After the winter hibernation, spring time in Melbourne is a time for re-introducing yourself to the sunshine and re-energising your body. Here are a few winter busting fitness routines that are guaranteed to put spring back into your step in Melbourne:
The 1000 Steps - There's not quite 1000 of them but guessing the right number is a bit like trying to count the number of jelly beans in a jar. This short but strenuous climb takes you through eucalypt forest and lush fern gullies up the southern edge of the Dandenong Ranges near Fern Tree Gully. The height of the steps increases the further up the mountain you climb. For a leg wobbling downhill return, complete the circuit back to the car park via the Lyrebird Track, which the government is spending $1M to upgrade. Here's hoping they find another million to re-build the viewing tower at the top of One Tree Hill that used to be a just reward for all that shortness of breath on the way up. The steps are just off Burwood Highway at the base of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road in Fern Tree Gully.
Parliament House steps (Spring Street) - This is the location in Melbourne which I believe most closely resembles the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts building, which Rocky Balboa famously conquered on his fitness comeback in the 1976 movie bearing his name. After a run underneath the elm trees in nearby Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens, the final sprint up these 40 steps is an excellent place to finish off your workout, preferably with trumpets blaring the movie soundtrack on your mp3 player as you hit the top step and turn triumphantly to face the city. Parliament House is located on the appropriately named Spring Street, at the top end of Bourke Street.
Eureka Tower - If you need a challenging goal to motivate your fitness program, the Eureka Tower has an annual charity staircase run in November each year. The building is 300 m high with 88 floors and 1642 stairs and dwarfs other buildings in the Melbourne skyline. The climb takes around 10-30 minutes for competitors, depending on fitness levels. Go t www.eurekaclimb.com.au for more information about the annual climb. The building stairs are not open to the public at other times. If the prospect of all these stairs is too much physical effort, there's always the psychological challenge of a single courageous step out onto the edge experience, which protrudes from the side of the building on the observation deck. The base of the building is in Southbank between St.Kilda Road and Queens Bridge.
Parliament station escalator - At the time these escalators were constructed, they were the longest in the southern hemisphere. If you invest in a Myki card to get you through the barriers, you'll find two flights of vertigo inducing escalators. On the lower lever from platforms 1 and 2 to platforms 3 and 4 there are around 60 steps and from platforms 3 and 4 to the barriers near the surface you'll find a further 100 steps. The number of steps you actually climb will depend on how fast you climb relative to the escalator speed. It's best to climb here outside of peak hour and if you're looking for a tougher challenge, there's always the option of climbing in the opposite direction to the escalator movement. Once through the barriers and outside the terminal there are a further three flights of stairs of 16-17 steps each leading up to street level. Entry to the escalators is via the Albert/Nicholson Street entrance.
Shrine of rememberance - The shrine sits within the Kings Domain parklands near St Kilda Road. There are four identical sets of 39 stairs in two flights on each side of the building, with the front entrance containing a third flight of 14 stairs. If you don't want to disturb the diggers paying their respects to the fallen, the stairs at the back of the shrine are rarely used. They sit on top of a steep grassy hill that adds to the effort of the climb if you start from the bottom. Entry to the shrine itself is free and has commanding views of the city and Kings Domain.
Birrarung Marr - Stair Climbing Australia ( www.towerrunning.com.au) lists this as their CBD training venue in Melbourne and after a short walk through this park it's easy to see why. I counted six separate staircases to climb: 6x10 steps at the side of the hill nearest the railway line, 40 short plus 15 long steps up the centre of the hill, 3x13 steps near the river and 3 separate staircases over Batman Avenue each with 4 flights of 14-15 steps. If you traverse all six staircases you will have climbed over 200 steps. Set yourself a time trial course to challenge yourself and monitor your fitness levels week by week.
Stairs Hair Salon - Stepping into spring in Melbourne is not just about feeling good from all that exercise, it's about looking good too. After conquering the various staircases above, you should be able to easily skip up the single storey to Stairs Salon in William Street South Yarra, just near the South Yarra station. After a spring shearing you'll feel lighter, brighter and ready for summer.