Located near Bright in North East Victoria, Mount Buffalo is a unique mountain. Explorers Hume and Hovell named the mountain after its distinctive resemblance of a reclining Buffalo (though I’ve never quite been able to see it). As you drive through the Ovens Valley, it is hard to miss the massive rock formations that make up large parts of the mountain.
We’ve been visiting Mount Buffalo with friends and family almost yearly for as long as I can remember. the National Park holds a lot of significance for me.
Whether you are looking for a day trip or a camping weekend for the family, Mount Buffalo has tons on offer.
As you ascend the mountain, you’ll likely see some of the incredible waterfalls, especially if you are visiting after recent rainfall. You can stop on your way up the mountain at Eurobin and Ladies Bath Falls.
If you’re brave and the water isn’t too cold, you can even cool off by taking a dip! These aren’t the only Falls on the mountain. Further along on the drive you’ll also come across Rollasons Falls.
The Camp Ground and Lake Catani
Once you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll likely come across the picturesque Lake Catani. Nestled beside this man made lake is the Lake Catani Camp Ground and picnic area. There are picnic and bathroom facilities beside the lake. If you fancy a longer stay you can camp but you need to pre book as sites get snatched up early!
The camp site includes 49 unpowered sites amidst Snow Gum woodland. Campers need to bring their own food, water and other essential supplies as there isn’t anything available on the mountain. The campsite does have toilets, showers and fireplaces though.
From the campsite, it is just a short walk to the lake. There are often kayaks available for rent or you can brave the icy mountain water and go for a swim.
We typically swim from the jetty across to the rock on the other side. If we can still feel our limbs by that stage we swim towards the wall. It is refreshing but a good idea to head to the showers to warm up afterward before the hypothermia sets in.
From the campground you can walk to Mount Buffalo’s underground river. If you are the adventurous type this is where you can do some spelunking (that’s cave exploring). Though you should only attempt it with a guide and all the safety equipment.
We did it as kids and it was an incredible adventure. You’ll go from cavern to cavern covering about 350 metres. Keep in mind it is an underground river so you’ll get wet and be working against the flow of the water. And the water is cold! That being said, I can still remember making our way into one of the caverns. I was not able to see anything in front of me, and could just hear the sound of the water. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I looked up and saw these incredible glow worms on the ceiling of the cavern. It is definitely an experience you will remember for a lifetime.
There are plenty of hikes and walks for all levels on Mount Buffalo. The Underground River Walk is one of these. Even if you don’t fancy diving into a cave, you can enjoy exploring some of the sites above ground.
From Lake Catani Camp Ground, you can take a leisurely walk around the lake or walk to the old Chalet. If you’re up for something slightly more challenging, there is also the Monolith track. This will give you a stunning 360 degree view of the plateau.
One of the more challenging but also more scenic tracks is the Cathedral – Hump track. This will take you through some stunning granite rock formations. It is definitely one of my hiking highlights on the mountain. There are plenty of other hikes to see on the mountain. It’s worth planning ahead on which hikes you want to accomplish in your time at Mount Buffalo.
I don’t think you can really visit Mount Buffalo without going to the Horn. Even if you don’t do the reasonably steep hike to the top, you’ll be able to get stunning views from the parking area.
There is a little stone hut with a spectacular backdrop that makes a great photo opportunity. You can also hike to the very top of the horn which gives you excellent views of North East Victoria. It can get windy up there and I wouldn’t recommend it If you don’t like heights.
The Mount Buffalo Chalet
Built in 1910, the Mount Buffalo Chalet is an exquisite old building filled with tons of history. Unfortunately, this once bustling mountaintop resort has now been abandoned for nearly 15 years. I remember taking the walk from the campground to the resort as a youngster. We had a tour of the Chalet when it was still in business. In the foyer it had the original phones, there also was a massive ballroom and they showed us a room with an incredible view.
The gardens were wonderfully maintained with trimmed lawns and even a place to play croquet. We used to visit the restaurant for a treat, but unfortunately none of this is accessible today. Maybe someone will purchase the Chalet and return it to its former glory. In the meantime, you can peak through the fences and imagine what this grand hotel used to be like.
Mount Buffalo Gorge
The Chalet sits just above the Mount Buffalo Gorge which gives you a stunning view over the Ovens Valley and Victorian Alps.
This is also an optimal location for extreme sports enthusiasts. You might see people abseiling, rock climbing or even hang gliding from the top of the 200m high cliffs. I’ll stick with just taking some photos!
What is your favourite thing to do at Mount Buffalo?