Donvale is a residential suburb immediately south of Warrandyte. The part west of Springvale Road (about one quarter of the suburb's area) has normal size house blocks and the part to the east has blocks of about one acre, like its neighbour Park Orchards. Taking Springvale Road as the suburb's central point, it is 19 km east of central Melbourne. The suburb's southern boundary is the Mullum Mullum Creek, and under part of the creek's valley there is the Mullum Mullum or Melba tunnel connecting the Eastlink and Eastern Freeways.

Donvale's separate identity came in about 1929 with the opening of Donvale post office. Before then it was a peripheral part of Doncaster, Warrandyte South and Ringwood North. An area of farms and orchards, families had a choice of State primary schools at Doncaster East (1878), Warrandyte South (1907) or Ringwood North (1923). Donvale's elevated topography was chosen for a tuberculosis sanitorium in 1910, about 1.5 km east of Springvale Road where there was an Anglican church (1907). By the 1930s Donvale was a fruit growing district with a local cool store.

The Carmelite Catholic Order acquired the site of the sanitorium and established its Whitefriars monastery in about 1940. There was a scatter of non-farm residences in the late 1930s, with some notable examples designed by Percy Meldrum. In 1961 Whitefriars Catholic boys' college opened, still in a rural setting, but new houses were well to the fore later in the decade. Donvale State high and primary schools opened in 1967 and 1968, Donvale P-12 Christian college in 1975 and a Catholic primary school in 1978. Donvale primary school had 240 pupils in 2014.

Donvale has linear parks along Mullum Mullum Creek, with walking trails, Donvale Bowls Club (1988) and other sports facilities. There are a few neighbourhood shops and the larger drive-in shopping areas are Tunstall Square just outside Donvale at Doncaster East, The Pines (Doncaster East) or further away at Ringwood. The monastery became the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese, the Anglican church a 'living and learning centre' and the high school amalgamated with Mullauna college at Mitcham.

Donvale's wide open eastern spaces continue to prevail, although some longer-term residents have observed a tailing off of community activity as people age and home entertainment keeps people indoors. The Donvale Country Women's Assocation, established in 1945 after wartime knitting and handiwork for military people in the field, nevertheless continued. It was the last branch standing in Manningham city after the Templestowe branch closed in 2008.

Donvale's census populations have been:

census date population
2001 10,973
2006 11,668
2011 11,795