Euan Pennington is an outdoor guide and writer based in Melbourne with a penchant for unusual bikes and adventurous biking expeditions. Mt. Donna Buang is located in Victoria’s Yarra Valley and stands at 1245m, overlooking the town of Warburton. Here Euan tells us about his day trip up Donna Buang.


To some the idea of being a cycling journo sounds marvellous, and it can be. Swooping about the hinterland willy-nilly on high end hardware that is not your own is certainly a fine thing, but sitting at home uninspired about an article that is not exciting you can lead to frustration, contemplation on the subject of starving to death without payment for services, and crucial internet surfing. It’s not dissimilar to those who can’t study for an exam until all the cupboard-based condiments are arranged alphabetically.

A recent cold snap down here in Victoria coincided with an incipient lack of inspiration on my part, and the resulting interweb perusal revealed that it had snowed down to 900 meters and Mt. Donna Buang, a short drive from my place, was blanketed(ish).

In all fairness I’ve always questioned the “Mt” in Mt Donna Buang, but I guess “Tree Clad Hill Donna Buang” is not a moniker that easily rolls off the tongue, no matter how accurate it might be.

Either way, this was not a usual scenario, it didn’t often happen, so if it was to be explored time was of the essence. In addition, if I didn’t go I would only sit at home uninspired wondering what would have happened if I’d gone, and besides, there might be an article in the experience…

1

Mt. Donna Buang sits an hour or so from Melbourne, and as facilities go it has a car park, and a toilet. When it snows people flock to this readily accessible winter wonderland, and with that comes all the predictable parking / bogging / sliding shenanigans, so I decided to throw some gear and my bike in the vehicle, park below the snowline and ride up to the top, descending on some of the walking trails that network the area. The joy of these less developed areas is that with no grooming or trail fees, the powers that be have not yet banned fat bikes from trail access. Marvellous!

View? Not really.

View? Not really.

The mountains, even hills, demand respect.

The mountains, even hills, demand respect.

The road was an atmospheric ride

5

Riding up from bare dirt to snow conditions is always fun, watching the environmental transformation, and the cloud and mist kept things atmospheric. Eventually the road ran out, and a snow covered trail led to the summit, this time attained without the need to resort to artificial oxygen.

From here the only place to go was down, and as always the further one went from the car park, the less people there were to intrude upon the experience, not that people are necessarily a bad thing. Everyone I met was friendly and positive, happy to be enjoying an unexpected environmental windfall. Well, snowfall.

Less people also meant less foot based grooming, so the tracks became increasingly “interesting” to ride, although catching it early did mean the snow was still firm and rideable.

The track gave way to a vehicle track, and before long I was on the rocky road to the straight and narrow, finally arriving at a gate on the main road that took me back to my vehicle.

The trail became less compact as the distance from the car park increased…

The trail became less compact as the distance from the car park increased…

Tree ferns do it hard in winter…

Tree ferns do it hard in winter…

Only slightly illegal…

Only slightly illegal…

The track became less well defined…

The track became less well defined…

So was it a good day? Good enough to fuel up on fruitcake and do another lap. I’m sure there’s some deep thoughts to draw out of this, but really, if you get the opportunity do cool stuff, just do. You’d be mad not to. Now put down the computer and go ride your bike.

 


Check out these other biking adventures…

Bike and Hike to Splendour Rock (NSW)

Fat Biking the Main Range, Snowy Mountains

Murphy’s Glen Mountain Biking

Vaga-biking // 8 Overnight Bicycle Adventures Near Sydney

Mountain Biking Canberra (The Stromlo Effect)