Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
If you have ever visited the 1000 Steps in the Dandenong Ranges, you will be aware how popular this track is. In a previous article I likened it to Bourke St in Melbourne and others suggest it should be renamed the 1000 people or Melbourne's stampede. Whilst all of these comments are of course exaggerated, they do come with a certain degree of truth.
We have completed the 1000 Steps on several occasions and though each time we comment about there being a thousand other walks and question why everyone is just at this one spot?
We find ourselves coming back frequently, and here's the reason why!
It's an easy drive from where we live and we can incorporate it with other activities in the area. The atmosphere is always buzzing here from people who have just decided to get off the couch and get fit, tourists and dedicated fitness fanatics preparing for the 'real' Kokoda Track, and all are there for the same reason to conquer the 1000 Steps and maybe take a photo or two at One Tree Hill to put on Facebook. Nothing feels better than triumph and you will see many happy faces in defeating the stairs, it always feels easy once your at the top!
The walk begins from the Ferntree Gully picnic ground where you walk under the Kokoda Memorial Archway, and continues past the playground. You will then notice 4 big pillars with the words mateship, courage, sacrifice and endurance; these 4 words have great meaning for the diggers and also for past and present ADF personnel for whom the memorial represents. On the other side of the pillars is a large amount of information about the Second World War and the Australian spirit.
Beyond this you will come to a fork in the path, the left is the start to the Lyrebird Track and to the right is the 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. On this occasion I took the Lyrebird Track, it's a little longer than the 1000 Steps 2.5km compared to 1.8km (one way)but both end in the same place at One Tree Hill, so you can turn it into a circuit and go up one way then down the other.
The differences between the two tracks is the 1000 Steps follows the river and goes through fern gullies and the scenery is beautiful, whilst the Lyrebird Track is more open and surrounded by gum trees and more resembles a fire trail.
Whilst the Lyrebird Track isn't as scenic as the 1000 Steps, and is a little steeper, there are also fewer people. So it depends on if your there purely for fitness or for both scenery and fitness to which track is the better of the two?
History and facts of the 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk:
The walk was first created in the 1900's, originally made from the trunks of fern trees laid along the wetter areas to make climbing easier. In the 1950's permanent concrete steps were installed.
The 1000 steps represent the 'Golden Staircase' a name given by the Australian Army Engineers and others into the track between Uberi and Imita Ridge in Papua New Guinea.
There are not actually 1000 Steps, there are approximately 770 and the total ascent is 290 metres.
Whist I think the Lyrebird Track is steeper in sections than the 1000 Steps I still think both are achievable for average fitness, some will find it harder than others but the satisfaction at the top will make it worthwhile.
Take the Belgrave line train and get off at Upper Ferntree Gully station, walk east following the Burwood Highway to the Ferntree Gully picnic grounds entrance which is near the intersection of Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd. The walk starts approximately 1km from the train station.
Enter the car park from Burwood Highway, there are plenty of parking spaces but it's very busy on weekends. My tip is to park at the train station which is an easy walk to the picnic grounds.
well, off we go then. This weekend looks to be the 1000 steps. Wow this place sounds absolutely fantastic. A place I can take in all the beautiful surrounds including upping the hart rate and then enjoying a coffee. This is just what I am up for in this cooling weather. Thankyou.
When I was a kid the 1 thousand steps used to be peaceful with no one around..( mid 1980"s).. Now it's ruined by all these fitness fanatics who use it as a training venue... I wish it could go back to the way it used to be.. Sadly that won't happen..nowadays their are way too many people using the 1000 steps as their personal training venue when it was never designed for that purpose... It's a shame people don't realise this ... It's supposed to be a nature walk, not a training ground... Oh well ,, that's my rant.... I'm just glad I have memories of it the way it used to be... A peaceful bush walk..