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The first time I heard of Mt Buffalo National Park was while I was scrolling through Instagram and came across the @seehighcountry account. Located in Victoria’s alpine region, Mt Buffalo National Park is a beautiful part of Victoria that is worth the long drive.
This 31,000 hectare park is at an elevation of 1,723 m above sea level. In other words, when you visit Mt Buffalo National Park, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world (or at least, on top of the state of Victoria!)
For my fellow travelers who aren’t used to hiking in snow conditions, we visited during Summer and the blue skies, warm weather makes this the perfect outdoor summer holiday.
I’ve put together a guide to visiting and the best hikes in Mt Buffalo National Park.
Table of contents
- Where is Mt Buffalo National Park?
- Drive to Mt Buffalo National Park
- When to Visit Mt Buffalo National Park
- Where to stay Mt Buffalo National Park
- The best hikes at Mt Buffalo National Park in summer
Where is Mt Buffalo National Park?
Mt Buffalo National Park is located in Victoria’s alpine region, also known as the High Country.
This national park is approximately 365 km northeast of Melbourne and is a short drive from the popular tourist town, Bright.
This alpine region has endless hiking adventures and is also popular during the snow season.
Drive to Mt Buffalo National Park
Mt Buffalo National Park can only be visited by car. There is no public transport up to Mt Buffalo, and the area around Mt Buffalo is very hard to reach without a car.
If you’re driving from Melbourne, it is approximately a 4-5 hour drive. The drive is very long, and I’d recommend regular breaks so that you can arrive safely.
We found the fastest route to be via the Tullamarine Fwy/ M2 before continuing onto the Hume Fwy/ National Highway M31. You’ll then want to follow signs for Snow Rd/ C522 and then Great Alpine Rd/B500 before following signs for Mount Buffalo Rd/C535.
When in doubt, Google Maps is a great resource for up-to-date information on the fastest route to Mt Buffalo. You can also download maps for use offline in case you don’t have reception!
When to Visit Mt Buffalo National Park
Since Mt Buffalo National Park is located in Victoria’s alpine region, this makes it a year-round destination! You can visit Mt Buffalo any time of year, with some caveats.
We visited in the peak of summer and found the days long and sun-filled. This makes Mt Buffalo National Park perfect for a hiking holiday. If visiting in summer, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and hats as it can get really hot. Also, make sure you download the Vic Emergency app to keep up-to-date with bushfire warnings.
In Autumn and Spring, the weather in Mt Buffalo is a lot more milder than summer. This makes it a perfect time to visit if you don’t like hiking in the heat. During Autumn, nearby towns of Bright are known for their golden autumn foliage.
In Winter, Mt Buffalo National Park becomes a snow-filled wonderland. Many visitors visit during this time for snow activities like skiing, snowshoe walking, and tobogganing. Unlike the big ski resorts, there is no entry fee for Mt Buffalo, making it an ideal place to visit for first-time snow visitors on a budget.
If you’re planning to visit in the winter season, you will need to carry snow chains for your car on specified days, depending on local conditions. You can find out if you will need to carry snow chains by checking the Visit Mount Buffalo Facebook page.
Where to stay Mt Buffalo National Park
The only places to stay in Mt Buffalo National Park are camp sites which are managed via Parks Victoria. If you want easy access to nearby hikes, you can stay at the Lake Catani Campground. There is also the hike-in sites at Rocky Point and Mount McLeod.
For anyone not interested in camping, there are other nearby options in the towns of Bright or Porepunkah, both of which sit at the base of Mt Buffalo.
Porepunkah is a 45-minute drive to the highest point of Mt Buffalo, and Bright is a 55-minute drive.
Both these towns have accommodation options that suit all options – from budget travelers to those who want to splurge. Bright also has a Woolworths and an IGA where you can stock up on groceries. There are also petrol stations in both towns. Since they’re only a 10-minute drive from each other, you really can’t go wrong with either!
When visiting, we stayed at the Big4 Porepunkah Holiday Park. If you’re booking your accomodation last minute, Porepunkah is less busy compared to Bright.
The best hikes at Mt Buffalo National Park in summer
There are endless hiking adventures you can go on while visiting Mt Buffalo National Park during summer. I’ve included the hikes that I think give you the best bang for your buck – the best views to effort ratio. I’ve also created a map on Google Maps of starting points for each of the hikes so they’re easy for you to find!
1. The Gorge Heritage Walk
Starting at the Gorge day visitor area (car park opposite The Chalet), the Gorge Heritage Walk is a 1-2 hr return walk, with views across a plunging waterfall, and of course cliffside views. Along the hike are informational boards sharing the history of Mt Buffalo National Park, making it a great way to learn more about the history of the area.
We did this hike as a “warm up” hike when we arrived at Mt Buffalo. We loved reading the informational boards along the hike. After the hike, don’t miss The Chalet, located opposite the carpark.
You can also quench your thirst at the coffee van located in the Gorge day visitor area car park.
Starts at: Gorge day visitor area (opposite The Chalet)
Duration: 1 – 2 hrs, 2.5 km return
3. The Cathedral – Hump Walk
The Cathedral and Hump Walk is one of the hikes I recommend everyone do when at Mt Buffalo National Park.
Starting at the Cathedral Saddle Car Park, this track winds past the Cathedral (rock formations) before taking you up to “The Hump”.
Once the track takes you past the hump, the climb gets a bit rocky, so comfortable shoes are a must. You’ll then reach a lookout area with views across the Mount Buffalo plateau, and the Horn (Mt Buffalo’s highest point).
If you can, I highly recommend visiting at sunset, the colours of the sky make this a magical spot at this time of day. Make sure you bring a torch so you can see on your way down after it gets dark!
Starts at: Cathedral Saddle Car Park
Duration: 45 min, 2 km return
3. The Horn, Mt Buffalo’s highest point
The Horn is the highest point in Mt Buffalo National Park, and the 360 views of the surrounding High Country are incredible.
The road up is unpaved and on a dry day it gets very dusty. Make sure when you’re visiting to be careful when driving, especially right before sunset – the combination of dust and sunlight makes visibility hard! It’s definitely worth the slow drive up – the views from here are unlike anywhere else in Mt Buffalo.
If you’re traveling with friends or family members who don’t want to hike, the Horn Picnic Area is still worth a visit, especially at sunset.
The hike up to The Horn lookout is a steady uphill climb and definitely do-able by anyone of reasonable fitness. Once you’re up at the lookout, the 360 degree views are unobstructed across Mt Buffalo.
Starts at: The Horn Picnic Area
Duration: 1 hr, 3 km return
4. The Monolith
The Monolith is a giant granite boulder that will leave you puzzled as to how it stays upright. From here you can also see 360 views of the plateau.
Starts at: Gorge day visitor area (trail head is located next to the coffee cart)
Duration: 2 hrs, 2 km return
5. Rollasons Falls
Starting at the Rollasons Falls Picnic Area is a trail perfect for cooling off in hot weather! The trail first takes you down to the upper falls and if you continue down to the lower falls. Both upper and lower falls have options where you can take a cold dip
Some parts of the track can be slippery and steep, so make sure you wear comfortable footwear!
Starts at: Rollasons Falls Picnic Area (picnic tables and toilets available here)
Duration: 45 min, 3 km return
Regardless of what you choose to do while visiting, there is no doubt that Mt Buffalo National Park is a beautiful place! I’m looking forward to a future visit during the snow season.