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 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.
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.
The Strava segment for the Mt. Donna Buang climb can be found here.
188 Replies to “Mt. Donna Buang”
Still patiently waiting for VicRoads to fix the land-slip. Been nearly two years now and there’s still half of the road missing. Definitely makes the descent more interesting!
I went up there two weeks ago and got absolutely monstered by march flies! Got bit on the ankle and knee. Every time I stopped I got swarmed by them. I actually had a group of about five or six oof them follow me the whole way from the car park at the14km mark to the summit!! It was awful. I’ve never ever experienced this before.
Oof, that sounds horrible! Sorry to hear that!
Yep,I agree with Lauren, March flies are something horrendous ..I normally stop at 14km mark to get a breather ,and was totally attacked -at least 10 at any given moment (late Feb ).
Will do this ride Sat 19th and take the roll-on aeroguard,hopefully it will work.Stay safe !
Did this climb for the first time yesterday.
Still no action on the road though.
At about the 6km mark there are some temporary traffic lights set up as the road is reduced to single lane for about 150m ( not sure if these pick up cyclists – so I just was carful and kept going- does anyone else know?)
It was a good climb as described here – Great site Matt.
Thanks for the update Ian. You’re right, it’s such a stunning climb. I gotta get out there again soon!
Yes Ian, the roadwork lights definitely apply to cyclists. We must stop at the red. Did the Dirty Donna on Sunday, and we copped the red on way down. The half road that was open was not in great nick…..would hate to meet a vehicle coming the other way……..
Rode up on Friday and the road works is still happening. It is a great climb and very few cars as always.
Just a word of caution – the descent from Cement Creek for the first few kms has deteriorated and is bouncier and rougher than ever.
Good to know, Peter, thank you!
Did a Donna Triple on Jan 16. Had done a double twice before, but as I’m training for Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, I decided I really needed to put myself in the hurt-locker so I could test the mental perseverance factor. The 3rd ascent was definitely far from pleasant, but I made it. While I don’t find any gradient on the ascent particularly challenging, I think the fact that it’s almost 17km of continuous climbing really takes it out of the muscles. An hour and a half of constant pressure for each ascent, it takes it out of the legs.
Anyway, next time (if I’m completely crazy), a quad! lol.
Oh, and the last half of the descent – that road surface is getting pretty dodgy in places.
Nice work! A Triple Donna is no joke. If you can do a Triple Donna, you can do 3 Peaks. And yeah, sadly, there are some sketchy spots on that descent.
Yep, this will be my 5th 3-peaks this year. Always gotta include some brutal hurt locker to prepare the mind. Donna Buang is always a big part of my training.
Oh wow, very cool!
Rode Mt Donnabuang for the first time on Good Friday 2 April 2021. A beautiful day. A wonderful ride.
I was 64, 191 cm and 110 kg. Made it but that last 600 meters or so was tough
Didn’t pass anyone but quite a few passed me! It took me close to 2 hours of continuous riding and I’m waiting to be presented with a medal for the slowest ride ?
It was glorious and due to gravity made short shrift of the descent.
I was inspired in part by reading this site. Marvellous. Now to lose weight and do it again.
Enjoyed this climb. Hardly any car that passed me (6 throughout my leisurely 2hr climb). Did it on 21 Oct. Fresh air all the way. Highly recommended.
Did this climb last Saturday, awesome climb, picturesque, make sure you bring plenty of water you, the last half kms is very tough, it gets steeper just as you near the top.
Made this climb on the weekend, it is an amazing part of the world to ride. It is definitely a ride of two sections, split by the hairpin at cement creek that gives a breather (and a bathroom). The first section is the harder of the two and the gradient does not provide a break but the second section just keeps going. The beautiful scenery is a great distraction and if you are not racing the clock, stop and enjoy the views.
I will repeat a few of the previous comments on the weather, it may be warm at the bottom or during the climb but the decent is long and in the trees, you can get cold, take at least a gillet and arm warmers.
This climb provides it challenge more through length than gradient, but keeps you honest and working the entire way. Add to your bucket list.
I agree, when i went it was about 25 degrees in Warbution, at the top of Donna is was about 15 degrees and i was freezing on the decent! Did Lake Mountain last weekend but the top of Donna is a lot cooler i found.
JB well written. I am weather permitting going to do it this coming weekend!
Does anyone know whether the circa 13.5km section of gravel from Cement Creek along Acheron Way towards Narbethong is OK for road bikes? I’m OK with riding standard road bike on gravel, but 13.5km is a bit of a long section… Is it similar to riding down Don road down towards Launching Place from Panton Gap?
Yep, it’s fine! It’s part of the CyclingTips Giro della Donna route!
IMHO, climbing Donna Buang via Acheron Way is actually a much more enjoyable route. Gravelier, true, but gentler and even more beautiful.
Park up at the intersection about 2km north of Narbethong, where the Acheron Way peels off from Marysville Rd (St Fillans, rather wonderfully, on G Maps). The first 15km rises gently (3-4%, at a guess) along a ribbon of traffic-free sealed single-lane, with towering tall forest on all sides, and the Acheron River babbling at your left shoulder. The road turns to a reliably road-bikeable gravel with still five or more kms to climb, just as the surrounds become more consistently rain forest. The road then plateaus, and even descends a touch into (the less romantically named) Cement Creek. Hook a right into Donna Buang Rd, enjoy the return of the tarmac, and complete the ascent as in the route above. 35ish kms one way, if memory serves.
And yes, rug up, and maybe throw in an extra spare tube.
My husband and I are visiting Australia from America and were having a hard time finding good climbs until stumbling across this website. We’ve now done about five of the climbs and they’ve all been awesome. We did Donna Buang today and I think it was my favorite. The trees and ferns are beautiful, very few cars and a nice, steady climb. I appreciated the warnings to bring warm clothes. Thanks for such a great website!
After about a 20 year gap,rode up Donna Buang on 3rd March 2017.The temp at Warburton was about 30c,however after climbing about halfway started to enjoy the cooler temp.Only saw 3 other bikes,and maybe only half a dozen cars.It’s so enjoyable without lots of car traffic.The scenery was fantastic.I must say I was relieved to eventually get to the summit on my 1999 LOOK .The descent was enjoyable,but I was really holding the handlebars firmly on the way down,as there are a few rough patches lower down the mountain as stated by other riders.
I found the advice on the the Climbing Cyclist website to be very helpful.Thanks!
I rode up Mt Donna Buang yesterday( New Years Day) and it was a bit busy (car wise) but they were all polite.
It was my 3rd ride in the last 12 months ( but I run etc).
I am training for Mt Buffalo in 4 weeks time.
I found the first bit fine(just constant) and after a bit of a break at the 9k turnoff, the next bit is lovely then the last 5 k is a bit long. The end is fantastic but low visibility on that day despite a sunny day (mid 20’s).
After feeling elated the descent was a downer. Fun but so cold. Hands freezing on brakes.
Luckily rang my hubby who picked me up half way down .
I only really needed the climb so that was good. Not sure if I will become a climber??Time taken from Milgrove was 2.48( so if I take 20 mins off not too bad)
Can’t recommend enough taking warm clothes for the descent. Was not expecting snow at the summit and got so cold on the way down that I couldn’t stop shaking and had to stop riding. Was assisted down by a very kind motorist. Don’t want to be that cold again.
Super ride up though. Will do it again over summer
Done! It was rather easy. I was worried reading the comments but its a rather easy climb. Now moving on to lake mountain.
Hi guys, rode the back road to Donna on Saturday on the cyclocross bike I bought for such an occasion. I had only ridden the dirt road once before about 3 years ago on a 30 year old steel framed mountain bike. Since that earlier ride you might say I started an affair with Donna and next weekend I will be heading up the main road to Donna for my 100th ride. I made a goal to achieve 50 climbs in 2015 and achieved this in November on the Vertical K organised event and ended the year on 53. If I can do 50 I thought to myself , I can do 60 by my 60th birthday this year. Unfortunately the Vertical K is not being held this year but I’m well on my way to my goal with 23 already achieved. I have also climbed Mt Buffalo, Mt Buller and Lake Mountain recently but I reckon the ride up Mt Donna Buang is the best by far. Onwards and upwards,
Started a new job in Monbulk, which peaked my interest in making the most of some of the climbs that would normally be too far away if I left from home. Having ridden a few of the famous NSW alpine climbs over Xmas, I thought that Mt Donna Buang wouldn’t be so far fetched. First time I rode it I was decidedly less fit and had spoken to a few people about it, agreeing that the first half is much harder. I thought I’ll try and get to the halfway point and see how I go. I struggled, but made it through the couple of hundred metres of 10-11% (well thats what my GPS said anyway) and got to the halfway mark. Feeling ok and not wanting to waste my effort getting to that point, I thought Id go on for a bit longer and try and break my PB of 12km of climbing. The next 4-5kms were simply magic at a much more reasonable gradient, perfect temperature (35 when I left Warburton, but low 20’s up on the climb) and I was in a good rhythm. Stopped at the 2nd look out at about 12.5kms having made my PB and was starting to fatigue a little and had nearly run out of water. I took a few photos of the great view and thought I would head back and try for the summit another time. Despite being a hot dry day rain from a few days previous was dripping onto a number of corners which made for a few hairy moments on an otherwise quick decent. I certainly agree with the other comment about the steep sections on the lower half having a rough surface and should be approached with care. Made it back to the car, with the motivation to come back after a few more weeks of training and give it another go.
After doing a few other smaller climbs in the area, I decided to come back and try again last week. I had been watching the forecast all day hoping for a break in the rain and when I got it I thought I’d go and give it another crack, despite it being 20 degrees. First 4-5kms before the first real pinch was a breeze, the steep pinches (particularly Cement Creek) were made slightly easier knowing that just up the road was halfway. I made it to halfway much quicker than my first effort and more importantly with more energy. I got a gel on board and comfortably made my way to where I had stopped at the 2nd lookout last time. With only 5km to the summit I thought I’m definitely going to get there. At this point it was starting to get cool and the fog/clouds were rolling in reducing visibility and the roads here hadn’t had a chance to dry from earlier in the day. The climb was still absolutely breathtaking and I got some excellent photos. Certainly agree that after the large carpark, the relatively easy climbing finished and it became a bit tougher, making me distance watch a bit too much. With the fog greatly reducing visibility it was hard to know what was to come other than how much distance I had left to climb. I passed the forked road and went past the smaller carparks and got lured into thinking the signs to the summit were actually the summit and then that last pinch. Definitely hurt, was starting to get quite cold and didn’t want to stop to get out my jacket until I reached the summit with only a few hundred metres to go. I had set myself a goal of 2hrs, not knowing what the 2nd half was going to be like and I made it in 1:41 so I was stoked. So it was a quick photo from the top where it was windy as well as cold and foggy – I reckon it was probably about 10deg or less up there. Then for the decent. The fog had not allowed the roads to dry so getting down was going to take some time. If you do nothing else when you ride here on a day where it might be cold up there, forget the fingerless gloves, get the full length ones. My jacket was keeping my chest more or less warm enough, but my hands and fingers were so cold I was struggling to grip the brakes, meaning I had to regularly stop to warm them with my breath before continuing on. Another thing which occurred on the way down is morons speeding and doing burnouts in the big carpark near the top. Yeah its a great climb as there are few cars on the road, but more of the people who go up there, do so to flog their cars. I almost got run over by a guy doing a burnout and speeding off. He narrowly missed me before almost hitting another oncoming car. Take it easy out there! After much slow breaking and descending, I finally made it back to my car. I’d made it! Now next challenge will be to get my time down under 1:30. Great ride, could not recommend it more highly.
Went up this morning and absolutely loved it even though it was bucketing down and visibilty was poor, I really wasn’t prepared for the descent and had no wind breaker or spray jacket. Good idea to take extra clothing as I was freezing my n*ts off and felt like hypothermia was setting in (not exaggerating) . I really should have taken the advice of the old war horse cyclist in the cafe before ascending who told me I’d be in trouble without any warm gear.
Will defintely be back again but next time it will be on a clear day.
Finally gave Mt DonnaB a go with our group last weekend, and my word… ‘BREATHTAKING’ is how I would sum up the ride!
We set off from Gembrook through the Kurth Kiln National Park instead, just to load up some K’s on our legs for the main event. I highly recommend this route – it is truly spectacular riding on the sweeping roads through the forest – my estimate it was about 40k’s of rolling hills, with each climb averaging around 8%… I also agree with taking Old Warburton Rd (past Yarra Junction), it’s very quiet but also definitely not for the faint hearted…
As with most comments here, the first half of the Donna climb is definitely tough. There is very little respite throughout the first 8km until the short flat section (200m at most) at Cement Crk. 2nd half is OK, still a lot of work (all 9kms of it) but the pinch at the last 200m to the lookout is just CRUEL. The descent from the summit was blisteringly fast with smooth flowing corners and virtually zero cars, but be careful after Cement Crk – the hairpins are quite technical and the road surface conditions are noticeably rougher.
I’m not a particularly strong climber, but I was pretty stoked to clock 1hr 27m on my first alpine climb (keeping it between 2-3w/kg all the way). Enduring the ride back to Gembrook from Warburton was the dreadful part, especially when the temp is in the high 20’s which IMO was tougher than tackling Mt DonnaB itself with fresh legs.
Great job with this website, I look forward to one day seeing ride footages for each review 😉
We rode up Donna Buang over Grand final weekend. I have to say, one of the toughest climbs for me personally, (previous was Myers creek road). As the description alludes….no letup until hairpin for second half and then only for 50 metres! Don’t believe the official road signs as the summit is further along…some painted DTF on the road, think that is more accurate. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water as the summit doesn’t have potable water for your refill….Will do it again when I’m fitter!
Hi David, about 3kms below the summit is a very popular natural spring (big carpark) – flows incredibly nice water.
First time up… tomorrow!
My lovely wife and I are training up for the 7 peaks this year. We’ve worked our way around the Dandenongs, a few weeks ago completing the 1 in 20, Inverness and The Wall in one ride. Coped pretty well with it. Been up Devils Elbows a few times, and we find that the toughest of the ascents (but still manage it OK).
So tomorrow we graduate to Donna, and then on to Lake Mountain with the Domestique in a few weeks time.
At this point, (with Julie very nervous…) I’m looking for any advice, encouragement, tips etc from you expert out there!
We plan to drive to maybe Millgrove and ride from there. (Need a bit more of a warm up than the 1 or 2 kms from Warburton, we think, but don’t really want to 15 or so from Launching Place).
I’m very excited and hope the rain stays away (Julie won’t ride in the rain… she’s so sweet, she’d probably melt!) so back up plan is Monday.
Thanks for any advice, and I’ll post a report when we’re done!
Hi Matt, just a note to give your followers a bit of encouragement on the Mt Donna Buang climb. I have ridden a bike all my life my but really only got enthusiastic when my younger brother handed me down a road bike with gears. I graduated from a fixed gear bike to a mountain bike several years ago (another bike recycled to me from my son) and got the bug. I mainly rode the Warburton trail on my mountain bike but riding one night alone near Kallara station a wombat and me met at the same location. I believe the wombat was unscathed but after a concussion and a badly broken collarbone I have taken to riding my rode bike more often . My first effort up Mt Donna Buang was tough. I only got as far as Cement Creek. A strong desire to get myself fitter resulting in me setting a target in 2015 to ride Donna 50 times. Currently I am ahead of my target at 38 rides. I must admit that it has been quite cold coming done throughout the Winter especially the days that it has been snowing. Being what I call an average rider at a time around 1 hr 30min I am hoping to reduce this time by 15 minutes so that I can compete against the runners in November in the Vertical K event. I turn 60 next year so I will raise my target to 60 times next year. I met another local rider last Saturday and he asked me if I get bored of the ride…no way was my reply because the environment always changes but the thrill doesn’t, especially coming down. I also rode the Ol Dirty this year on my road bike and have added a cyclocross bike to my Wishlist. Last year I rode Mt Hotham and Lake Mountain but Mt Donna Buang is my fav. See you on the Mountain.
Hi – can you tell me if it’s possible to ride Mt Donna Buang in September……as in this week ?
Yep, certainly is! Just take a jacket and possibly other warmer gear. Even if it’s warm in Warburton it’s likely to be quite cold at the top (and definitely will be on the descent!)
Thinking of doing this climb this weekend (Sunday Aug 2).
How is the weather on the climb this time of year?
Does it snow further up the mountain?
Yep, there’ll almost certainly be snow up there. Check the snow report to be sure but either way, pack warm clothes! The descent will be ridiculously cold.
Is there anywhere on the site that shows the ‘seasons’ for climbs? I am trying to map out some weekends to get to Bright, complete Donna, Lake Mountain etc and was just looking for a good rule of thumb for when I can start planning on accessing the climbs without freezing.
Hi Jocelyn, not really, sorry! As a general rule though it will be quite cold up in those mountains until October or November even. They’re well and truly rideable before then, but I’d certainly pack plenty of clothing for the descent. In fact, even in the middle of summer I tend to take a jacket if not full-finger gloves up Donna Buang etc.
All the climbs you want to ride all end above the snowline including Mt Donna Buang. So can be cold Autun, Winter and Spring. Noting alpine environment weather conditions can change at any time, so you need to be prepared for anything such as snow even in Summer!
Of all the climbs, the north facing ones should be a little warmer eg. Mt Buffalo . Mt Donna Buang is the opposite as it is South facing and in the tall trees the whole way, so tends to be a bit cooler even in Summer.
All can be ridden even in winter with the right clothing, but as the ski resorts manage the roads to the ski resorts during the ski season they may stop you at the entrance station.
I also did that climb for the first time last Saturday. In comparison with 1 in 20 and Devil’s thumb, i believe this is a REAL climb. 5%+ and 10k+ is my definition of a real climb. The biggest positive of this climb is the lack of traffic. I believe in the uphill, it was about 1 car every 4-5 minutes and on the downhill it was about 1 car every 10 minutes (from 12 pm to 2pm). The biggest negative is the long descend ( i don’t like descends), especially the wet parts. You need a very good pair of warm gloves, very good warm overshoes and a good jacket for the descend. Disc brakes will give you more confidence when braking.
To get to the climb i rode the Lilydale-Warburton rail trail. I was a little bit afraid for flats, but my 25mm rubino pro tyres performed very good on that rail trail. The good thing is that on the return trip to Lilydale, after the half point, there are 2 uphill sections of steady 2-3% incline and 2-3km in length where you can do some tempo workouts. Moreover there are some cafe’s along the way so you can stop and enjoy your coffee.
I climbed Donna yesterday for the first time, starting from Seville. It was pretty uneventful getting there but once on the climb I realised it was going to be more difficult than I had thought. It was wet on the roads and a bit chilly with no let up up at all in the gradient. Cement Creek is just a flat blip in the climb. I received some encouragement by another rider who blasted past me but other than that it was very quiet. Finally at the top it was around 1 degree and fully fogged in. Time to rug up and get going. The descent was not very enjoyable with my cold hands cramping from the continual braking on the wet, bark laden road. Once I got down to Warburton the temperature was a little more bearable but I was pretty tired and really wishing I had started at Launching Place. There’s a couple of big climbs to get back to Seville which were quite difficult, plus a lot of local work traffic on the main road. Having said all this, it was a great day. At 57 years old and around 90kgs I thought my first up time of 1hr 29mins was ok. Can only get faster.
Did my first climb up a ‘real’ mountain at Donna Buang. It was everything it was advertised to be – quiet, virtually traffic free, great scenery and tough enough to have you questioning your own sanity – especially during the steeper bit before Cement Creek when you have more than 50% still to travel. Should have read the description a bit more closely because the respite after the turn off is very welcome as is the consistent gradient for the following km’s. The only very minor disappointment was the lack of views through the trees of the surrounding countryside, if only to help distract you a bit more…. I did it by myself and would love to tackle it again with some else to share the suffering and offer a bit of distraction. In the meantime I can now check my stats on Strava and enjoy seeing that my largest climb is now in excess of 1000m!
Thanks for the info on this great site.
Did the climb yesterday, WOW what a beautiful ride! The first half as stated is definitely the hardest. After Cement Ck it’s relatively easy until the last km.
Even thought it was a warm day (27 deg) I followed the advice in the comments & took a vest & arm warmers for the descent. Very glad I did as it was quite fresh!
Heading back to Brisbane tomorrow, but can’t wait to come back to Vic & tackle some more of the climbs listed on this fab site 🙂
Took the day off work yesterday and a mate & I rode a stunning Dirty Donna.
We left Launching Place a bit before 8am, rolled into Warburton on the rail trail and got stuck into the climb rather than get any colder – it was about 4º
I dropped my mate in the first few hundred metres and then had the road to myself … on the climb I saw: 1 wallaby, 3 cars and 5 lyre birds, which brings the total I’ve seen in the wild to 6.
It was cold on the climb, although there was worse to come on the descent, and I wasn’t really in the sun until after Cement Creek, and then only for a little while. As ever the views across the valley were brilliant and having nobody riding with me & no traffic to contend with made the climb special.
My back started complaining around Cement Creek, but I found doing 1 minute out of every 5 out of the saddle relieved the pain, and probably got me to the top a fraction quicker than staying seated.
I had a nice rest sitting in the sun at the summit, then my mate arrived, we rugged up and descended the dirty side. F R E E Z I N G cold!
It’s the second time I’ve done this, the other was two years ago, and there was a dead wombat in about the same spot both times. I think we’ll climb this side and descend into Warburton next time.
The dirt was OK, but it’s not really what the blokes at Vittoria designed 23mm Open Corsa CX tubulars for, so we took it a little slower than I would have liked, although the speed increased as soon as we got back on the tarmac.
Nice stop in Healsville for a coffee and something to eat then back to Launching Place. The only negative all day were a couple of bogans driving along the road back to Launching Place who didn’t like seeing bikes on the road and tooted us from far too close behind. Really sorry I slowed them down for 6 or 7 seconds. Doesn’t matter, I was having a better day than they were!
75Km round trip, and about 1,500m of climb.
How was your Friday?
this was my first attempt at any sort of mountain climb, the first thing I did wrong was got sucked in by the great weather at warburton, so didn’t really wear any cold weather gear, when I got half way up I realised this was a mistake, I think the good thing about this climb, was the lack of cars, I did it mid week and only seen maybe four cars the whole way up, 3/4 of the way up the fog set in, and it was very cold and windy, but I made it to the top without stopping, which im very proud of, and I thought my time was ok for a first timer (1.19.46) until I read some strava times up there, scary,
but on the way down was the worst part of my ride, I wore fingerless gloves and I paid the price for it on the descent, my fingers got so cold I couldn’t pull the lever in at all, so I just cruised down for safety, but the road was very wet and slippery, so I figured it wasn’t worth the risk to try and hammer down, but I loved this ride, and hope to do it again before it gets too cold
Hi, I climbed Donna (or “The DON” as I refer to it) last Friday, May 9. It was my first real go at a mountain as such. My first, and probably only impression is that it simply takes no prisoners. It’s not very forgiving at all and be well prepared for a constant grind. I have been riding now for just under a year and I’ve tackled the ‘nongs fairly regularly and I usually tie on a big ride each weekend (100+ km) as well as commuting 60km per day to work and back. It was tough. Perhaps the fact that I was a week coming off an illness and also experiencing a little ITB trouble was the determining factor but the serenity as well as the scenery is incredible. I also had the joy of filling my bidon with pure spring water supplied by The DON herself.
It’s incredibly cold up top and although you dont tend to feel it much on the way up, you sure as heck will on the way down. Rug up, be very careful of the debris and the water on the road. It could be your undoing and that would be a shame because it would spoil a glorious day out. Be sure to stop in at the pub at Launching Place on the way back. A well deserved beverage!
My time was 1 hr 45 mins. I stopped a few times because of the knee but just don’t let yourself cool down too much.
Overall: a great challenge and well worth it once its over.
Rode up Donna Buang from Launching Place last Sunday morning (April 27th) and whilst the Sun was bright and clear in Warburton, by the time I got to the summit it was foggy and cold. Lucky I had worn full finger gloves as the wind chill on the descent made it extra tough to get good leverage on the brakes.
Its a great climb and I love the feeling of getting to the top knowing the effort it took to get there but post Summer, recommend you wear winter gloves etc as the descent can be very cold.
+1. I’m frequently surprised by how cold it can get up there, even if it’s nice and warm in the valley. Warm gloves are a must, as are shoe covers I reckon. I won’t ride up there in winter without a scarf or something else to cover my face. The cold wind as you descend the mountain can be beyond painful.
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Snowing quite heavily today according to the reports – so I’d be extra cautious riding up the mountain in the next few days.
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!
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….. 😉
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.
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.
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…
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!
Are there few cyclist on the way just in case if there is any emergency
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
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.
Thanks and are there many cyclist on weekend. Also is it safe.
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.
is anyone doing mount Dona bua this weekend and is it much harder than Kinglake
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 😉
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
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.
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.
Nice work Simon! 😀
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.
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…:)
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?
Great pick-up Tooraj, thanks! All fixed now.
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!!!
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
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.
Great stuff Graeme. 🙂
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
WTF. Yep, it’s true. http://app.strava.com/activities/26393978
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.
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.
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.
Oh thanks Jon! Much appreciated. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the ride – Donna’s one of my favourite climbs, for sure.
thanks for that Matt the trip is now back on
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.
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!
Wow, 10 Donnas in a day !!!!
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.
Pleasure Richard. Best of luck with Donna! She’s lovely once you get to know her. 😉
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.
Great stuff Nick. That back road to Donna is simply stunning!
You want snow?
Both photos from last Winter
Thinking of doing this exact loop. I’m trying to get some info on the dirt decent from Donna towards Panton Gap. Manageable on a Road Bike?
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
This website rocks – I am looking forward to doing Mt Donna Buang tomorrow (Friday 20 April) – welcome anyone to join me…
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.
Great comments Anthony. Thanks very much. 🙂
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.
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.
Well done Karl, congrats!
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 🙂
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.
Have written up *MY* ride to Donna Buang – fairly tough going – for my first ‘proper’ hill climb – but great achievement (for me).
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 🙂
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…:)
Great write-up – thanks ! Riding this route tomorrow (Melb.Cup.Day) – will let you know how I go. 🙂
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
Hi Miguel, thanks for stopping by — glad you like the site! Best of luck with Donna and the Gran Fondo.
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
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! 😉
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 !!
No worries Justin. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂
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 🙂
No worries Paul. Glad you enjoyed the climb and that you found the site useful! 🙂
Just wondering how does donna buang compare to doing the (gisborne) then (woodend) side of mount macedon ????
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
Hi Peter. No problem at all, glad you like the site. 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
Couldn’t agree more Chris. Terrific climb and a most satisfying way to spend a morning. Have fun!
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.
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. 🙂
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
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.
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?)
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. 🙂
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.
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!
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?!