A freelance writer from Melbourne, I blog at www.littlegirlwithabigpen.wordpress.com
Published July 12th 2011
Don't try to see the top of the steps from the bottom – all you'll do is hurt your neck, and you need to save your body for the journey up. And there's a lot of that. 1000 Steps is only a 50 minute drive from the city, in the Dandenong Ranges National Park in Ferntree Gully.
The walk takes about one hour. As stated on the parksweb website, the "similarity of the walk to the first 100 metres of the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea" is the reason for its official name, the "Kokoda Track Memorial Walk". The 800 metre walk to the base of the 1000 steps is a workout in itself. The actual steps are quite changeable – sometimes gradual inclines with evenly spaced steps, other times what looks like an almost vertical incline of bumpy mud slurry. You will get very sweaty before you reach the top of the steps, but the feeling of accomplishment that comes with all that sweat makes it well worth all the panting and burning legs.
If, as this walker did, you find yourself needing excuses to stop on the way up the mountain-side, the 1000 Steps walk provides plenty of them. Dotted along the track on the way up are plaques detailing what happened at a similar point on the Kokoda Track, and seats for you to collapse on as you see fit. Not only will you come down the mountain fitter, but more knowledgable too.
Essential for the walk are a bottle of water and a good pair of shoes – hiking boots if you have them. Set in a rainforest, and up a bit higher, the steps can get quite damp and slippery even on days that aren't particularly wet in the city – the last thing you want to be doing is tumbling down a staircase the size of this one.
Parking can be tricky on weekends, as the Dandenong Ranges National Park fills with tourists and fitness freaks alike, but don't let this deter you. By the time you get back to the bottom of the steps, you'll be filled with so much post-workout adrenaline that nothin' can touch you.