Mount Donna Buang
A few weeks ago I needed to go and commune with some sort of nature. And thus, I chose on my day off to ascend a mountain. Looking around Google Maps, at first I didn’t find a thing in this flat plain. Remember, I’m from Auckland, a city of 17 volcanoes. Mt Dandenong is just a hill to me. I bounded up it in 40 minutes once, years ago.
Concrete and anonymity faded past Ringwood, gradually. The road narrowed. Soon I was on a country highway, a sealed lane each way, dips, rises and turns this way and that. Field, sheep. Green. Country riding is a lot of fun. You feel the raw power and manoeuverability of the bike. You find your self fading into the pure experience of The Ride. Amazing.
I stopped in Healesville, at the base of the mountains. Healesville is “almost Melbourne”. It’s a very pretty tourist town with tree-lined streets and Victorian era buildings and a gorgeous old pub, the Healesville Hotel (where I stopped on the way back for a roast dinner).
Next, I proceeded towards the mountain. Now, I had never driven on unsealed roads, let alone windy, steep ones. And a third of the way down Donna Buang Road (NB: closed July-September) that is exactly what I encountered. This is a popular motorcycle route, and one that is clearly marked as being potentially hazardous- for good reason. The gravel is slippery, the road of poor, eroded condition. While it was marked as being 50-60kph with turns often at 30-40kph I found myself going far slower- more like 20-40kph through most of it. It was fun, adrenaline packed, but on a road bike also nerve-wracking. Not for the faint of heart.
The view on the way however- spectacular! Thick forest punctuated with fingers of sunlight. Occasionally it cleared enough to see miles and miles away over treetops and over the Victorian plains. Finally, I wound past the top of a ski run and emerged at the top, into sunlight. What a ride! I parked. My shoulders ached from the backpack I wore, and the sheer energy of the ride. On my way I had passed 2 cyclists and one other motorist- a car. But how delicious, I thought, to have the mountain practically to myself. I was only a couple of hours from home, and yet, for the first time in months, I was miles from habitation. Bliss.
There was plenty of bird life to keep my ears company, and a gentle, warm breeze. The view from the top of the viewing platform- which must be about 20m off the ground- is breathtaking. Forest, trees, blue, rolling mountains, and in the far distance, Melbourne, and the sea.
I took my time driving back. I was in absolutely no hurry to get back to the city. I had brought myself to the mountain, we had communed.
I was at peace.