Any Aussie worth their salt would be well aware of the legendary Kokoda Track. But, how many of you have heard of the 1000 Steps Walk?
Nestled in the Dandenong Ranges, just 40km from the city of Melbourne. The 1000 Steps Walk is an ideal training ground for those wanting to tackle the actual Kokoda Track. The track is officially named the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. And it’s no wonder hiking fans from all over Australia flock to Victoria just for this experience.
Initially built in the 1900’s, the 1000 Steps Walk was constructed with the trunks of tree ferns. Now replaced with a combination of wooden steps and and concrete. The evolution of the track has made it easier for visitors to ascend the 290 metre incline in all types of weather.
Beginning at the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, under the Kokoda Memorial Archway, the 1000 Steps Walks spans 3 kilometres of gravel & dirt paths and wooden and concrete stairs. The path follows a winding creek bed through a gorgeous, wet fern gully.
Snaking its way through filtered sunlight, past tree ferns, mana gums and an assortment of native Australian wildlife. Keen walkers and joggers may even spot the odd lyrebird or two along the way.
The path itself is lined with plaques, representing the “golden staircase” as it was named by the Australian Soldiers. Paving the way from Uberi to Imita Ridge. The plaques found along the 1000 Steps Walk depict the lives of the soldiers who fought, and lost their lives on the real Kokoda Trail in WWII.
The complete Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is a round trip beginning and ending just metres from the carpark. Giving visitors the choice to return via the same 1000 steps they took to the “top” or to head back down via the Lyrebird Trail.
The “top” or “peak” of the trail itself being a bit of a misnomer. Though visitors have reached the height of their ascent, the surrounding bush does little to confirm the achievement. The peak of the track is encompassed within dense gulley, showing only glimpses of the bush below.
Visiting the 1000 Steps Walk
How Long Does it Take to Walk the Thousand Steps?
Depending on your level of fitness, most visitors report clocking their trek in 40minutes to an hour at a brisk walk. Some fitness enthusiasts can run the track in 20 minutes. Though it’s not recommended you attempt this unless you are extremely experienced. Particularly as the trail itself is steep, slippery and narrow.
If you need a little break along the way, there are a few seats available throughout the trail. You can also slow your pace a bit to take in the history and context around the trail. By stopping to read the plaques along the way, you not only get a well-deserved rest, but you can also draw in the history and context around the trail.
How Hard is the One Thousand Steps Walk?
In terms of navigability, the One Thousand Steps Walk is incredibly easy! With a large digital sign pointing the way to the entry, there’s no chance you won’t know where to start. The trail itself is clear and open with plenty of visibility to what’s ahead. Scattered with signs along the way, you’ll find it hard to get lost.
However, if you’re looking to find out how well you’ll be able to tackle the steps themselves, it’s going to depend on your level of fitness. If you come prepared with plenty of water and a reasonable level of fitness, walking the 1000 steps should come as no problem. Bear in mind the trail is steep, narrow at points and can be slippery in wet weather.
Can I take my dog on the 1000 steps walk?
Unfortunately, because the Kokoda Track Memorial Trail is within the Dandenong Ranges National Park, dogs are not allowed.
However, there are exceptions for assistance dogs, permitting they meet certain requirements. Including carrying with you accredited assistance dog identification cards, a letter from your medical practitioner outlining the existence and purpose of the assistance animal and state government issued public transport assistance animal pass.
What are the Opening Hours?
The 1000 steps walk is open to the public from 7am to 9pm daily. Though it can be incredibly busy over the weekends, particularly in the morning. Winter is also considered the best time to visit if you’re looking for a bit of extra space. Though still busy during the cooler months, the 1000 steps attracts far less visitors during winter.
What are the Entry Prices?
As part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, entry to the Kokoda Track Memorial Trail and 1000 Steps Walk is completely free! However, OneAdventure recommends that you bring some cash (or in this day and age, contactless cash) with you so you can pop into one of the many local cafes at the top.
How Accessible is the 1000 steps walk?
Incredibly accessible, though as mentioned earlier, also incredibly popular. The track itself starts just beyond a carkpark, though if you turn up any later than 10am on the weekends, you may find a couple of kilometre walk from your eventual parking spot to the entrance of the trail. The carpark opens at 7am and closes and 9pm daily.
Being so close to Melbourne, there are also plenty of ways to get here on public transport. With stops for trains and busses nearby, you don’t need to drive to experience this Australian wonder.
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