Footsteps from the past: a centenary publication 1894 - 1994. Initially it was planned for Australia’s first ski troops to fight the Vichy French in the Syrian Campaign of the Second World War. Needless to say, tourism was not a field within most foresters range of expertise. However I have a long list of printed, photographic, online and video resources as well as useful contacts for anyone who may be thinking of doing some work on the subject. 1947 was another late but heavy season on the mountain. . This appears to have been a good location as the slope still holds good snow and it incorporated a cleared fire break which would have reduced the cost of building it. The State Development Committee. The third lookout tower dating from 1963. Despite occasional visits by aborigines, prospectors and early settlers, the mountain was rarely visited before the 20th century as it was steep, wet, cold and lacking in mineral or grazing potential. Walks on Mt Donna Buang     - Ten Mile Turntable, summit circuit and Mt Victoria     - Donna Buang via Cement Creek, rainforest and Mt Victoria     - Warburton to Donna Buang via Mt Victoria, 11. Park here and spend 15 minutes inspecting the impressive Rainforest Gallery, a 350 metre walking circuit that starts high in the forest canopy before descending to the forest floor. Four of these stations were operating last summer, and all seven will be … Background. In the latter part of the 1940s, the club ran bus trips to the hut and allowed groups of Rover Scouts to hire it. Best of all it is virtually traffic free. When the authorities confronted the problem of the illegal squatter village at Mt Buller and opened up lots for development, it was not a difficult decision for the club to move their under used cabin on Donna Buang to the new subdivision at Buller. If you are heading downhill, Parks Victoria have conveniently placed a prominent 'Track closed' sign where the Cement Creek track diverges from the Mt Boobyalla track, making the junction easy to identify. Grade: Medium to Hard grade, suitable for a reasonably fit group. There are a few diversions where trees have fallen over the track, but it essentially continues in a fairly straight line parallel to the creek. By 1950 ski visitor numbers were in steep decline, the University Ski Club had transported their lodge to Mt Buller and the end looked near. Light Railway Research Society of Australia, 2001. Accessible by car, bicycle or foot, Mt Donna Buang features pristine rain forest with plenty of tree ferns. From there the journey was on foot to the top of Donna, a climb of 3000 ft (915 m). We all know it affectionately by that name. Of course in winter there was also the shuttle up to Mt Donna Buang. Mountain memories: sixty years of skiing. In 1945 RAAF personnel were seconded to the Forests Commission for fire watching. Built in 1930, the Melbourne Walking Club hut was the first of four buildings built by ski and outdoor clubs on the mountain. Then drive up the Donna Buang Road, C 505, for 6 km to the 10 Mile picnic area and park. A lot of machinery, cables and steel tram tracks were left behind when harvesting finished in that area, so it's likely that the Scout Hut originally housed timber workers and the Rover Scouts simply moved in a decade after the logging company moved out. The Ski Club of Victoria still exists and it has a lodge at Mt Buller, but it long ago abandoned any delusions that other clubs should pay homage to it. The resorts further from Melbourne did not suffer from the sightseers and 'snowballers' who spilled onto the ski runs at Donna and more importantly, they had a longer and more reliable ski season. 'Nancy' on the summit observation tower, 27 July 1929. Mick Hull's photo of the 1934 slope clearing work party. 388katharinew wrote a review Mar 2020. But skiers were a hardy lot in those days. Park here and spend 15 minutes inspecting the impressive Rainforest Gallery, a 350 metre walking circuit that starts high in the forest canopy before descending to the forest floor. It was the first of six ski runs on the mountain. In 1934 members of the SCV and USC went to Donna Buang to clear and widen the two ski runs and the jumping slope, at the top of the mountain by the lookout tower. However I can cite most sources for any researchers who may be interested.  Ten Mile Turntable, summit circuit and Mt Victoria. It also took time and scarce resources to convert factories that had made bombers and guns to make consumer goods like cars and washing machines. While steep, it was the quickest route to the summit area if the road above 6 Mile was closed by snow. They also reported that the newly built ski run was far too narrow to be safe. Mount Donna Buang name. In those states, ski clubs seemed to be able to co-operate to further the interests of all skiers. If you wish to extend the walk by an hour to Mt Victoria, stay on the track along the ridge top, The route undulates through attractive mixed species forest to Mt Victoria, (which is barely a knoll), before descending to a television transmission tower. Finally, I should thank my history teachers, tutors and lecturers from when I was at school and university. Downstream, part of the creek’s flow was diverted into an aqueduct which flowed into a dam above a hydro electric power plant that supplied Adventist owned businesses in Warburton such as Signs publishing and Sanitarium foods. Longer distance travel was usually by train and the railheads nearest to the snowfields, such as Bright, Mansfield and Erica, were distant from Melbourne and on slow branch lines. There were one or two places selling refreshments on the mountain in the 1930s. Ski runs were cleared of fallen timber, the old wooden jump was rebuilt in stone and the Main Run was extended. The first summit lookout tower was probably built in 1918. The problem was slightly eased when the Main Run was widened in March 1934 and a new track for pedestrians was cut parallel to it. Lake Mountain is 4800 ft.--that is, 720 ft. higher than Donna Buang, and over 400 ft. higher than the Mt. Item MM 6704 Negative - Mount Donna Buang, Victoria, circa 1930 Description of Content. Closest snow to Melbourne. The hut was in reasonable proximity to Donna Buang and may have been used by Rovers skiing on the mountain. Skiers at the base of the Main Run at Donna Buang. Trips were run to any snowfield that clients wanted to get to and there are stories from the time of Louder's frequently overloaded cars getting bogged in some of the most remote locations in the mountains. Also in 1911 the naturalist Reginald Kelly noted there was no 'D' sound in the local language and stated that Thuonna-be-wong (meaning 'the place of mist') was the most likely aboriginal name for the Ben Cairn - Donna Buang Ridge. But the prospect of prosperity was on the horizon. There we found a band of members from both clubs already on the job hauling logs to one side of the ski run. The shelter hut at the 10 Mile Turntable was demolished on 16 May 2016. In 1932 a ski jump was built at Donna Buang by members of the University Ski Club. The Knob engine house and the haulage leading up to The Pimple. Scene after the cabin was moved to Buller. Initially cut in the summer of 1924 - 1925, over the years it was widened and lengthened, with summer grooming removing rocks and tree stumps. Try and spot some local wildlife, although there is ample birdlife all around. The Main Run. Other things I’m looking for include a contemporary ski map of the mountain and a post 1951 photo of the ski jump rebuilt in stone.  Cement Creek, rainforest and Mt Victoria. 10 Mile Turntable to Summit. . Annual publication of the Melbourne Walking Club.Walk 1949 - 1955. Most visitors drove to the mountain themselves or took the train to Warburton. But some Australians did take up jumping; Tom Fisher and Derrick Stogdale actively promoted the activity on Donna Buang to members of the Ski Club of Victoria in the late 1930s. The middle section of the track is still easy to follow and in fairly good condition. Despite the obvious decline in Donna Buang’s popularity amongst skiers, some remained optimistic about its future and in the summer of 1951 - 1952 Mick Smith organised a group of locals to extend the jump run, including linking it to the Main Run by a route curving through the trees. Meanwhile at Mt Buller, a small village of illegal shanties and caravans hidden in the scrub had sprung up after the 80 bed Buller Chalet burnt down in 1942. So the road continued to carry plenty of traffic, especially in winter. A very poor snow season in 1949 and a below average one in 1950 accelerated the transfer of skiers loyalties to higher mountains further from Melbourne. Thus a number of ski lodges were built in the area around Mt Hotham in the mid to late 1940s, often using second hand material and supplies that were obtained under the false pretence that they would be used for housing to get around rationing of building supplies. Donna Buang was only 60 miles (96 km) by road from Melbourne, via Warburton and a winding road to the summit. A picture of the Donna Buang road in the early 1930s shows the unsurfaced road and a narrow bridge. There are a few 20 cm logs at waist height across the track at the start of the walk, but only a few beyond the creek crossing. The University Ski Club cabin was removed last year from Donna and re-erected at Mt. The logging contractors, T. J. Currie and Co, claimed this set them back a huge £9,000 through loss of timber and additional earthworks necessary for their tramway to cross the road. There was also pick and shovel work preparing the ski slope for the sowing of grass, so skiing was possible with a minimum of cover. Australian War Memorial. Ten Mile Turntable. The track north of the summit. Mt Donna Buang overlooks the town of Warburton in the Yarra Valley. Regular work parties were held to maintain the hut, including during the Second World War when severe petrol rationing and the restricted availability of building materials made things especially difficult. With all the cleared space occupied by cars there would be only one place for them to overflow and that would be on the ski runs... and the road would be completely lost to skiing... a snow plough would be necessary to keep it open and heavy maintenance charges would be involved. Later the worn out crusher jaws were salvaged by the University Ski Club and used as a backing for the fireplace of their new cabin. At a junction, ignore the track heading south to 10 Mile car park and head north west for the final 600 metre climb to the summit. The Cement Creek walking track starts 250 metres along the Donna Buang road. It is near the picturesque town of Warburton. 1930 - 1934.Australian (and New Zealand) Ski Yearbook, 1935 - 1952.The Melbourne Walker 1929 - 1955. Built in January 1945 by members of the Ski Club of Victoria to provide a short cut from their lodge to just above the base of the major ski runs. Skiing     - Ski runs     - Crowding     - Volunteer work parties     - Other activities: racing and military training     - A film of skiing on Donna Buang in the 1920s     - Administration and ski politics     - The ski jump4. On a clear day there are endless forested mountains in most directions, while to the west, Melbourne's office towers are often visible. (Grey.) How all those people crammed into the relatively small area between 10 Mile and the summit is hard to imagine. After the line was dismantled in the 1970s, the route of the Warburton railway lay unused until it was converted to a gravel path between 1996 and 1998. How long the line remained in service is unknown, but it may have been consumed in the 1939 fires as after the Second World War 'fire-spotters' reported by radio. While 1944, was a fairly poor season at the higher resorts to the north, Mt Donna Buang (and Mt Baw Baw to the east) had skiable snow for three months. © D.S. The area where the old track meets the Main Run has been heavily bulldozed (probably in the 1970s), making the track very difficult to find at the top, so if you wish to retrace it, heading uphill from 10 Mile is the better option. A newspaper report with information provided by the club states that there was 'difficulty in completing the hut' despite there being almost no snow in June 1934. While it's designed to be as phone and tablet friendly as possible, some of the illustrations may not line up correctly, so it's best read on a computer. Later it became evident that Donna Buang was more than a just a minor scenic destination and the Forests Commission found themselves in control of a proper tourist resort. Used with permission of MWC. An improved road to the winch, with an area to park a number of cars, should make a big difference. A well written local history.Sheridan, Lynette. Roads were fairly basic and even some major highways were still surfaced with gravel. There just wasn't the space for thousands of people to enjoy themselves in the treeless and cleared areas of this relatively small mountain and the crowding was hardly conducive to an enjoyable ski trip with a group of friends. In the 1932 - 1933 summer, a 'shelter shed' was built at the base of the Main Run by the Warburton Ski Club. . The road beyond the car park at the 10 Mile Turntable was closed in winter and skiers accessed the slopes by a direct track from 10 Mile to the base of the Main Run (which is now overgrown). At the top we came out into a wide grassy lane between the trees, the firebreak leading up past the huts of SCV and USC to the crest of the mountain. All tracks were in good condition. Grade: Easy - Medium. While this made the summit area more accessible, the new road obliterated the big stone ski jump which was bulldozed out of the way. Sierra Publishing, 2012. From the authors collection, photographer unknown. At around this time, the hamlet of Narbeth or Narberth, just to the north of Donna Buang, (named in 1861 after the Welsh home town of the first publican), had the suffix 'ong' added to its name to make it sound more aboriginal. From there they traveled down three steep haulages to Robinson’s No. The track unrelentingly heads straight up the mountain, mostly through mountain ash forest. So in 1933 a committee of management was established to facilitate communication between city bureaucrats, local Forests Commission officials (based nearby at Powelltown), the tourist industry in the area and representatives of skiers. The unsealed road from Healesville to Donna Buang (C 505) was built as a bridle track in 1922 and upgraded to a road in 1926. In the 1960s and 1970s it featured a kiosk, since demolished and there was probably a kiosk there in the 1930s as well.. Today the Ten Mile Turntable is the start of a walking track to the summit, which can be found behind some posts, a few metres down the road from the car park. The steeper middle section of the track along a former cable hauled tramway remains in relatively good condition, the track is fairly easy to follow and there are only a few logs across the track. It cost a whopping £2,740. Buller. In the 30s it had several ski features each winter. Acquisition Information. From 1925 to at least 1929, Pioneer Tours ran day trips to the snow at Donna Buang. Apparently there was no interest from the ski community so they considered selling the cabin to the Forests Commission, as the cabin had been hired as accommodation for fire watchers in summer. An E-Train at Flinders Street Station. The 'Swing Door' (also known as 'Dog Box' ) electric cars at the front towed the country carriages to the suburban terminus at Lilydale, where a steam engine took over for the second half of the journey. (Known as the Ski Slide in the 1920s.). In the 1930s skiing had not quite split into separate downhill and cross country disciplines, so while the main focus on the mountain was downhill skiing, cross country was also popular in the less steep areas. Those sightseers who had never seen snow before, let alone ski-ing, were delighted at the sight of over thirty skiers gliding about over the ski run. Ski Horizon12. © D.S. While most early ski resorts are now large commercial operations, the seven clubs with lodges at Mt Mawson near Hobart still hold volunteer work parties every summer and run their 'club field' in a way that would be familiar to skiers at Donna Buang in the 1930s. An attempt to revive passenger traffic was made in early 1958 with the introduction of more comfortable 40 seat Walker railcars, but this did little to reduce the decline in passenger numbers. The decline of the mountain as a ski destination in the early 1950s did not substantially change the number of people who simply came to play in the snow. Get to the lookout, and the tower is quite imposing. Wander through snowgum forest and wildflower meadows or enjoy a scenic picnic in spring and summer. In the 1970s an earlier shelter hut was replaced with a large but bleak structure without doors. (Originally Victorian Alpine Ski Club.) Whatever its provenance, the hut was utilised by early skiers. The summit is one area of the mountain where basic amenities have been maintained. In 1933, Romuld jumped 18.3 metres. They were overwhelmed with further applications and in the 1948 - 49 summer, the Forests Commission opened up a formal subdivision on the mountain. But as the appeal of other resorts increased, skiers gradually abandoned the mountain to sightseers. It is possible that mid 1970s bulldozing operations for tourism related ‘improvements’ in the area destroyed the site of the hut, although there are inferences that this was one of three huts on the mountain that were reported to have been burnt in the Black Friday fires of January 1939. Hundreds of kilometres of light tram lines were built into every valley in the areas around Warburton and Powelltown to transport logs to dozens of sawmills and to then move the sawn timber to railway stations such as Yarra Junction and Warburton. However despite good facilities and promotion, mostly by migrants from Europe, jumping never really ‘took off’ in a big way with Australian born skiers. In 1942 it became the (British) IX Army Ski School, then the Middle East Ski School in 1942-1943 when it was expanded to cover all aspects of mountain warfare, including both skiing and rock climbing before its closure in 1944. Just north of the lookout tower on the summit, the walking track to Boobyalla Saddle heads north down a partly overgrown ski run. © David Sisson. The Melbourne Walking Club had enjoyed their experience with skiing and as Donna declined as a ski destination, they built another ski lodge at Mt Buller which lasted from 1951 to 1990, before it was replaced. Then it was time to go back to the hut for a beer and a quiet yarn before preparing dinner. A site 1 km from the summit was selected in April 1930 and a permissive occupancy lease was obtained. While a few bus operators elsewhere in Victoria (notably Reginald Ansett) managed to run services on the edge of the law by exploiting legal loopholes, these acts largely eliminated bus competition with the railways in the years before the Second World War. In 1948 and 1949, they were especially low. In 1936 the Malvern Rovers moved in and restored the mill hut that was in best condition using material from nearby derelict buildings. Books, 1990. The Yarra Junction station has become a busy museum operated by the Upper Yarra Valley Historical Society while the rusting remains of the Warburton railway turntable are at the former La La railway goods yards, about a kilometre east of the site of Warburton station. Romuld worked as an engineer on the Kiewa hydro electric scheme and lived in a cottage on the Bogong High Plains all year round. Warburton ways. It can be combined with the walking track heading north east from the summit (shown in purple) to make a short circuit walk. . So people looking for fresh, nearly pure water would be better off sourcing it lower down the mountain where Cement Creek crosses the Donna Buang Road near the Six Mile Turntable. My interest in the subject was first aroused by Fred Elliot who gave me his copy of the 1934 SCV Yearbook when Simon Walliss and I interviewed him about his pioneering first landing on Rodondo Island in 1947, his first ascent of Tasmania's Federation Peak in 1949 and his time in Antarctica in the 1950s. The best an Australian could manage was 15 metres jumped by George Hulme in 1935. This ski run is still followed by the current walking track to Boobyalla Saddle. Gazetteer: a directory of Donna Buang names and locations8. and U.S.C. The 1934 year book of one ski club features 22 advertisements from Warburton businesses. Keep an eye out for the markers nailed to trees on this section. An unofficial club history. . Picnic facilities are … . Medium - Hard. Rigby, 1979. However with the entry of Japan into the war, the 6th, 7th and 9th divisions were gradually reassigned to tropical areas, so their ski training was never utilised. More formally, the 380 hectare Mt Donna Buang Alpine Reserve was gazetted in the 1970s and it was incorporated into Yarra Ranges National Park which was created in 1995. On arrival at Warburton, most train travellers bound for the snow paid 3 shillings return for an eight seat ‘service car’ to take them as far up Donna Buang as possible. In 1935 a 3½ x 2½ metre entrance porch was constructed with material salvaged from derelict logging huts nearby. When we consider that this mount is less than sixty miles from the city, it is hard to realise that about 70% of the population of Melbourne have never seen snow. The track is now overgrown, but benching into the hillside makes the route identifiable and it can be followed up from the western side of the car park without too much difficulty, although scrub and fallen logs make it a slow walk. Ms Shaw, an … . However they were required to build quickly or they risked losing their prime site. Soon you will reach a junction with a track to the right heading south to Ten Mile picnic area. After the surrounding timber had been harvested, the mill was abandoned in 1934. The December 1949 issue of Ski Horizon magazine reported that the U.S.C. If you're up to it, it's very satisfying to climb the mountain right from the bottom. In 1983 a tower was built on the slopes of Mt Victoria, it broadcasts television signals from all five free to air networks to the upper Yarra area. After the mountain became a popular with skiers and other visitors, the narrow road received far more traffic than it was ever designed for and despite maintenance and improvements, wear and tear often made the road rough. First published June 2015, expanded and updated to 2020. While you can drive to the top, there are a number of walking tracks up the mountain. (Brown.) At times the heavy traffic was managed by only allowing uphill traffic in the morning and downhill traffic in the afternoon. Fortunately for the skiers, most people simply came to visit the snow rather than to ski. The Argus, 20 June 1932. The University Ski Club cabin fireplace in action. Note: I’ve been corresponding with a couple of people about the 1st Australian Corps Ski School and it would make an excellent subject for a book, article or YouTube video. Buildings and accommodation     - Accommodation in Warburton     - Club cabins         - Melbourne Walking Club          - University Ski Club         - Ski Club of Victoria         - Rover Scouts     - The summit hut     - Other buildings of the 1930s     - More recent infrastructure6. Images & Image Making, Transport. Photo USC website. Today most walkers from the 10 Mile Turntable to the summit follow the original route north up Parbury’s tramway to the ridge between Donna Buang and Mt Victoria before turning west to the summit. 1950. Visitors to the Ten Mile Turntable outside the snow season will often see people filling large water bottles from a pipe on the western side of the car park. The photo shows an abandoned kiosk just south of the summit that was standing in the early 1960s. The northern section between the Six Mile Turntable at Cement Creek and Narbethong was opened in January 1929. It is not overgrown and can be followed using the composite map between chapters 2 and 3. The top section of this haulage is still used today as the walking track heading north from 10 Mile, but it originally lowered timber all the way to a sawmill at Millgrove railway station on the Yarra River. While one of these lodges was rebuilt before the outbreak of the Second World War, the loss of the large Buller Chalet to fire in 1942 compounded the shortage of ski accommodation. The road immediately begins a steady climb which continues for 7 km to the Cement Creek junction. The work was paid for with a £200 grant from the Public Works Department. A largely pictorial book with enough text to explain the railways in context.Brennan, Niall. C 505. © David Sisson 2015, revised 2018, 2020. Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. At other resorts, later development filled in the gaps between the original dispersed buildings, (at Mt Hotham the first four lodges were also 3 km apart), but there was no later development at Donna Buang. The summit boasts an impressive 21 metre high lookout tower and the view from the top is spectacular. Aerial photo of Donna Buang in 1944. While the club cabin that burned was rebuilt, the fires probably took other infrastructure on the mountain such as the shelter huts at the summit and at the base of the Main Run, as well as the ski hire building. Cross the aqueduct and keep climbing. Road to summit at Cement Creek, with 'snow cover good' reported on sign. The old road to the summit beyond the junction with the Ben Cairn road was narrow, unsealed and featured a number of sharp bends. Starting in 1926, just a year after skiers first ventured onto Donna, it doesn't feature overly stylish skiing. The nearer ranges offer an opportunity for exploration to the more adventurous Club members. However some energetic (or thrifty) skiers chose the steep walking track starting at Martyr Road that is still used today. The view from the tower is breathtaking. At the same time the club was building a lodge on Hotham which was ready for the 1949 season. March 6, 1930: "Just before 1 o.clock we came out on the summit of Mt. Background. Even if skiers could get a booking at the Buffalo Chalet or the rebuilt Hotham Heights, restrictions on civilian rail travel meant it was difficult for them to get there. The University Ski Club was granted a permissive occupancy lease on the mountain for £1 per year in April 1934. Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks. It appears that local hoons were the main suspects although there were some suspicions that environmentalists wishing to remove the 'taint' of civilisation from the mountain may have also been responsible. It is in the scrub, 150 metres north of the ruin of SCV Cabin near the walking track from 10 Mile to the summit. In any case woollybutt is not the most durable timber when exposed to the elements and it deteriorates fairly quickly. . Instead, in early 1950, the Donna Buang cabin was disassembled, with sections being moved by horse sled down to the 10 Mile Turntable and then moved by ‘low loader’ to the new subdivision at Mt Buller, where the flat pack was reassembled to provide an instant lodge, enabling the U.S.C. Another attempt to deal with the problem was to build a toboggan run to give the snow players somewhere away from the ski runs to try out their mostly rented equipment. No end to walking: 100 years of walking by the Melbourne Walking Club. 4 hrs, 6½ return. It is a neat coincidence that 1951 was also probably the last year when Donna Buang attracted just enough skiers to be called a ski resort. At the summit there are public toilets & a viewing platform to. Above the fire was a solid iron frame for pots and pans, with various concoctions, stews, spaghetti, vegetables and white onions. The Ski Club of Victoria organised car pooling for members of their club in the early 1930s, charging 11 shillings for a return trip from Melbourne. This article was begun in late 2010 and first published on line in June 2015. They took up skiing in 1931 when they visited Donna Buang and they first skied the Bogong High Plains near todays town of Falls Creek in 1932. After the war, the hut was renovated and fees were reduced to 2/6 for a weekend and 5 shillings for a week. Many club members were also involved in the pioneering days of recreational skiing, so it is not surprising that in 1929 Bill Waters and Chris Bailey persuaded the club to build a hut on Donna Buang. In one of the first instances of the SCV "not playing well with other children", the club appears to have resented that others were involved in deciding where the new run should be and it began a campaign to depict the new run as both a waste of money and subject to such strong sun that snow that fell on it would quickly melt. It continued to be used for pedestrian access to the mountain long after the tramway closed in 1934. We of the Ski Club of Victoria, who know of the possibilities of this resort, should continue to agitate for its development. The industry took off in 1901 with the completion of the railway to Warburton.. The government owned railways dealt with competition from privately run buses by running bus services of their own, but also through lobbying to restrict the operation of competitors. The idea was strongly opposed by A. D. Mackenzie, chief engineer of the Public Works Department who had supervised the rebuilding of the road two years earlier. Eventually the route emerges from the creek valley and the track becomes more obvious as it begins to climb the hillside on the north side of the creek. Probably very sturdy, but not for those with a fear of heights Good parking and public amenities are there. Many who had been several times to Buffalo declared that they had never seen such conditions so good there, or such a beautiful snow scene as the snow-laden trees on the Donna Buang Road. I'm especially interested in reminiscences from people who visited Donna in its heyday and in photos and information on minor buildings that are not well documented. Large stone rubble south of the summit shelter hut. While these new amenities improved the visitor experience in the 1970s, little has been been built on the mountain since, apart from a discreetly hidden automatic weather station. Later there is a short interlude at Mt Hotham featuring Helmut Kofler, which dates that part as 1928, as Kofler only spent one year at Hotham before moving to Mt Buller where he was the manager of the Chalet on that mountain until his death a decade later. The internal fittings were at the club's expense. The hut was built by club members with an opening ceremony in December 1930. Photo by Andre Belterman In the Forest Commission's Annual Report 1926-1927 it states: "During the year, the following additional fire lookout stations were established: Creswick, Mt. But at least one club remained optimistic about Donna Buang's future. Most of us lacked cars and we would leave by train from the city after noon on a Saturday for the two hour trip to Warburton. Mount Donna Buang is a mountain located in Warburton Victoria with a moderate trek, a fresh-water spring mid-way at the carpark and an observation tower at the top of the trek. In addition six relatively comfortable commercial ski ‘chalets’ had been built: The Buffalo Chalet (1911), Rundell’s Alpine Lodge at Flour Bag Plain (an old mining hotel near Dinner Plain reopened in 1921), Hotham Heights (1925), the Feathertop Bungalow (1925), St Bernard Hospice (renovated and reopened 1925) and the Mt Buller Chalet (1929). One of the most scenic walking tracks in the area climbs up the valley of Cement Creek from the Donna Buang Road up to Boobyalla Saddle and Mt Donna Buang, it was used as an alternate access to the mountain when the road was closed by snow at the Six Mile Turntable. In winter we will ascend as far as the snow allows (Subject to weather in July and August for your safety). 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. * Warburton locals maintained first aid posts at the Ten Mile Turntable and the summit. Please send any comments, corrections, suggestions or pictures to: australianmountains (at) gmail.com. climb with the reward of 360 degree views. The fire break to the south west that ran north east and roughly parallel to the top 800 metres of the original winding summit road. Work parties were run on a number of Sundays with stumps being blasted and logs cut to provide a good clear extension to the run. To improve access from the summit area to the toboggan runs, stairs were built down the middle of the former Main Run. Mount Donna Buang is a mountain in the southern reaches of the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range, located in the Australian state of Victoria. Background2. It offers a perfectly Mt Donna Buang offers panoramic views, snow play and tobogganing in winter and the Rainforest Gallery part way up the mountain with its spectacular skywalk aerial walkway through the tree tops. . On Sunday 21 August, 620 cars visited and there were 2000 people in the summit area. Despite the popularity of skiing, there were only two ski lifts in Australia by the end of the 1930s, neither of them at Donna, so skiers on the mountain had to walk back up the side of a ski run and ‘earn their turns’, much like backcountry skiers today. (Pink.) Until 1922 Robinson’s tramway carried logs from as far as Mt Donna Buang along the ridge connecting the two mountains to a location on the south eastern slopes of Mt Victoria called The Pimple. The USC and their hut are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. . One of the prettiest creeks in the area, it was named for the suitability of gravel in its bed for making cement. Originally built as a firebreak, it was widened and groomed to become a ski run in 1936. With skiing on the mountain becoming increasingly popular, it was only a matter of time before locals became interested and the Warburton Ski Club was founded in 1931. Mt Donna Buang summit (1,245m) is located in the Yarra Valley, overlooking Warburton in Victoria. Below: A view of the rear showing the chimney. But by that time, keen skiers had already moved to higher mountains to the north and east, so there were not many left at Donna to benefit from the new work and the jump was hardly used after the 1952 ski season. I certainly have seen deeper snow on Donna Buang--in fact, on one occasion, so much as six feet. When it became apparent that producing it in book form would be too expensive and that instead, it would be published on a website, I realised that footnoting would be inappropriate. The probable locations of six ski runs in 1938 are shown in green. After passing two or there corners we heard distant voices and came up to the Turntable where cars were parked and day-trippers were sipping tea and munching sandwiches. The cost of all this work was £45/16/6, the State Development Committee contributed £25, the remainder being covered by the SCV. The final section to the summit beyond the junction with the Ben Cairn Road was rebuilt along an entirely new route. The unsealed, single lane, Donna Buang road. As well relieving the crush, they also provided a greater variety of slopes for skiers, who in the early 1930s had been restricted to only a couple of properly built runs. W. F. "Bill" Waters: a biography. © David Sisson 2009 - 2015. Walking tracks. The first huts on the mountain were built for timber workers in the early twentieth century. © 2019. (Purple.) Local interest in the mountain grew beyond promotion of tourism and the Warburton Ski Club was formed in late 1931, making it the eighth ski club in Victoria. Eric Douglas and family taking a break July 1935. was built in 1911 and abandoned when the new road was built in the mid 1970s. Pages 34 - 36. By 1955 very few people were skiing on the mountain so it is unlikely the sign across the middle of a ski run caused much disruption. Except for the moderately graded run along the fire break parallel to the summit road, all these runs were relatively short. Treats the SCV in isolation from other skiers & clubsMcCarthy, Mike. A few letters appeared in newspapers and magazines debating the issue, including if Donna Buang really was it's Wurundjeri aboriginal name. A number were moved to become tourist and fire spotting towers on high points with extensive views including one at Mt Tarrengower in the town of Maldon and another on One Tree Hill near Bendigo. It led up a gully toward a ridge above, and then along the firebreak. The Monday-holiday weekend in early March has long been one for mountain workparties. A metal walkway at the Six Mile Turntable road junction. (Green.) To alleviate overcrowding, the Committee of Management approved the construction of a new ski run on the north east slopes, some distance from the existing runs which were to the east and south of the summit. It thrived in the early twentieth century and Donna Buang became an increasingly popular destination for walks by the club in the 1920s. With a shorter stride we ‘dropped into second gear’ for the steeper going. Eventually, in 1955, the heavily outnumbered SCV was persuaded to back down from its demands that other clubs pay an affiliation fee if they wanted input into the club claiming to be the administrative body of skiing in Victoria. The abandoned Kiosk in the summit area of Donna Buang in 1963. The 'Black Friday' wildfires of January 1939 were the worst ever experienced in Victoria. . It took a lot of time to get to the snowfields at Mt Buffalo and the new 'chalets' at Mt Hotham, Mt Feathertop, Mt St Bernard, Flour Bag Plain and, from 1929, Mt Buller, so they were really only suitable for skiers planning extended trips of at least a week. Year book 1930. Donna often had over a metre of snow, but with a maximum elevation of just 1,250 metres, the snow cover wasn't reliable. After the Second World War, car ownership increased rapidly and with the road sealed as far as Warburton, fewer people took the train. The legislation defined a 'motor omnibus' as a vehicle able to carry at least six passengers, so the railways did not have a complete monopoly on public transport to Warburton and a few service cars continued to run from Melbourne, however the fares were expensive. By the 1930s many skiers had access to a car and would drive up the mountain to the snowline before walking to the ski runs or, if they were staying overnight, to one of the cabins on the mountain. The University Ski Club was one of the successful applicants for a site on Mt Buller, but they were overstretched by the cost of their Hotham lodge and restricted by post war shortages of building materials. Winter. The road was closed in winter and in reasonable snow conditions it could be skied for 3 km, all the way down to the 10 Mile Turntable car park. While a kiosk operated at 10 Mile, it appears the 'modern cafe' was never built at the summit, although on busy winter weekends in most years, there has been a caravan selling snacks. Most of the vehicles were large semi-luxury cars but one business had 14 and 24 seat REO buses in addition to their cars. It turns out that there was an easier road, but I am really glad we drove over Donna Buang. It is located where Parbury’s cable hauled timber tramway crossed the road until 1928. The Rovers are an organisation for older scouts, in the 1930s and 40s membership was open to males aged 17 to 23. Interior furnishings were mostly donated. Others took a railways bus which ran at times of high demand when no train was scheduled. The Woollybutts in the background were killed in the 1926 bush fires. The mountain was popular, clubs had built accommodation on the mountain and new ski runs were cut through the forest of woollybutt and myrtle beech. Turn left and head up the road for a short distance before taking an earth road that branches off to the right. C 507. Australian skiing: the first 100 years. Then head uphill on the track for few metres to where the scrub is a little less dense. GREEN on the map. Facebook. Photo in 1953. The tower was built in 1983, although it appears the the road is older and a walking club history refers to a tower on Mt Victoria in 1958. A slope just to the north of the Main Run. Mr Cashmore said his mother spent Thursday out walking with her two grandkids and had an early dinner at about 5pm. 's 1934 Year Book. Thanks also to the late Fred Derham for giving me a copy of the University Ski Club history and to the late Don McDonald for allowing me to photocopy his ski magazines and annuals from the 1940s and 50s. Both routes are scenic & rewarding. 2016 update: In 2009 Parks Victoria officially closed the section of this walk that parallels Cement Creek without explanation. In 1926 a major bushfire burnt much of the mountain and while it is not known if the tower was damaged by the fire. The information on Donna Buang in the 1934 yearbook was so interesting that when I realised that no history of Donna existed, I began to research the history of the mountain. It was very much an exploratory trip with the group working out the best route up the mountain, the best method of carrying skis on a pack horse and assessing the best places to ski. The Donna Buang - Ben Cairn Road, with its grand forest and gully scenery, its wonderful panoramas, and, in Winter, its magnificent snow scenes, is one of the most beautiful trips in the state, and is undoubtedly the show trip of Melbourne. Alternatively it could have been a hut that remained from timber harvesting operations. #, Ski Club of East Gippsland, 1926. What You Need To Know. It descends steeply to cross the Acheron Way at the Rainforest Gallery (opened in the summer of 2004 - 2005). Guesthouses have largely disappeared today, but in the first half of the 20th century they were the most popular type of holiday accommodation. The club magazine reported that in November 1944 a 15 person work party traveled by train to Warburton and were permitted to hire a bus up the mountain. The only negative was that at 1250 metres, Donna was not high enough to guarantee reliable snow cover through the ski season, although in good years the snow was excellent; 15 consecutive weeks in 1929 and 17 consecutive ‘skiable weekends’ in 1943. Last season, reaching the snow on Donna Buang was not an easy matter altogether, the transport facilities being hopelessly inadequate to cope with the number visiting the mount. A well illustrated and better than average shire history.Cross, Wendy. © David Sisson. Mt Donna Buang Lookout Tower Rising to a height of 1245 metres, to Sealover’s Lookout. From the observation tower, walk 100 metres east towards the toilet block. Photo Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader. . Helpful. This dispute deserves an article of it's own, but it's sufficient to say that there were no serious inter club tensions in New South Wales or Tasmania. It appears that this service was also provided during the the peak years of the mountain's popularity in the 1930s and that it probably operated from its own buildings. Drive through Warburton until the highway, B 380, crosses the Yarra River. Monthly Victorian ski magazines: Schuss 1935 - 1955. Later they hired cheap accommodation in town including taking a bargain lease for a few years on a run down four room house for a shilling a week. Photos and comments on the line that opened up the district and made visits to Donna Buang practical. It was covered in blackberries. On one day in 1935 12,000 people watched ski races on the mountain. The snow arrived late that year, so building could continue into early winter and up to 11 carpenters at a time were working on the site. Donna Buang (4,080 feet) is not used very much now by skiers although the S.C.V. The cost was 'under £1,000', mostly paid for by the Tourist Resorts Committee with contributions of £125 from the Forests Commission, £100 from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (which managed the city's water supply at the time), £25 from Marysville Tourist Association and £25 from the Warburton Progress Association. . . By the late 1920s Donna Buang was becoming increasingly popular as a weekend ski destination and in 1929 the mountain had 'continuous snow for almost four months'. 1. Date uncertain, possibly associated with the 1970s improvements or a cafe that operated in the 1960s. CSIR, the first club lodge built at Mt Buller after the war was smaller and more basic than some cabins at Donna, but it was the first of hundreds of ski clubs to build on that mountain in the decades that followed. At its base a short walking track through beech forest connects it with Road Two. However, the snow cover was erratic and after the Second World War better transport meant it lost out to resorts with more reliable snow further from Melbourne. It appears to have been on a timber harvesting tramline that served Robinson's No. The same view in winter. The walking track mostly followed the route of a cable hauled timber tramway that was abandoned in the mid 1920s after logs suitable for sawmilling were cut out. In the 1932 season there was skiable snow on 56 days including 12 Sundays. However she went on to lead a full and rewarding life, marrying and having two children. Extract from the map Broadbent's Central Victoria, 1934. Rising to a height of 1,245 metres, it is the closest snow field to Melbourne. It is located about eighty kilometres from the Melbourne CBD and it overlooks the town of Warburton. Most of the walk is moderately graded except for an overgrown section near Boobyalla Saddle and two short but fairly steep sections later in the walk. Photo Warrand Begg. However the French were defeated before the courses began, but it was decided to go ahead with the training anyway as trained mountain troops had the potential to be useful throughout Europe. The snow can be quite soft and deep, so if it has snowed before your walk, it might be useful if a few people in the group have snowshoes to help pack down the track. Mt Donna Buang sign approaching summit . From the top there are impressive views of mountains and forests, as well as the farmland and towns of the Yarra Valley. To the west, timber harvesting lasted a little longer and the notoriously steep Jacobs Ladder incline on Currie's tramway from Millgrove was a popular access route for members of the Melbourne Walking Club. Walla Walla Press, 2012. Most passenger trains on the Warburton line were 'E-Trains'; a type of country train service for branch lines that didn't run too far beyond the electrified suburban network. By 1940 the Main Run was unrecognisable after 15 years of widening and lengthening. In these years visitor numbers to Donna Buang surged and it looked like the mountain might regain its pre-war popularity with skiers. It is a 350 metre long metal walkway that traverses the cool temperate rainforest below the platform. It is three kilometres from the summit by road or 1 km to the south east as the raven flies. Retrace the first 500 metres of the day's walk downhill to where you left your car. The photo gives an idea of ski fashions of the time. (Yellow.) So it attracted former civil servants and soldiers with colonial experience and a knowledge of south-east Asian languages. The Argus stated that it 'had been obtained very cheaply'. However it could be easily restored with a couple of hours work with a whipper-snipper. Modest facilities on the mountain. There is no spring, the water has no taste, negligible mineral content and the pipe and ditch are simply one of the heads of Ythan Creek that was diverted underground when the car park was enlarged in the summer of 1932 - 1933. Mount Donna Buang 'Spring'. Ski Horizon. If you are lucky, or early, you should spot a lyrebird. Old records tell us that Derrick Stogdale donated a cup for "The Novice Turning Championship of Mt. Donna is a fair way south of most of today's ski resorts, meaning snow coverage extends to a slightly lower altitude, but while snow regularly falls at 700 metres, at that altitude it generally melts in less than a week or is washed away by rain. The 'Swing Door' (also known as 'Dog Box' ) electric cars at the front towed the country carriages at the back to the suburban terminus at Lilydale, where a steam engine took over for the second half of the journey. 1949 map of Mt. The idea of adopting abandoned logging huts was taken up by other Rover 'crews' and soon 20 abandoned huts in the upper Yarra area had been allocated to different crews to look after. Upstairs, the attic had another 10 beds. The SCV Cabin on Mt Donna Buang from the walking track which still passes the ruin today. If you haven't arranged a lift down, have a rest and go back the way you came. Donna Buang. The chimney of its neighbour, the USC Cabin, is in the scrub 150 metres to the north at the same altitude. At the bottom of the ski run, the track continues through a forest of myrtle beech before intersecting with a well maintained gravel road. There was always more to do, digging out stumps, removing protruding rocks, winching old logs to one side for burning later. When the war finished, after a brief revival, skier's attention rapidly moved to other resorts, initially Hotham and Buller but a few years later Falls Creek and Baw Baw as well. A mountain ash contemplating another kamikaze attack on a road sign at Ben Cairn. Thank Hardys555 . The run down house in Warburton rented by the Rovers was demolished in 1943 and when the war finished the Rovers had no cheap and easily accessed accommodation in an area that was popular with their members. Attractions at the summit include BBQs, walking tracks, toboggan runs, and a 21 metre tall lookout tower. Mt Donna Buang to Mt Boobyalla – Distance: 2.5km / Time: 1.5 hrs / Grade: Moderate Mt Donna Buang return via Mt Victoria & 10 Mile – Distance: 6km / Time: 3 hrs / Grade: Moderate. Soup we heated in billies over a portable kero stove, and potatoes we baked in the ashes by the logs glowing in the fireplace. 's cabin was built in 1934 to the north of the base of the Main Run. Few places had ensuite bathrooms although some had a hand basin with a cold water tap in the bedrooms. The lodge was quickly completed and was formally opened on 8 July 1934, making it the first lodge owned by a ski club in Victoria, narrowly beating the SCV's cabin at Donna Buang and their Boggy Creek Hut at Mt Buller. Donna Buang, Mt. The second lookout tower was a head frame for three gold mines in an earlier life. . It starts with the country carriages being hauled by electric stock to Lilydale before continuing to Warburton hauled by K and J class steam locomotives. In subsequent years the Slide was renamed the Main Run as more ski runs were cut through the forest. Some were miners and from 1886 skiing mailmen traversed the Dargo High Plains between the St Bernard Hospice near Mt Hotham and Grant near the Crooked River goldfields. Unfortunately who made the film it is unknown. This toll continued to be charged until about 2008. . To help pay for all this, the road above the Six Mile Turntable at Cement Creek would become a toll road in winter. From the car park at the the top of Martyr Road, the track initially drops down through forest to a creek before heading north, climbing along a fence line next to a paddock. Fire, war and the decline of skiing on Donna Buang     - Fire and war     - After the warAppendices7. Yet here it is almost at their own back door. (Light blue and purple tracks on the map.) At the same time, skiing was becoming popular in New South Wales and Tasmania; by the mid 1920s interest in the new sport had achieved critical mass, allowing it to take off. If you are lucky, or early, you should spot a lyrebird. The autobiography of one of Victoria's most enthusiastic early skiers.Kelly, Reginald. The walking track to Boobyalla Saddle still follows it. Don’t worry though, it’s a loop ride so you still get to ride the Rail Trail as well! The SCV and their hut are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5. This reflected a couple of poorer than average ski seasons, but also the changing orientation of skiing in Victoria towards the higher mountains to the north east. A trip report by Jerry Donovan stated ‘...the snow was lightly packed, but after a few runs over the same tracks the pace was much accelerated. Happily the building was covered by the Government Insurance Office and a £200 payout financed the the Forests Commission to construct a new wooden hut over the summer of 1940 - 1941. Depending on the depth of snow, cars could be parked as high as 10 Mile or as low as the 6 Mile Turntable at the Cement Creek road junction. . The 'summit' is barely perceptible as it is really a knoll on a spur that looks like a mountain from near Warburton. In 1935 the Brighton Rifles, a unit of what is now called the Army Reserve, conducted 'snow manoeuvres' on Donna Buang. Some of the rubble from the stone jump can be seen above the modern road, 100 metres south east of the summit area shelter hut. 8 or 13 km. Reviewed 2 July 2020 via mobile . Lookout TowerMt St Leonard St Leonards Road continues north as Myers Creek Road. We would walk across the main road, over a bridge across the Yarra River and through the houses on the other side along a lane to the paddocks below the aqueduct at the foot of the forest. Mining of gold in deep reefs had been in decline for 20 years, so there were plenty of poppet heads available for not much more than their scrap value. One of the girls made a face in unspoken envy: the bikini top was not yet in fashion. We dropped packs and helped them for a couple of hours. In the early 20th century there was a proposal to rename the mountain again to Mt Edgar after the Minister of Public Works at the time building a road was first proposed, although nothing came of this. It is possible that other clubs raced on Donna Buang as well. There you will see a track heading up hill behind a couple of posts to prevent vehicle access. All issues from 1949 to 1987 are now available online.The four daily Melbourne newspapers of the time: The Age, The Argus, The Herald and the Sun News Pictorial.Local newspapers: Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader, Healesville and Yarra Glen Guardian, Warburton Mail.Table Talk. Sunday, June 21st, was a day to remember. She was about 4km up Mount Donna Buang Road in the Yarra Valley. A century ago funicular and winch powered tramways lowered timber down this steep ridge to railway sidings in the valley. . The packed car park gives an idea of how crowded the mountain was just a few years after it was discovered by skiers and other snow tourists. (Dark blue.) Clearing of the jump slope was funded with a generous £25 donation from Tom Mitchell. If you want to have an especially long and epic day, from the summit take the old Cement Creek track down to the road junction at the Six Mile turntable and then walk down the Acheron Way towards Warburton for just over 3 km to where it crosses the aqueduct. The busiest day at Donna appears to have been Sunday 7 July 1935 when The Argus reported that more than 2,000 vehicles carried 12,000 visitors to the mountain, while another daily newspaper The Herald reported a less precise figure of 'over 10,000'. Stunning climb/drive. The cabin was built by a club sub-committee led by Eddie Robinson. © Bradley James 2016. In the 1950s and 1960s the mountain remained very popular with sightseers, but the road did not received as much maintenance as it probably should have and it deteriorated to a fairly poor standard. However few people in Victoria used skis before the First World War; those who did mostly used them as a practical way of getting around in winter. and Public Works Department built a jump and toboggan run as well as clearing the ski run and doing other developmental work. cabin on the walking track between the 10 mile Turntable and the summit. * The oldest known ski clubs in Victoria are: Bright Alpine Club, 1888. But the January 1939 wildfires, followed seven months later by the outbreak of the Second World War slowed things down. A useful text, but partisan. Perhaps because the Melbourne Walking Club was not a dedicated ski club, their accommodation on the mountain continued to be popular with members into the 1950s, well after most skiers had abandoned Donna Buang. Elsewhere, the first lodges had been built at what would become Mt Baw Baw ski resort. If you have left a car here, drive down to the start of the walking track, otherwise it is an easy one hour walk along the road to your car. . The brief dismissal of Donna Buang is on pages 48 - 49. This may not have been as frivolous as it sounds as a few years later the Australian Army found a use for experienced skiers in two rather different theatres of war. But a few reminders of its heyday are hidden in the forest among the beech trees. The first ski run was built over the summer of 1924 - 1925 by the Warburton Progress Association. Mount Donna Buang is part of the Great Dividing Range and is the closest snowfield to Melbourne..... Hotels with Complimentary Breakfast in Warburton, Points of Interest & Landmarks in Warburton, Warburton Rainforest Gallery: Tickets & Tours‎, Buddha Bodhivana Monastery: Tickets & Tours‎, Visitor information centre: Tickets & Tours‎, Yarra Ranges National Park: Tickets & Tours‎, Habitat Nursery and Orchards: Tickets & Tours‎, Upper Yarra Arts Centre: Tickets & Tours‎, Upper Yarra Reservoir Park: Tickets & Tours‎.

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