Conquer the 1000 Steps Dandenong (challenge yourself!)

The 1000 steps Melbourne, is a popular trail located in the Dandenong ranges national park. As you climb the winding steps up a steep hill, thick lush trees and ferns surrounds you.

1000 steps walk is a favorite mini adventure of mine, that’s easily accessible from Melbourne. The Steps are a popular training playground for people looking to push their endurance.

Though don’t be discouraged, if you don’t feel like a running up and down a 1000 steps. If you would rather take your time to enjoy the sights, while still taking on the challenge. You won’t be alone.

The kakoda 1000 steps is very popular with people looking for a fun outdoors activity with friends and family.

Dandenong 1000 steps also has great amenities such as public BBQ’s with gazebos, playgrounds, toilets and the 1000 steps café located at the beginning of the trail. Which I tend to stop past and have a coffee before I start the track. Then enjoy a big well-deserved breakfast after completing the 1000 steps.

Length: 3 Km
Time: 1.5 hr return approximately

Grade: Steep (reasonable level of fitness required)
Track: gravel, dirt, stairs

Cost: Free + free parking

Opening hours: gates open to the picnic ground at 6am and close at 9pm.

How long does it take

The 1000 steps distance is around 3 km return, with reasonable fitness you will make the challenge in roughly 1-1.5 hours.  If you’re in great shape you can complete the steps as a round trip in 45 minutes. It’s also very popular to complete 3 or more complete circuits.

How to get to the 1000 steps Dandenong ranges

1000 steps address:

Dandenong Ranges National Park, Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Ferny Creek VIC 3786

By car

The fern tree gully picnic ground is at the beginning of Dandening tourist rd (Fern Tree Gully end) if you are using a GPS the 1000 steps dandenong address is Dandenong Ranges National Park, Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Ferny Creek VIC 3786

By train

Catch the train to Ferntree Gully Station on the Belgrave line. From the station walk east following the Burnwood Highway (about 1 km). At the intersection of Burnwood Hwy and Dandenong Tourist Road, you will find the park entrance. The just head up the hill and past the carparks and you will find the start of the 1000 steps Kakoda Walk.

1000 steps car park

The car parks are free, there are three main car parks at Melbourne 1000 steps. The car parks can get busy, especially on the weekend. If your planning on heading to the 1000 steps on the weekend, go early. Otherwise the weekdays are quiet. If you can’t find a spot in any of the car parks, then go to the end and turn back onto Dandenong tourist road, you can usually find a spot on the side of the road.

History of the 1000 steps Kokoda memorial track

The 1000 steps trail was created in the 1900s with trunks of the fern trees placed along the path to make the climb easier when the trail got wet. Overtime the 1000 steps went from trunks of ferntree to wooden palings until the permeant concrete steps installed in the 1950s.

The trail was adopted by the Kokoda veterans in 1998 and repurposed into a memorial for the fallen Australian soldiers killed in Papa New Guinea during World War Two.

There are two memoriasl located before the Kokoda 1000 steps track begins. ( worth a look)

My journey on the Dandenong 1000 steps

It’s one of the first true sunny days of spring in Melbourne, so I’m keen to be outside. After finding a car park (super busy, due to it being Sunday) I grab my gear and begin.

Making my way past family’s having picnics and BBQs, I find the entrance gates.

On the left of the path, opposite the playground is a row of water fountains, I recommend having a drink and filling up your water bottle. One drink bottle will be ok, less weight the better and there is are water fountains when you reach the top.

After quenching my thirst, I move on. There is a war memorial on your right, then a bit further along. Another war memorial on your left, it’s worth having a look and reading some of the stories.

After the war memorial there are three different tracks.

  1. For the Kokoda 1000 steps keep going straight.

  2. The track that goes left is Lyrebird track (1.4km/45min) usually people come down from the top via this path after completing the 1000 steps, the path itself is basically a gravel service road with steps along the side (steps only during the steep sections).

  3. The track to your right is Rambler Walk (470m/15 min), it’s a small walk but quite nice. It also links back up with Kokoda 1000 steps track before the 1000 steps.

Continue along the track for about 10-15 min, trees will star to surround you’re view. Plus, as you walk along. You will notice a small creek to your right, which you will travel next to all the way to you reach the top of the steps.

 At the end of the track, you will find a rest area. It’s a great spot to stretch and have a drink. because now the 1000 steps begin!

The challenge begins!

 So remember not to go hard too soon or risk burning out early. The steps begin without too much difficulty. The start is more of a mild uphill walk.

As I entered the steps and walked for a few minutes, I start to feel engulfed by the lush ferns and trees that surround me. It’s a great feeling after being couped up through winter. Especially with the sun shining through the trees canopy. The steps themselves are made from permeant concrete with metal handrails (helpful when it’s steeper and wet).

The steps make their way up the hills edge, with creek on your right. Large ferns and trees overhanging the path. Casting shadows, giving the path a Jurassic presence.

Along the way, old trees have fallen. With one tree having the path cut straight through.

With so many steps that just keep inclining steeper and steeper. You really start to feel the challenge, at this point my thighs and carves started aching and feel heavy.

But don’t stress too much, there are many rest areas along the way. So just take your time. Have some water and just enjoy being surrounded by nature.

As I came closer to the top, the steps are at their steepest. I defiantly noticed the incline and how helpful are the hand rail.

After I climbed what feels like to many steps, I turned a corner and you see people, all sitting around looking like I felt. I made it! I just made it to the top of the 1000 steps challenge.

At the top, I just relax for a while. The hard work is over, and I needed a rest.

If you have used up all your water. There are water fountain next to the fence and an area to stretch out those tight legs.

After relaxing for a bit, there is a choice of 3 different tracks back down the hill:

  • Kokoda 1000 steps - going straight back down is fun. You see the steps in a different way and with less focus on climbing each step. It’s also defiantly quicker than coming up, but you need to pay attention not to slip or trip, especially when its wet.

  • Lyrebird track- is a very popular track to get back to the bottom after you climb the 1000 steps. It’s a gravel path/road with steps on the side when its steep. It can get mildly steep in some areas and the gravel make is easy to slip over, so recommend paying attention.

  • Ramu track - if you follow the path upward, you get to a car park with a sign for Ramu track. This track is longer, you can take it until theirs an intersection. Either join Lyrebird track or alternatively Belview track.

Belview track is longer, but it’s a great walk through the woods. The track ends near the very bottom of the car parks. I’ve done this walk a few times and had a great time, even seen a few friendly kangaroos.

This is a photo of the map of the different track located at the top of 1000 steps, so have a look if you’re unsure.

This time, I chose to go back down the 1000 steps!

Its steep, but it’s fun as well, plus seeing the steps going down give a different perspective. The step weave back down the hill once again engulfing me in lush green trees and large Ferns

On the way down, I find I notice more of the surrounding, different trees , bird, very sweaty people.

I guess not being distracted by a raging water fall from my forehead and burning thighs, is letting me enjoy the scenery.

After taking in the sights on what I missed out on, I find myself back at the start of the steps, where I stretched and rested for a while.

 As I walked along the track back to the playground and war memorials. I decided to turned left and take the Rambler walk, rather than keep following the same track. It only short detour, but it crosses over to the other side of the creek. I generally find this less busy and it offer some nice new scenery.

The track ends at the war memorial. Where the track intersects with Lyrebird and Kokoda 1000 steps tracks.

Now I’ve just completed the Dandenong 1000 steps challenge, it’s now time to relax, maybe find that café.

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