Mount Donna Buang
Winter in Melbourne is typically raining, overcast and downright blah!
But this past winter brought us sunshine, and lots of it, especially on the weekends, which was great! We were able to get outdoors, rugged up mind you, but eagerly tackling those chilly mornings with afternoon basques in the sun!
We arose up early and headed to a lookout in the Yarra Ranges National Park, on the Donna Buang Summit Road that leads to – you guessed it – Mt Donna Buang Summit. We were met with an unbelievable sunrise! Fog sat peacefully over the mountain ranges while the sky showed off multiple colours stretching as far as the eye could see and the sounds of lyrebirds echoed throughout the valley. This morning bought wonder to all the senses, and it was only the beginning of the day. We were in for a treat!
Being winter, there had been sightings of snow on Donna Buang amongst other locations around the valley. There is something about seeing snow even as an adult. It brings a sense of excitement and wonder – like being a kid again.
Once the sun had come up from behind the mountain ranges, we decided to start to head up to the Summit. Unfortunately, there was only a little snow as the last couple of days has been pleasant sunny days, but the patches of white that scattered the mountainside on that early morning still made for some pretty dramatic photos.
It was around 7.30 am on the summit and we weren’t the only ones on the mountain. There were multiple people greeting the sunrise and walking up the tower. If you do want to soak in the scenery, we would recommend getting up to the Summit early as the car park fills up quite fast.
There are multiple activities on offer at Mount Donna Buang: You can climb the tower to admire the views, hike a couple of trails and of course there is a toboggan run on offer. The toboggan run was dry but there are plenty of benches if you do just want to drive up to the summit and enjoy a cup of tea and snack!
The 21-metre lookout tower takes around 5 minutes to walk up to the top. The views feature panoramic views over Melbourne, the Yarra Valley, Dandenong and Cathedral Ranges, Mount Baw Baw and the Alps. I felt disappointed as the tower itself has high railings that made it difficult to look out and enjoy the view at its best. But safety first!
Around the tower, there are a couple of walks which we couldn’t access due to winter conditions that made the trails muddy and hard to access. Maybe next time!
Mt Victoria Hike
One of the popular trails on offer at Mount Donna Buang is the Mt Victoria hike. This hike is graded as Difficult. We started at the Summit carpark, this walk started with a steady downhill that leads you into a rainforest environment. There are trees covered in moss which makes for a great photo opportunity. You are surrounded by very tall trees which makes you feel really small. It had a Hobbiton-like feel about it. As we hiked along we were met with mud, more mud and ferns! About halfway through the hike I felt like I was training for Kokoda. The mud sank down each step you took and meanwhile you had to continue while trying to clear ferns and broken branches out of the way. The track became quite overgrown and made it feel like we had definitely chosen the path less travelled. These conditions did not stop us though from enjoying the scenery. Did I mention I love ferns? So I was loving life.
We could tell we were near a view when the path began to clear and open up, we were excited to see what the view would showcase to us. After walking around for another 15 minutes, we began to question if we missed the turnoff for the view as the trail just continued downhill.
We were then met with a satellite station and a clearing. It had a small developed track which didn’t look out to much, we stood and admired for a second and continued on. We are guessing that was the view. If you’re looking for a view on your hike, this probably wouldn’t be the hike for you.
This track brings you back to the Summit Road which leads up to the 10-mile picnic area. Just before the picnic area, the signs lead you to a shortcut back to the Summit carpark. Be prepared this is a 1.2 km trip back, but it’s all uphill! Until now, the trail was a moderate rating.
This was a great walk for people wanting to get outdoors for some exercise while enjoying the sunrise. You could easily finish it in a couple of hours and then go out for brunch!
After going on our hike, we stopped at the Rainforest Gallery on the way back down the mountain.
We had both never been here before, I can’t believe I hadn’t, as it was insanely awesome and free!
As you come to the entrance, you are greeted with an observation lookout to the left and to the right is the walkway down into the gallery.
The observation platform is 40 metres long and is easily accessible for all. You are surrounded by Mountain Ash trees that are around 65 metres tall, yet again you feel really small! With a variety of trees, ferns and other plants, some being up to 400 years old you feel fully emerged into the environment.
It made me feel like a child again, I felt like I needed some binoculars and an explorer hat to be ready for an adventure into the unknown!
As you walk down the staircase, you are provided with multiple opportunities to view different lookouts. The sounds of nature echo around you as the trees sway and creak, and the stream flows in the background.
This is a fantastic family activity as Parks Victoria has provided plenty of fact boards and sayings along the boardwalk to entertain all ages.
Next stop: The Redwoods!
East Warburton Redwoods Forest
With a quick afternoon snack from the Warburton bakery and a quick stroll by the Warburton River, we headed off to the Redwood Forest. Over the last couple of years, the Redwoods in Warburton has become more and more popular but still surprises me when many of my friends still haven’t visited them when they live so close to the forest!
The Redwoods is located a few kilometres from town and the turn off is Cement Creek Road. It is easy to miss on the left, so keep an eye out for it!
You will come to a narrow bridge that can become quite congested, especially on the weekend, so put your patience hat on, you will need it, and the Redwoods have limited parking, so we highly suggest going on a weekday or getting there early. The entry is surrounded by residential properties with many houses staging signs saying no parking on private parking!
Because this place is so new to being open to the public, they are still close access entries, I’m guessing due to conservation with the crowds, but also dogs are not permitted into the forest!
With over 1476 Californian Redwood trees ranging from 20 metres tall to the tallest being a whopping 55 metres, it is easy to get lost in the woods! Apparently, the Redwood trees here could be the tallest and most interesting Sequoia sempervirens in Victoria!
Steve and I love to come here for picnics often. There is a clearing next to the forest where you can lay down a picnic rug and admire the trees while enjoying some afternoon tea! This time around we brought our trusty Jetboil and boiled up some tea to have with our goodies from the Warburton Bakery.
When you step into the Redwoods, there is a tangible silence that is noticeable when you’re standing in the woods. Multiple families and groups were walking through at the same time yet you don’t tend to hear much noise. Everyone talks in hushed tones, like there is something magical about the space and if you speak too loud, it will break the illusion.
As the sun was setting, it was an excellent opportunity to grab some photos. We had a bit of fun setting up some shots and enjoying being surrounded by the Giants! The Redwood Forest have been planted in perfect rows which is quite satisfying and perfect for photography, and you’ll often bump into budding photographers or professional shooters in the woods, so as mentioned before, if you want to avoid all this and experience the place in quiet solitude, it is best to get there early. But really, crowds or no crowds, you can never have a bad day at the Warburton Redwoods!