Everything you need to know to conquer the hills of the Victorian Alps.
Most of the 7 Peaks climbs have a friend nearby. Lake Mountain has Baw Baw, Hotham has Dinner Plain, but Mt Buller stands alone out beyond the western edge of the Alpine National Park. Out alone, the alpine mound has had to fend for itself and has done so by crafting a brilliant piece of flowing art up to its summit so it can be accessed by all during winter or summer. This piece of art is wide with a gentle gradient and little yellow lines that let you know what part of the world you’re ascending to.
The Mt Buller climb is alone but well worth the trip out past the country town of Mansfield to the top of the world just a short climb away. The cycling pedigree of Mt Buller is well renowned, with mountain biking trails aplenty and the ‘Bike Buller’ slogan exemplifying the mountain’s desire to be a cycling destination. One could argue it’s already achieved that status, with all kinds of riders hitting the slopes over the summer months in search of the next epic adventure.
The good times of the Mt Buller climb begin just past the Mirimbah ticket office. The Mirimbah Park on the shores of the Delatite River is a great place from which to start your ride or you could head out from Mansfield and get a longer warm-up before the climbing starts.
The warm-up is needed as the ascent starts in earnest right out of the gate. However, it’s not a gut-busting gradient, which is a key reason why the Mt Buller climb is such a favourite amongst riders. Leading affairs is the first 6.3km, which averages 6.3%. The sweeping road takes you above and away from the Delatite River - though it can still be glimpsed down below through gaps in the roadside bushland.
There are well-signed distance markers along the way that let you know what altitude you’re at and how many kilometres are to go. This is a small but greatly appreciated feature of the climb and is an awesome carrot to chase as you tick off the distance remaining. There are multiple easy sections that include false flats on the way up that let you either pick up some speed or take it easy and recover before the next ‘steep’ section. The first comes after the initial 6.3km with a short 1km section of only 3% around a left-hand hairpin.
Some of the hairpins on the way up feature alpine waterfalls and the easier gradients around the bends mean you can take the time to have a look. Waterfalls and epic views of the Australian bushland aren’t the only things to look at - keep an eye out for the ‘gnome house’ around the 3km mark. A few of the gnome residents can be seen adventuring along the climb’s route, though they’re very well hidden amongst the foliage.
The toughest part of the climb comes at the end, just past one of the most scenic sections. Three-quarters of the way up is a series of switchbacks that give riders a view back down the road that they just climbed and maybe a view of their mates they just dropped! Then you’re into a 1.8km section that averages 8% thrown in to remind you that you’re on an alpine ascent. This section is over quickly, though, and suddenly you’re at the village under the clock tower with time to bask over the ranges and appreciate the challenge you just conquered.
When you should ride Mt Buller
Mt Buller hosts several events on its slopes during summer such as the Targa car rally. So, make sure the road is open when you want to ascend, though aside from this the rest of the summer is a great time to enjoy the ride.
Where to stay
You can stay at Mansfield or up on the slopes of Mt Buller.
Where to eat
Mansfield offers the most dining options with a pre-climb breakfast at The Produce Store, a great fuel-up stop with a nice range of fresh food options. If you have a support vehicle, grabbing a takeaway lunch from The Coffee Merchant can feed you up at the top before your descent down.
Starting point – Mirimbah Park, Mt Buller Tourist Rd, Mirimbah
Finishing point – The clock tower at Mt Buller Village, off Mt Buller Tourist Rd
Distance – 15.3km
Height gained – 921m
Average gradient – 6%
KOM – Matt Clark 39:24
QOM – Lisa B 49:43
Paper Passport Stamping Station
Alpine Central. Weekdays 8:30am – 5pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am – 4pm
Pacing – With an even gradient over its 15km length, a steady pacing strategy is best - although make sure you keep enough in the tank to tackle the final 1.8km steep section.
Food – There are plenty of food options either at the Mirimbah store down at the base or up at the Mt Buller village on the summit.