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Mt Donna Buang Hike

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Day Trips | Free | Outdoor | Walks
by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published July 2nd 2017
A challenging hike with a rewarding view
The challenging hike up Mt Donna Buang is one of those hikes that you must tick off your to-do list, if you haven't done so already! It's one of my favourite spots to run and hike all year round. And there's even the added bonus of the trail starting only a stones through away (around 1km) from some of Warburton's best cafes... which is where you'll most likely find me after slogging it out!

Looking back toward Mt Little Joe near the start of the walk

Warburton is an easy 70km drive from Melbourne's CBD, making it a perfect location for a day hike.

View from the top of the 21m viewing tower on Mt Donna Buang

My family and I have enjoyed many rides along the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail, had plenty of fun building igloos and tobogganing on Mt Donna Buang when it's been covered in snow, discovered the beautiful La La Falls walking trail, fed the ducks on the Yarra, visited the cafes and all these amazing places. But the one thing that stands out above all, is a hike/run up Mt Donna Buang.

There is something very special about this beautiful part of the world that makes we want to keep coming back. I think it's the challenge of climbing the mountain and the natural beauty of the area that I just can't get enough of.

The hike up Mt Donna Buang is known as a 'hero hike' in the bushwalking community. It's a hike that sees a lot of people in training for running events and overseas adventures because of the elevation and proximity to the city.

The hike itself according to my Garmin was 14.39km return starting from the top of Martyr Rd. The elevation gained was 1,083 m and it took me 2 hours 14 minutes to complete (I jogged in sections). If you are walking and want to stop at the top for photos/recovery time before descending then I would say to allow anywhere between 4 - 7 hours. I know this sounds like a lot of time, but keep in mind that the average time recommended from various hiking blogs is around 6 hours.

On the trail

Where the trail starts

The walk starts at the corner of Martyr and Wellington Rd and is marked with a single sign stating the trail and estimated duration. There is no marked car park as such, but there is room to park on the side of the road next to the golf course. Some of you may be tempted to park in the centre of Warburton and then walk the 1km to the start. But be warned that the walk from town to the start of the walking trail will be one of the steepest sections!

Don't let the 12km return sign fool you at the start. I've done this hike many times and I've never recorded the distance as being less than 14km in total. The sign, however, says to allow 7 hours, and that's not to be dismissed.

The trailhead starts near residential land and drops down into a small fern gully before ascending along a fence line adjacent to open private land. At this point, you feel like you could be trespassing but keep following the trail, making sure you look back now and again to take in the stunning view across the field to Mount Little Joe. At around 800m into the trail, you cross the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail and follow the well-worn trail up Mt Donna Buang.

The first 4km are the steepest, so rest assured that it does get easier the higher you go. Roughly half way up Mt Donna Buang you will come out on Mt Donna Buang Rd. You cross the road and continue up the fire trail (well signposted). From this point, the walk is much easier but the trail towards the top can be overgrown (it's still visible and easy to follow but my calves always get torn up by the dead ferns and dry undergrowth).

Where the trail crosses the road about half way up

At the top of Mount Donna Buang, you will find a 21m viewing platform (open over the drier months), toilets, BBQ's, a large shelter with wood heater, picnic tables, information boards and a car park.

Viewing tower

The trail can be particularly slippery in the wetter months with lots of mud.
I recommend you cover yourself in Bushman insect repellent to guard yourself against leeches before you start, and thoroughly check yourself over before you leave.
Going downhill can be harder than going up... I tripped myself over on a few occasions with long bits of bark.
Take water and some snacks.
Remember it's cold at the top, so a light jacket or long-sleeved top will come in handy.
Allow plenty of time to complete the walk.
Take a camera/phone.... You will want photos of the stunning scenery.

O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

Afterwards I usually head to the Cog Bike Cafe at the end of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail in Warburton. The staff are friendly, accommodating and always happy to make me a toasted cheese and vegemite Turkish bread roll....The perfect way to finish a great day in my opinion!

Vegemite and cheese Turkish bread

Yarra River, Warburton

Main St of Warburton

For more great hikes in the area have a look at Mt St Leonard, La La Falls and this list of Melbourne's best bushwalks.
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Why? A challenging day hike
When: All year round
Where: Starts at the corner of Martyr and Wellington Rd, Warburton
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Hi Lorraine, I wish I had read your article a few months ago when we wanted to go for a hike/ run up to the top. We tried the trail above where the spring is but that turned out to be disused and impenetrable. We just ended up hiking up the road. Our fault for not doing research before hand.
Do you organise hikes & runs or know of others who do? You seem to know your way around...would be good to tag along with you otherwise.
Cheers, Manen
by manen (score: 1|20) 1449 days ago
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