, narrow road, along cliff edges, with lots of loose gravel! The 10k part was many times worse than the climb itself. I’ll never do it again. I was crawling down and had to stop a few times for passing cars and get some relief from working the breaks too hard.

    Obviously the unsealed road condition has deteriorated since the earlier comment here. I’d recommend against riding it.

    Otherwise, it was a fantastic ride. I’ll be back to do it properly through the sealed road.

    • Matt / Dec 31 2012

      Hey Tooraj, did you ride up the dirt section, down it or both? I know a bunch of people who’ve ridden up in 23mm tyres in winter and it’s been fine…:)

  22. Tooraj / Dec 27 2012

    Shouldn’t the third paragraph under Location section say “The Donna Buang Road (C507) turn-off is located around 1.3km east of the nearest township, Warburton.” i.e C507 instead of C505?

    • Matt / Jan 1 2013

      Great pick-up Tooraj, thanks! All fixed now.

  23. David / Dec 24 2012

    I did it for the first time today on my XC.. found the gradient pretty easy compared to some of the forest trails I’m used to but over 17 steady kms it is a worthy challenge. The wind howling and threatening to topple trees was the greatest concern, the bonus being totally alone the whole way up and back (started at 5:50am). However, I decided to descend via the direct forest trail (3.7kms) to warburton. This was the hairiest downhill I’ve ever done and there went my relaxing downhill reward!!!

  24. BillyJoe / Dec 24 2012

    I haven’t done the Donna Double yet, but…

    Anyone else climb Donna Buang yesterday in the 39 degree heat?
    (It was 32 degrees at Launching Place when I started out, and 39 degrees when I returned)
    My time was too embarrasing to publish here but at least I beat my best downhill time which now stands at 23:45

  25. Graeme Anderson / Nov 30 2012

    My cycling mate Tim and I did Mt Donna Buang yesterday from Launching Place and back. It was our first attempt and I chose a day that had a warm minimum overnight temperature and was predicted to be a hot day. This way, I figured that we would not freeze at the top. Well the day turned out to be 39 degrees! It didn’t matter much as we were on the bikes by 7:00am.
    The traffic on the 13km of Warby Hwy, outbound, was fairly light at that time and similar for the return trip around 11:00am. By that time we had dodged all the school traffic and people were at work, being a Thursday.

    The ride was great and a challenge for us old boys. The ascent part took us 1h27 and by the time we descended again to Warburton, the temperature was above 30 degress. That did not deter us from having our coffee and scroll at the bakery before a fast ride back to the car at Launching Place.
    During the Donna Buang part of the ride we saw only 1 car and 3 other cyclists. The only negative was Tim’s front tyre puncture on the descent, which did not cause any drama.

    This is a great ride and we will be doing it again, hopefully with the rest of our group.

    • Matt / Nov 30 2012

      Great stuff Graeme. :)

    • BillyJoe / Dec 7 2012

      Yeah, you old boys beat me by 5 minutes – and that was my second attempt.
      After doing Lake Mountain last Sunday (exactly the same time as Donna Buang: 92 minutes), I’m going to attempt the Double Donna, starting and finishing at Launching Place.
      Unfortunately the weather forecast does not look promising (20 degrees and rain).

  26. BillyJoe / Nov 19 2012

    I did Mt Donna Buang yesterday from Launching Place and back.
    The first leg to the base took 35 minutes (13.5km). From the base to the hairpin took 45 minutes (7.5km) and then another 53 minutes (9.9km) to the top, so the total time for the hill climb was just under 1:38:00 (17.4km). But still plenty of energy to run up the tower. And the return back to Launching Place took just under 30 minutes

    But I think I’m going to have trouble with The Three Peaks!
    What do you think?

    It rained all the way up and it was snowing lightly at the top. Unfortunately, despite taking extra clothing, I froze on the way down. I had to stop a few times to get some blood back into my fingers. But, worse still, my hands kept cramping up holding onto the brakes. This has never been a problem going ove Mt Dandenong and the 1 in 20. It actually took me 45 minutes to descend!

    There obviously something wrong with the ergnomics of the braking system that I’ll have to figure out and fix before I go again next weekend.

    • BillyJoe / Nov 25 2012

      The weather was much better this Sunday:
      No rain, no snow, pretty warm in fact.

      I improved my time by 6 minutes (98 min -> 92 min).
      - to the hairpin bend (45 min -> 40 min)
      - on to the top (53 min -> 52 min)

      Someone passed me like I was standing still.

      I might try Lake Mountain next Sunday.

  27. Jon Thornton / Nov 12 2012

    Do you really want a total stranger to tell you whether you are capable of doing 3 Peaks? How could anyone other than yourself know?

    I suggest that you work towards 3 Peaks by doing lots of climbing and spending lots of time in the saddle. If by March you have proven to yourself that you are ready the give 3 Peaks a go.

    Good luck.

    • BillyJoe / Nov 14 2012

      Thanks.

      But I thought that perhaps, looking at my track record so far, someone would be able to tell me if I have any hope in hell of doing the three peaks.

      I mean, if I had been able to complete the Around The Day ride in four hours, the ride over the Dandenongs in under an hour, and the 1 in 20 in under fifteen minutes, I would probably be able to handle the three peaks.
      But with just over eight hours, just under one and half hours, and just under twenty-five minutes for these three rides respectively, I’m not so sure.

      But perhaps I should just take it one at a time and see if I can handle Mt. Donna Buang from Launching Place and back this week end.

      • Jon Thornton / Nov 15 2012

        Hi Billy Joe

        I’m kind of in the same boat as you. In Jan of this year, I completed one of the shorter Alpine Audax rides (Bright, Tawonga, Falls return). This coming Jan, I’m hoping to do the same ride plus Buffalo. I’ve never done this exact ride before, so I don’t know whether I will be able to do it.

        For me, part of the enjoyment of cycling is the trepidation I feel at the start of a long ride. Not knowing whether I can complete a ride and then completing it is very satisfying to me.

        You could either prove to yourself that 3 Peaks is possible, or embrace the trepidation. Either way, completing a few mega-climbs before 3 Peaks is probably advisable. Have you considered doing one of the Alpine Audax rides this coming Jan as preparation?

        Good luck on Donna this weekend.

  28. BillyJoe / Nov 11 2012

    I have read enough on your site to realise that I need to progress as follows: Mt Donna Buang -> Lake Mountain -> Falls Creek -> Three Peaks.
    The question is: do I have a hope of completing the Three Peaks?

    I took up cycling eleven weeks before this year’s 210km Around The Bay ride, which I completed non stop (except for a 20 minute lunch break) in 8:41:14 (including the 20 minute lunch break).

    In training, I ride over the Dandenongs from Mooroolbark to the entrance to the lower picnic ground in FTG, taking in the 1 in 20 on the way. At the far end, I walk/run for about an hour, including the 1000 steps. Then I return back to Mooroolbark by bike. Today I did my best time for the 1 in 20 in 24:45, and completed the whole thing, including the 57 minute walk/run, in 4:32:00. Next weekend I plan to do Mt Donna Buang from Launching Place and back.

    So, can someone like me hope to complete the Three Peaks next March, or is it just a pipe dream? Should I perhaps stick with the Around The Bay ride? Should I just give up and go back to running?

  29. Jack / Nov 6 2012

    Hey guys,
    I am a very novice cyclist but I am thinking on riding from my house (Launching Place) to Mount Donna and back,my main concern is’nt with the climb, it’s with the trip on the Warburton highway. Does anyone have any tips when on it?

    • Matt / Nov 6 2012

      Hi Jack. A good question. The Warburton Highway can get a little nasty in places and drivers seem to be rather less courteous along there than on other roads I’ve ridden. That said, there’s a shoulder to ride on most of the way to Warburton from Launching Place and on the few sections where there isn’t, it’s fine as long as you stay left. The other option, if you don’t mind riding on the gravel, is the Lilydale- Warburton Rail Trail. It runs alongside the main road and is totally doable with 23mm summer tyres. Hope that helps!

  30. OldnSlow / Nov 4 2012

    When I read that George Mallory completed the ride 8 times I freaked out even though I hadn’t ridden the mountain myself, – I’ve just completed it for the first time this morning and realise that I dont even deserve to wash George’s socks…fantastic effort…thanks for all the advice on here as it really helped around Cement Creek and the steepness of the final km, Just when you think you are home in the carpark area it just doesn’t stop. Good fun though.

  31. Brad / Oct 31 2012

    I climbed it for the first time with a few mates on Monday. Thought we were pretty good climbing it twice. Until we found out George Mallory did over 9,000 metres climbing it the same day. Massive respect for him.

  32. Stephen / Oct 30 2012

    Hi Matt
    Thinking of going up Donna Buang a couple of times this weekend including once up the back way from Don Rd, any issues doing this on a road bike in your opinion, enjoy the website by the way.
    Cheers
    Stephen

    • Matt / Oct 31 2012

      Thanks Stephen! The back way up Donna is fine on a road bike, particularly if it’s nice and dry. I’d be a little wary of descending the dirt side on a roadie though — it can be a little slippery in the dirt! You could always start in Healesville, ride up the dirt side to the summit, descend to Warby, climb the sealed side, descend to Warby then ride back to Launching Place then back over the Panton Gap (Don Rd) back to Healesville.

  33. Jon Thornton / Sep 24 2012

    I climbed Donna for the first time on Saturday. Conditions were great – sunny and not a breath of wind. I really enjoyed the climb (except for the steep bit at the end). My fingers froze on the way down. Next time, I’ll take some winter gloves for the descent.

    If it were not for this excellent website, I probably would have never discovered this ride. Thanks for the excellent ride info.

    • Matt / Sep 24 2012

      Oh thanks Jon! Much appreciated. :) Glad you enjoyed the ride – Donna’s one of my favourite climbs, for sure.

  34. Josephine / Jun 11 2012

    thanks for that Matt the trip is now back on

  35. josephine / Jun 7 2012

    i like the place but im very upset that donna buang road is closed in winter because my whole family was planing on going up there and staying in a hotel near by for 3 nights we have been planing this for 3 months and already bought everything we needed and even the hotel but now we can’t go because the road will be closed!
    so im very upset.

    • Matt / Jun 7 2012

      Hi Josephine, which road are you referring to? The road from healesville to Donna buang is closed to cars but you can still get up the mountain. You just need to go via Warburton and drive up that way.

      The road is closed about 500m from the lookout tower in winter but you can easily park and walk up.

      I can’t see road closures and snow ruining your trip – if anything, it should make it more exciting.

      Please let me know if I can provide further info!

  36. Thomas / May 7 2012
  37. Richard / May 4 2012

    I haven’t reached the summit yet but I have only been back on the bike for 7 weeks. I made it to Cement Creek on my Specialized dual Suspension Mountain Bike. Next will be riding it to the summit.

    Great site thanks for taking the time in putting ot together.

    Cheers

    • Matt / May 4 2012

      Pleasure Richard. Best of luck with Donna! She’s lovely once you get to know her. ;)

  38. Nick Orloff / Apr 21 2012

    Did Donna today for the first time. What a stunning climb.

    We ended up doing an 80K loop: Starting in Launching Place, up the climb, nice well deserved rest at the top, then descended Donna Buang Rd (10Km of well packed dirt road, closed over winter. We saw wallabies & lyre birds) to Don Rd, on to Healsville and back around to Launching Place.

    80k and 1,500m of climb. Perfect weather (ok, maybe a little chilly on the descent) no traffic – 6 cars in nearly 30Km of riding – and amazing scenery.

    Now I need to give it a try when there’s some snow on the ground.

  39. christine crombie / Apr 3 2012

    Great information and will take warm clothing, thank you. I’m giving Mt Donna Buang a go tomorrow, although it does sound a bit steep. Cheers

    • Selim / Apr 19 2012

      This website rocks – I am looking forward to doing Mt Donna Buang tomorrow (Friday 20 April) – welcome anyone to join me…

  40. Anthony / Mar 18 2012

    We climbed this yesterday 17MAR2012, it was a beautiful day. We started Launching Place and rode the rail trail to Warburton due to the thick fog on the Warburton Hwy. We thought the visibility on the climb to the summit would be next to nothing, but just a km up the climb the fog lifted and the sun was shining through. I found this climb to be relatively easy, it’s quite long but after a couple of km’s my heart rate had settled down and it was just a matter of managing a steady cadence and taking some fluid on board. The hairpin at Cement Creek is pretty cool, and definitely does offer a nice break. I have to admit, when I saw the “Summit 3km” sign I got a bit antsy and hit the gas only to be welcomed by a rather steep section, then the “Summit 1km” sign and I felt like I was sprinting to the top. I finished the climb around 70 minutes, it was a conservative effort on my part not knowing how to pace on the way up. Disappointingly, the viewing tower atop Mt Donna Buang is closed until Easter Weekend, so don’t plan on taking in the view until after then. Lastly, bring some very warm clothes for the descent, it was extremely warm on the way up (12C at Launching Place), but my Garmin reported 8C on the way down. We descended Don Rd, which was a bit damp, but actually quite easy to do on a road bike, even at 40-50km/h. The loop took us to Healesville, then back down Koo Wee Rup Rd to Dalry and back to Launching Place. Next ride plan is very ambition, start at Launching Place, up to the summit of Donna Buang, then on to Marysville to climb Lake Mountain, the ride will conclude in Marysville with ~120km and 2600m of climbing. On the topic of gearing, Donna Buang would easily be doable on 39/25, go for a 27 or 28 cassette if you want a breathing space after standing on the 25 for a while.

    A BIG thanks to Matt for the great site.

    Enjoy!

    • Matt / Mar 18 2012

      Great comments Anthony. Thanks very much. :)

  41. Ben / Mar 12 2012

    I rode up Mt Donna Buang over the weekend. Thanks for the great site, lots of valuable information, makes it a lot easier taking the next step and riding somewhere new. Definitely recommend the extra layers for coming down. I hope the Three peaks went well.
    Ben

  42. Karl / Mar 10 2012

    Thanks to this site, it made me venture up today for the first time.
    Im not a hill climber, but I did accomplish it, took me 1:20, I found the last km the hardest, was only able to get 10kph out of my legs by then.

    The decent was quick in 20mins, and I was freezing.
    Lucky I left a towel in my car, and I was able to use the hot water shower in the campground (requires $1 coin).

    I am now motivated to do more climbs. I’ll do this one again in a few weeks I reckon.

    • Matt / Mar 11 2012

      Well done Karl, congrats!

  43. Lauren / Jan 11 2012

    Awesomest descent ever!! Climbed Donna for the first time last Thursday and while I suffered on the way up, you couldn’t get the smile off my face on the way down. Simply brilliant descent. The bit at Cement Creek had me grabbing at my brakes though – that was steep!

    Around 1.5hrs to summit but under 25 minutes to get down ;)

    (And yes, it has been commented many times that I descend like a crazy woman :)

  44. Damian / Nov 21 2011

    guys, when you’re describing a climb, id suggest that you also talk about the gears you use and times achieved. Not one of the comments above make mention of suggested gears (i.e. 39×21,19 for the first section and possibly 39×17 if you’re on form for the last section – for example). yes, its all subjective, cause as we all know, on a bad day, those gears are not going to be the same. But, by providing suggested gears and times, it will provide the new riders better information from which to prepare from.

  45. Chris OConnor / Nov 7 2011

    Have written up *MY* ride to Donna Buang – fairly tough going – for my first ‘proper’ hill climb – but great achievement (for me).

    http://grumpywookie.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/hill-climb-for-horseride-mt-donna-buang/

  46. Pam / Nov 7 2011

    A group of us did this ride on Sunday 6/11 – we usually ride the hills around Kinglake (which are beautiful & we are lucky to have them on our doorstep ) but I now consider Kinglake a bump in the road ! Doona Buang is our first mountain and we were pumped to have got there (we did Hi Five’s at the summit, much to onlookers disgust !)Was doubtful the night before but Matt your website is spot on & all the way up I knew what to expect, that I could do it & NOT turn around ! Next one is Mt Buller :)

    • Matt / Nov 7 2011

      Hi Pam, that’s great to hear – congratulations! I’m glad the site was of some use to you.

      Mt Buller is an absolute cracker. One of the most picturesque climbs out there. Do let me know how you go!

      Thanks for stopping by…:)

  47. Chris OConnor / Oct 31 2011

    Great write-up – thanks ! Riding this route tomorrow (Melb.Cup.Day) – will let you know how I go. :-)

  48. Miguel / Sep 16 2011

    This site is fantastic. I will climb Donna B tomorrow and Skenes Creek with the Gran Fondo Amy ride on sunday.
    I will leave my comments but for now

    Thanks so much for taking the time to maintain this site
    Regards

    • Matt / Sep 16 2011

      Hi Miguel, thanks for stopping by — glad you like the site! Best of luck with Donna and the Gran Fondo.

  49. Graeme / Sep 3 2011

    Hi Matt, Being an absolutely dedicated flat track specialist I didn’t anticipate that your site would be so useful. Impending trip to France has finally motivated the latent climber in me ( my friends would say VERY latent !! ). Ventured to Donna for the first time today and very stoked to have completed the climb. Warm up ride from Launching Place was excellent advice and details on the climb were brilliant – particularly notes about the steep section before Cement Creek. Wind was howling at the top – last couple of Ks were pretty challenging into a block head wind. Definitely need warm clothing for the descent – nice temperature today but still pretty cold on the way down. Refuelled at the bottom and climbed back to Cement Creek – didn’t feel I had enough in the tank for a full repeat. Need to be careful on the highway back to Launching Place – quite a few more cars around later in the morning and not a lot of room on the verge. Site is fantastic – thanks for efforts to set this up. Am planning to do Macedon next weekend so will get a chance to check out pointers on that climb as well. Genuinely enjoyed Donna today – as you said a real gem and hardly any traffic on the climb. Maybe 7-8 cars on way up and two on the descent. Cheers GRS

    • Matt / Sep 3 2011

      Hi Graeme. Thanks for your kind words – I’m glad you’ve got some use out of the site. :)

      Donna is definitely one of my favourite climbs – manageable gradient, challenging length, beautiful scenery and it’s nice and quiet up there. I think the Launching Place warmup is good too – get’s you nicely warmed up without turning it into a ridiculously long ride.

      Best of luck out at Macedon – do let us know how you go! And of course, feel free to tell your friends about the site! ;)

      Cheers,

      Matt

  50. justin / Sep 1 2011

    Thanks for your reply Matt, will have to undertake Donna Buang and give you my feedback on what I think is harder. Also a fantastic and resourceful site you have here keep up the tremendous good work !!

    Kind regards
    Justin Bonavia

    • Matt / Sep 1 2011

      No worries Justin. Thanks for your kind words. :)

  51. Paul Semmens / Aug 14 2011

    Did the climb for the first time yesterday, first time for any Cat 1 climb in fact. Was a bit apprehensive about it and rightly so as it turned out! Probably didn’t help having quite sore legs before I started, but it was a beautiful climb and one I’ll do again before too long. Cracker of a descent too, was cold but not too cold, due to being well rugged up thanks to the good advice given above.

    Thanks Matt and keep up the good work :)

    • Matt / Aug 14 2011

      No worries Paul. Glad you enjoyed the climb and that you found the site useful! :)

  52. justin / Aug 13 2011

    hi there,
    Just wondering how does donna buang compare to doing the (gisborne) then (woodend) side of mount macedon ????

    Kind regards

    Justin Bonavia

    • Matt / Aug 13 2011

      Good question Justin. About the same I’d think, although the Macedon x2 has much steeper sections than Donna. Because of that I’d say the Macedons are probably slightly harder.

  53. Martin / Aug 3 2011

    Not mental, just training for a trip to France…

    Ended up with 23 ascents over 8 rides since 30 April! I was rugged up like you, but also wore a merino thermal top and also slipped on plastic waterproof pants for the descents which made it just a little more bareable.

  54. chris / Jun 26 2011

    3 repeats Martin! You are a mental!

    Just knocked this ride off on the weekend, great ride, plenty of snow at the top with a few kids tabogganing. Had gloves, beanie, jersey, sleeveless gilet, cycle jacket + wind/water proof jacket and on the way down was still shivering violently. With the snow the roads were very wet so it was a very VERY cautious descent.

    I’m pretty sure they’ve relaid this road since the last time some months ago as it felt SOO much steeper!

  55. Martin / May 20 2011

    Love this climb (and your site).

    I’ve ridden Melbourne return in the past – over Mt Dandenong then via small back roads through Wandin East to join the Warburton hwy at Woori Yallock and returning via Macclesfield Rd and the Wall but only riding the once up Donna doing this.

    Recently I’ve been driving out to Warburton and riding repeats instead. 2 repeats on 30 April and 3 repeats on 7 May. Even with layers each descent was very cold!

  56. Mike / May 5 2011

    Hi Matt, great site thanks, I can confirm your comment above “Mt. Donna Buang is located around 90km east of Melbourne and a return ride from the city would be nothing short of epic.” We did this ride as part of our Audax traning just after Christmas on a 30+ degree day and epic is exactly how I would rate it. The climb is enjoyable but the rolling hills most of the way back to Melbourne were a killer. We are heading out there (by car) this weekend to try a double Donna repeat, 34km of great climbing……. Mike

    • Matt / May 5 2011

      Hi Mike – thanks for your kind words. Great effort to ride to Donna and back in a day. I know what you mean about the rolling hills on the way back – the Warburton Highway is a bit gnarly to ride on, assuming you went that way. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  57. sean Mullins / Apr 19 2011

    Finally made it up Dona Buang at the weekend. Definitely tougher than I thought given the gradient, I guess it’s the distance and the unrelenting nature. The bit near 7k before cement creek, and the bit at the end are both very hard. But it was a lovely day, though the downhill ride was really really chilly. I did have arm warmers, but no jacket and I was glad to make use of the newspaper a kind soul offered me at the top!
    Definitely one I plan to repeat as training for the Etape in July.

  58. John Todor / Apr 8 2011

    Did the Mt Donna Buang ride yesterday with my mate Patob. Perfect day, great ride for a couple of old hacks, fantastic descent. The only thing missing was a coffee at the top :( We had to wait till we got back to Warby.

  59. Peter Zumpe / Mar 8 2011

    Hi Matt

    Thanks for putting this website together. Inspired by your profile I climbed Mt Buller last Sunday. A very enjoyable ride with great views. Having information on the gradient and other conditions made preparing for the ride a lot easier.

    • Matt / Mar 8 2011

      Hi Peter. No problem at all, glad you like the site. :)

  60. Steel / Mar 5 2011

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for putting together this website. It’s inspired me to challenge myself on a few rides that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve done Arthurs Seat and Kinglake before, but riding for me was mostly in the comfort zone of beach road and Kew boulevard laps. This webpage lets you know in advance what to expect which helps you to overcome the mental hurdles of the bigger mountain climbs.

    So, this morning a mate and I tackled Donna Buang and we were pretty impressed. The climb gets you out of your comfort zone fairly early on which is great. The middle section allowed me to really push harder up to 13-15 km/h, but I probably should have backed off a little as the last 3 kms kicked my butt.

    The decent is freezing cold, even though it was a relatively warm day – 26 degrees in Melbourne. This is partly due to the fact that the decent doesn’t feature many sharp corners so speeds are usually in excess of 50 km/h for the whole trip down. So come prepared with a fold up wind breaker and armies or prepare to work the brake levers.

    • Matt / Mar 6 2011

      Hey Steel. I’m stoked to hear that the site has inspired you to head for the hills, as it were! When I started it up that was a big part of what I was trying to achieve – giving people enough information that they could head out and challenge themselves while knowing in advance whether these climbs were within their reach. So, thanks for letting me know that I’ve gone some way to achieving that aim!

      Donna is a gem of a climb – I reckon the first section to Cement Creek is the hardest and after that is gets a bit easier. As you say though, those last few kays have a bit of bite so it’s worth saving some energy for the end. As for the cold – the first time I headed up to Donna it was a day just like yesterday – around 26 degrees, sun shining, and I went up there with shorts and a short-sleeved jersey on, nothing else. I froze my arse off on the way down and have never made the same mistake again!

  61. Victor / Feb 24 2011

    I rode up Mt Donna Buang with 13 others on July 3rd last year. We called it the Mt Donna Buang Snow Ride, and it’s advertised on the Bicycle Victoria online forum a few months prior to July each year. It was a truly memorable day, freezing cold on the way back down to Warburton, though!

  62. Gavin / Jan 30 2011

    Just returned from a lovely ride up Mt.DB. Started at the Launching place pub which gave us a 30min warm up before the climb. The higher we got the windier it got but truely one of the best climbs close to home.

  63. chris / Jan 25 2011

    The best “proper” climb that is a reasonable distance from Melbourne. Shall be hitting this up tomorrow – being Australia Day. What better way to spend the day than a morning climb followed by BBQ and beers?

    • Matt / Jan 25 2011

      Couldn’t agree more Chris. Terrific climb and a most satisfying way to spend a morning. Have fun!

  64. Michael / Jan 6 2011

    Yes I agree with Matt the Healesville to Donna via the Don Road is awesome. It’s fairly quiet and very nice scenery. I rode it last weekend it is a little rougher on the way down than the way up but the biggest pain is in summer is the dust the cars kick up … unfortunately not everyone in a car slows down and therefore you can swallow a lot of dust, besides that it is a fun ride.

    • Matt / Jan 6 2011

      I hadn’t thought about the dust Michael, good point. When I rode up there I think I saw one car for the whole trip? ‘Twas pure bliss – great climb, great scenery, quiet roads, great weather. :)

  65. Jeff / Jan 2 2011

    If you ride a mountain bike or hybrid the rail trail from Lillydale to Warby is a lovely ride.
    You can also return from from Mt Donna Buang via the dirt road that heads towards Healsville then turns off to finish at Launching Place.
    This is a beautiful scenic ride of approx 30kms, all downhill. I have riden this road on a tandem and on a mountain bike with road tyres no problems. The road is closed over winter

    • Matt / Jan 2 2011

      Hi Jeff. You are correct on both counts. The Lilydale-Warburton rail trail is a gem and well worth a look. And as for the dirt road between Donna and Healesville, it too is a gem. In fact, the climb from Healesville up to Donna via Don Road and then that dirt road is a tremendous ride and very quiet.

  66. sean Mullins / Dec 17 2010

    Hi,
    sounds great, I would like to tackle this as i’m getting into climbing again for the first time in years.
    As I dont have a car, I would have to go via train to Lilydale, and ride from there – just looking at the map it looks like I could go back via c505 towards Healsvile,
    is this a doable day trip (and is it a nice route?)

    • Matt / Dec 18 2010

      Hi Sean. Thanks for stopping by. Riding from Lilydale to Donna Buang would be a fairly significant undertaking – around a 110km round trip. While that’s not an unfeasably long ride, the road from Lilydale to Warburton isn’t the nicest ride around. The Warburton Highway is pretty narrow in parts and cars tend to move along pretty swiftly along that stretch of road.

      That said, it’s certainly doable and if you do end up doing it, let me know how you go. :)

      • Ed Muggles / Mar 13 2012

        Matt and Sean,
        the other option is the rail trail, while gravel, it is very smooth and gentle.
        just be aware that the return journey has the ever so gentle up hill at the end for the last 20-30km that just saps the last of your energy.

  67. Andrew Taylor / Sep 4 2010

    I just rode the Donna climb today. Even though it was freezing cold and pouring with rain the entire climb I really enjoyed it, great surrounds and nice landscape to enjoy, a little snow on the sides of the road once near the top and the road was nice and quiet. With all the rain this past few days the small waterfall I passed was a nice piece of eye candy to enjoy while my legs suffered and my hands froze. All in all I really enjoyed the climb because it was a nice steady gradient with no really steep sections and it was nice and easy to find a comfortable rhythm. The last 3k got a little steeper but it was a great was to push myself hard right to the end, I can’t wait for summer when this climb will really be enjoyable with nice warm weather and sunlight. Highly recommended, even if it is a wet day!

    • Matt / Sep 4 2010

      Hi Andrew. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Mt Donna Buang is one of my favourite climbs, no question. It’s such a beautiful climb and with a bit of rain around I can imagine it was even more picturesque than usual. I guess it was pretty cold on the way down?!

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