Walk Warburton - the closest vertical kilometre training walk to Melbourne
|Trail||Donna Buang Walking Track|
|Type||One way / Out and Back|
|Grade (if available)||Moderate to Difficult; Grade 4 according to Australian Walking Track Grading System|
|Start||Warburton Main St|
|Finish||Mt Donna Buang Viewing Tower / Summit|
|Distance||9km (one way) / 18km (out and back)|
|Ascent||1170 m (one way)|
|Descent||70 m (one way)|
|Max Elevation||1265 m|
|Features||The best hill climb close to Melbourne, steep single track, lush tree fern forests, gigantic mountain ash and myrtle beech, Mt Donna Buang Summit and viewing platform|
|Facilities||Toilets: Warburton township, Donna Buang Summit, 10 Mile Picnic Area (accessible en route), Rainforest Gallery (car access on return, Donna Buang Rd), Car parking: Warburton township, Donna Buang Summit, 10 Mile Picnic Area|
|Notes||Best completed in summer and shoulder seasons; muddy, slippery, potentially snowbound and difficult going in winter; car shuttle required if walking one way|
Whether you’re training for a seriously steep overseas trek a la Kokoda or Kilimanjaro or just want to complete the best mountain climb close to Melbourne, the Mount Donna Buang Walking Track is for you.
Donna Buang boasts enough natural beauty in its own right to guarantee it is a bushwalking gem that can be done at a leisurely pace. However, shooting up 1170-vertical metres in 9km, the Track comes into its own as a hill training venue.
Located only an hour (80km) from Melbourne’s CBD, the sheer slopes of the mountain deliver an ascent profile that gets lungs bursting and thighs burning, making it prime training ground, especially for hikers heading to Kokoda in Papua New Guinea or to overseas mountain summits. Indeed, Donna Buang’s jungle-like environment make it the perfect Kokoda preparation.
Those tackling its length rise up through towering mountain ash and ancient myrtle beech trees, pushing on into a dense rainforest jungle populated by gigantic tree ferns. The trail reaches Mount Victoria before nearing Donna’s summit (1245m), the prior saddle featuring a mystic atmosphere, especially when the mist rolls in, as it often does.
The finale is stepping up the viewing tower, a 21m rise that on a clear day delivers views across the Upper Yarra Valley.
- You can begin the Donna Buang Walking Track from anywhere in Warburton, but we recommend a hearty coffee or tea and sustenance from one of the many Main St cafes before departing. From the Main St, drop down the alley opposite the police station and turn left at the river to head west towards Story Reserve.
- This will get you to the iconic and very photogenic Swing Bridge located beside the tennis courts and cross it.
- On the other side of the river turn left, walking along the Yarra River walk until you meet the intersection of Martyr Rd with Dammans Rd, a bitumen road you can’t miss – it’s the one rising sharply up the mountain side, from Dammans Rd. Known as one of the steepest suburban streets in the Southern Hemisphere (it has cousins in Tasmania and New Zealand), Martyr Rd is a favourite challenge for hill climbing cyclists with its 62m vertical ascent in only 300m giving a 19% gradient.
- Push on to the very top of Martyr Road. Where it turns sharply right there is a small single track entrance signposted Donna Buang Walking Track.
- The trail drops down a small gully before rising up alongside a fenced paddock. Nearing the top be sure to look back for magnificent views across the Warburton township.
- The trail turns right along the top of the paddock before intersecting the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail (which itself forms part of an excellent ride/run/walk route).
- Cross over O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail and continue up the signposted trail.
- The trail leads you through the stunning mountain ash bushland for 3.5km (from the Aqueduct Trail) before intersecting the sealed Donna Buang Rd.
- Look across the road and you will see a signpost “Summit 3.7kms” and a management vehicle track (gated) that will lead you for 600m up to Mt Victoria and its communications towers.
- At the communications tower, continue along the only walking trail, heading initially in a north easterly direction and then north westerly to the Mt Donna Buang summit, the route undulating over 3.1kms through spectacular forest that towers above a carpet of low ferns.
- After 2.5kms you will come across a signposted junction, the trail to the left heading approximately 500m down to 10 Mile Picnic Area and car park (facilities available). Continue straight on for a further 600m (passing some ruins on the left) before arriving at the Mt Donna Buang summit car park, with its toilets and picnic facilities. It is well worth making the effort to climb the final 21m of stairs to catch a view (pending clouds!) from the top of the viewing tower.
ALTERNATIVE: For an easier, shorter walk that does not require a car shuffle, drive to the summit car park. Walk back along the trail towards Mt Victoria, eventually popping out on Mount Donna Buang Rd. Walk roadside uphill for approximately 1km until you reach the 10 Mile Picnic Area. Pick up the linking trail at the rear of the car park taking you back on to the main Donna Buang Walking Track you came down on. Walk back to the summit. Approximately 6km.
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