The Forests of Warburton - a Pictorial Heritage - 1853 to 2012

1890 - Roads to the Forests

1853 - Beginnings
1885 to present day - Dee Valley Mills
1889 to 1919 - Mills in the Wesburn and Old Warburton area
1890 - Roads to the Forests
1901 to 1964 - The Warburton Railway
1902 to 1906 - Anderson's Mill
1902 to 1939 - East Warburton and Onwards
1903 to 1907- Robinson's Mill No. 1
1905 to 1949 - Tramways of the Mills
1905 to 1928 - Parbury's Brookfield Mill
1906 - Wondwondah Estate and the Adventist Church
1907 to 1913 - Richards Mill
1907 to 1922 - Robinson's Mill No. 1
1908 to 1922 - Robinson's No 2 Mill (Cement Creek)
1909 to 1916 - Hermon's Mill (La La Estate)
1909 to 1949 - The Warburton Steam Railway
1911 to 1915 -The O'Shannassy Aqueduct and Weir
1915 to 1973 - Brimbonga Seasoning Works - East Warburton
1918 to 1925 - Sunnydale Mill, East Warburton
1919 to 1920 - Slocum and Walker's Mill
1920 - From the Bush to the Bungalow
1922 to 1932 - Enterprise Mill (La La)
1925 - Family Snow Trip to Mt Donna Buang
1932 to 1937 - Horner's Mill
1938 to 2000 - Tuckman's Mills
1950 - Welcome Back to Warburton
The Donna Buang Range
The Author's Personal Websites

1929 - Acheron Way

Ben Cairn Rock 1926

1924 Ben Cairn Rd

2012 - McVeigh's waterwheel at Upper Yarra Dam (author's pic)

Roads to the Forests

In the 1860s, “Mount Acland” was the name given to the 1,250m high mountain by a Police Magistrate called Joseph Anderson Panton. The name it has today, “Mount Donna Buang”, came from the
Wurundjeri Aborigines.


There were no roads to the Donna Buang Range in those years, and the forests were unexplored.


A rough walking track to the summit of Mount Donna Buang was cut during the 1890s and the much wider Donna Buang Bridle Track was blazed in 1911. This was for horses and foot-traffic, and continued to Healesville, past Ben Cairn and Malleson’s Lookout.

In 1912, the vehicular road to the Turntable was opened, followed by the road to the summit.

The original Bridle Track was actually hacked out of the mountainside for use by the then Melbourne Water Board for maintenance and inspection activities.

Warburton was a two-hour train journey from Spencer Street, so a day trip to the top was possible if you hired a horse in the township to ride to the summit. A primitive timber lookout at the top gave spectacular views as far to the Victorian Alps in one direction and Port Phillip Bay in the other.

In 1928 a steel Lookout Tower at Donna Buang replaced the old wooden structure, which was actually a poppet head brought from the Bendigo mines, and previously at Wood's Point.

In 1912, a new Marysville to Donna Buang Horse Track was cut via Acheron Gap, Mt Ritchie, Mt Strickland, and Keppell's Lookout. This track passed along the O'Shannassy watershed and a waterfall on Deep Creek cascading to a depth of 100 metres.

In the 1920s, there was a further boost to tourism when motorized vehicles were able to make the journey and it became a popular day trip destination for the citizens of Melbourne.

The mountain also became known as the closest snowfield to Melbourne.

In 1924, the Ski Club of Victoria built an 8-foot-wide (2.4 m) track for skiers on the top of Mount Donna Buang. Being the nearest location to Melbourne where you could ski, the mountain was well patronised and both the Ski Club of Victoria and the Melbourne University Ski Club built huts on the mountain to cater for their members. During the 1930s the Warburton Ski Club was officially formed as well. The first observation tower was erected shortly after the bridle track was opened.

In 1926, a new vehicular road, known as the Acheron Way, was opened, linking the Mt Donna Buang Rd at the Cement Creek Junction with the settlement of Narberthong.


The road from Donna Buang to Healesville was intended to provide a high level vehicular route for travellers wishing to drive from Warburton (or vice-versa).

In 1926, the new vehicular track from Mt Donna Buang to Healesville was opened, passing Ben Cairn. Prior to this, there was no vehicular access between Ben Cairn and Cement Creek.

Unfortunately, the authorities at the time did not understand that this route was buried under snow in winter, and in later years it was closed for the winter months.

Woods Point

The present-day Warburton to Woods Point Rd was a rough track in the late 1890s. It passed through the small settlement of Walsh's Creek, where McVeighs Hotel was located.

In 1898, a coach service operated between Warburton and McVeighs, which was later extended to Woods Point. Newspaper reports of the 1920s and 1930s era advised that the road was in very bad condition, and it was subsequenty upgraded in 1946.

The track to Wood's Point, as well as Walsh's Creek and McVeighs, were submerged when the Upper Yarra Reservoir was built in 1957. A waterwheel, and an information board at the main picnic area at the Upper Yarra Dam describes the history of McVeighs.

The present-day road from Warburton to Woods Point follows the Yarra Valley . but at a much lower altitude than the original track

1889 - Map of Upper Yarra Region at the info board at Upper Yarra Dam, author's pic 2012

1924 - Early map of Healesville and Warburton roads


1930 - the road to Ben Cairn

1926 - Ben Cairn Rock

1929 - Acheron Way

1935 - skiing at Mt Donna Buang

1912 - official opening of Mt Donna Buang Track (the only known photo in existance!)

1914 - McVeigh's

1912 - McVeigh's

Contact Bob Padula