If you’re up to it, it is very satisfying to climb the mountain right from the bottom. This walk is a bit of a ‘Hero Hike’ for people training for long trips. The 1,100 metre ascent is long and steep, the only steeper walk nearby is the track up Mt Juliet. While it is all on reasonable tracks, the walk is rated medium-hard. Fit people should be able to do the 7 km climb in 4 hours, while the downhill return by almost the same route will take about 2½ hours
Initially the walk drops down through forest to a creek before heading north along a fence line next to a paddock. At the top of the paddock, the track turns east for ashort distance before heading into forest for a minute to meet a disused aqueduct. Cross the aqueduct and keep climbing. The track unrelentingly heads straight up the mountain, mostly through Mountain Ash forest. 4 km from the end of Martyr Road, cross the sealed Donna Buang Road and continue up a gravel road to a phone tower. At the end of road continue along a well defined walking track. After 500 metres you will get to the rather flat top of Mt Victoria and the climbing ends! The next 2 km are gently undulating. At a junction, ignore the track heading south to 10 Mile and head north west towards the final 500 m climb to the summit. If you have the energy, it is worthwhile to climb the 21 metre observation tower.
If you haven’t arranged a lift down, have a rest and either go back the way you came, diverting via 10 mile and a short walk on the sealed road. If you want to have a long, epic day, take the Cement Creek track down to the road junction and walk down the Acheron Way towards Warburton for just over 3 km to where it crosses the aqueduct. Leave the road and head west along the aqueduct walking track until you come to the well signposted track back to the top of Martyr Road. Retrace the first 500 metres of the days walk downhill to where you left your car.
From Melbourne drive along the Warburton Highway, B380, to Warburton. As you enter the town, turn left on to a bridge which crosses the Yarra River. Immediately turn right along Dammans Road and take the first turn to the left onto Martyr Road. Drive to the top of this very steep road next to the golf course and park at the corner where the road turns right and becomes Wellington Road.
Mt Donna Buang (1250 metres) is the nearest snowfield to Melbourne. The tall ash forests on it’s slopes were harvested at the turn of the 20th century and the timber was moved by a network of tramlines and cable haulages. The industry took off in 1901 with the completion of the railway to Warburton.. Before the Second World War, Doona was also a minor ski resort with cleared runs, a huge ski jump and four ski lodges. In 1935 12,000 watched ski races on Donna. However the snow was never terribly reliable and after the war, two of the lodges that survived the 1939 fires were moved to the more dependable snowfield at Mt Buller, while the ruins of another can be seen at the foot of an old ski run.
Today most of the mountain is parkland. It is a accessed by a sealed road and is a popular tourist destination. In winter it attracts families to play in the snow. There is a 21 metre high lookout tower on the summit accessed by a strange double helix staircase. From the top there are impressive views of the mountains and forests, as well as the farmlands and towns of the Yarra Valley.
While you can drive to the top, there are a number of walking tracks up the mountain. One is a long day hike from Dom Dom Saddle, another begins at the aptly named Martyr Road in Warburton while a third starts half way up, near the Cement Creek Rainforest Gallery. There is also an easier option of a scenic walk near the summit.
Summary provided by: David Sisson | www.australianmountains.com/donnabuang/#10
Max elevation: 1252 m
Min elevation: 205 m
Total climbing: 1129 m
Total descent: -1129 m