Experience a tiny sense of exhaustion felt by the Australian soldiers who followed the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II. Plaques along the trail depict the lives of the soldiers who fought and died on the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, and the area has historical significance. It is one of the Dandenong’s most popular tourist attractions and it’s always a running joke that there aren’t actually 1,000 steps. If you want to know the exact number you’ll have to go and count them yourself.
The walk was created in the early 1900’s and is roughly 2.8 km long and will take about an hour to get to One Tree Hill. The path was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb a little easier. The track is set amongst a beautiful rainforest backdrop of the ferns, foliage and wildlife. To make the climb easier and safer, concrete steps were later installed in 1950.
The walk begins from the Ferntree Gully picnic ground where you walk under the Kokoda Memorial Archway, and continues past the playground. 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 1,000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. This is one scary climb. The steps can be slippery on dry days so make sure you’re equipped with good shoes and watch your step.
Just the walk up from the car park to the base of the 1,000 steps is extreme. 1 km in length & averaging 12% in gradient. You’re pretty much out of breath before you even hit the climb proper. It’s no surprise that a large number of hikers take a break before they hit the 1,000 steps.
The 1,000 steps is extremely hard, and continues to get steeper and steeper as you get to the top. It’s only 500 meters in length but seems like it goes on forever. The further into the track the more you see hikers pull over to the side to catch their breath. Some even lose their lunch on the way up.
At the top there isn’t a view and given the torture it takes to get to the top, many could ask “WHY?”. There is an allure to climbing the 1,000 steps, and everyone doing so would have their own motivation. There are people from all walks of life who make the trek to climb the stairs. From small children to some very, very, very fit seniors. You may even see parents carrying their newborns in a backpack.
There are additional trails at the top of the steps for those who want to hike further too.
The popularity of the 1,000 steps continues to grow. Getting a car park, can be as hard as the climb itself. There are people who will climb the steps all throughout the day, and people are willing to park all the way up to the Devil’s Elbow to do this climb. As an alternative, if you don’t mind a longer walk, you can either park at the Upper Ferntree Gully Train station, or up the top at One Tree Hill. This is one of Melbourne’s most popular walks. It’s remarkable to see so many into fitness these days.
Next to the 1,000 steps is the Lyrebird Track. 2.5 km in length, and personally I find this track much harder. It is unbelievably steep, and unlike the 1,000 steps you can see long sections in front of you. The differences between the two tracks is the 1,000 Steps follows the river and goes through fern gullies and the scenery is beautiful. The Lyrebird Track is more open and surrounded by gum trees and is pretty much a fire trail. Steps have been installed to make this climb/descent a little safer and easier to do.
- Kokoda memorial situated at the top of the car park
- Moderate to high level of fitness required
- Steps are cut bluestone steps which can be wet & slippery on a dry day
- Users should wear appropriate footwear
- Toilet facilities available
- No dogs allowed
- Limited parking available at the base or at One Tree Hill
- Playground facilities available
- B.B.Q and picnic areas available
- Café at base of the climb
There is Train services to the Upper Ferntree Gully Station (Belgrave Line) | There is approximately 1 km of walking to the car park entrance. Following Burwood Highway, head east.
The gates to Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground are open 6:00am and 9:00pm
Burwood Highway and Mt Dandenong Tourist Road
Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria 3156
There’s no secret that I love the outdoors and I love to travel. I’m much more comfortable travelling around Australia than around the world. There’s a popular cult song called
“I’ve Been Everywhere“. Its a song which was written by Australian country singer Geoff Mack in 1959, and made popular by Lucky Starr in 1962. This pretty much describes me to a tea. Why go back to the same place year after year when you can continually find new and amazing adventures on your doorstep?
One thing I love to do when I travel is hike. Its easily one of the best ways that you truly get to experience a place. If I wasn’t so actively involved in cycling I would probably go hiking instead. It is one of my favorite pastimes.
Click on any of the links below to read about some of the great hikes I’ve done over the years:
Links to write-ups
My wife & I traveled up to Broken Hill, and took a drive out to Silverton. We stopped to do a mine tour there, & whilst sitting waiting was amazed by the scenery. This was a land that time had forgotten. There were no powerlines. No fences. Everything was flat as far as the eye could see, and we were surrounded by desert. There was something surreal about it & I asked Serena if she’d be happy to stay here and thankfully she said yes.
Silverton was once a mining town. The area was rich in Silver. Now it is a ghost town. There are around 50 permanent residents, and the area is famous for its art galleries & artists. Silverton has been the scene for more than 140 films and commercials thanks to the light, the character-filled colonial buildings and its scenic desert surrounds. Its most famous for scenes from Mad Max 2 being shot in the area, and there is a Mad Max museum in town, which houses props from the movies as well as quite a few cars and two replica Mad Max Interceptors. Other productions filmed here include Razorback, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dirty Deeds, and the Flying Doctors television series.
We had a freaky experience though. I had a white Van tailgaiting me on the day before on the way up to Wentworth for a short while, and he stayed at the Caravan Park we were staying at. Serena & I did a Camel trek at Silverton & as we were riding the Camels, that same white van pulled up in the middle of nowhere near where we were riding our Camels and got out of the Van and pulled some binoculars and looked in our direction. Serena & I love our horrors, and honestly had feelings of De Ja Vu. This was about 2pm in the afternoon. We stayed at the Silverton Caravan park which was the most amazing place. It had its own zoo. At about 7pm that white Van rolls into the Caravan Park and spends the night. There is no slasher ending to this story, but seeing this Van on 4 seperate occasions staying at two separate places was one big coincidence.
We got a tour map which showed all of the historical buildings of interest and just went out for a walk. There were all sorts of interesting sites such as abandoned buildings.
Rusted out cars.
Horses roaming freely.
More abandoned houses.
Then there was the town.
It was 6pm on a Saturday night and you can see how busy it was. There wasn’t a soul to be seen.
We literally had the place to ourselves
A lazy 8km’s covered about everything, and can easily say that it was quite a fascinating experience. Sadly we only had time to spend one night there, but it was memorable experience.
The Cathedral Range is a mountain range that is part of the Great Dividing Range. The range is formed from a 7 kilometres ridge of upturned sedimentary rock, consisting of mainly sandstone & mudstone. This has given the range steep sides, and a narrow razorback ridge. My wife & I camped at the Cathedral Ranges for 4 nights and we had the place to ourselves for most of the time. On the way up to the Ridgeback I was having a blast. The terrain was incredibly hilly and gave me a chance to test out my climbing legs. On the way up I bumped into a guy I knew from Bicycle Superstore in Knox. You can walk through a place like Knox dozens of times and never see anyone you know. Out here in the middle of nowhere what were the odds…..
Our first hike nearly killed us.
I could not have imagined how extreme the climbing was around here. I underestimated how long the hike we were on was, and Serena started to run low on water after 6 km’s. She started to really tire, and had no water. I still had 3/4 of my bottle, so sparingly gave her all of my water over the next 6km’s. Making sure she rationed it.
When I worked out that we were still 6 km’s from camp, and we had the Razorback to climb (see photo above). We had to crawl, climb, scape, jump, amongst other things to get across it. There was no path, there were obstacles.
The views were incredible, but being late January it was extremely hot. There was no shade & we were getting cooked up there. Serena was really doing well considering how hard the trekking was. I was still moving well, but noticed that I was starting to feel dehydrated, but I couldn’t drink my water. I knew that if I did, there was a risk that Serena wouldn’t be able to get down in one piece. So I kept telling her I was fine and insisted she drink.
If I could run down to the tent & fetch some water I could, but we were still at least 5 km’s away from the camp.
I preyed for some running water somewhere, but no luck.
It was such a relief, to finally get to the other side of the Razorback. The hope that kept us going was the fact that it was going to be all downhill from here. Be careful for what you wish for.
That incredibly steep climb we took to get up here, I didn’t factor how hard it would be to physically descend such a steep slope. I had to use so much pressure on my knees. My right leg is a bit bodgy since my Achilles snapped off many years ago, and my legs were pushed to the max. It was a real struggle on the descent, and with about 2 km’s to go started to bonk. I had just hiked close to 5 km’s on a really hot day without any water. Eating the last of the food that I had brought but desperately needed water. My throat was parched, and I had probaby 50ml of water left. I took the tiniest of amounts to give me a tiny bit of fluid in my mouth and made Serena finish the last.
The rest of the descent was a bit of a blur, and I was a bit delerious. We hiked over 12 km’s, and climbed in excess of 620 metres which is the height of Mount Dandenong. Under different circumstances this would have been one of the most incredible hikes that I’ve ever done. In the end I was thankful that we got back in one piece unscathed, & straight to bed.
Our first hike on the Cathedral Ranges killed us. The next day Serena & I could only manage a 4km flat loop around Lake Eildon, & bummed around most of the day around Eildon sightseeing.
The Friday I really pulled something special out. In the morning the weather was horrible and it was wet, cold & windy, and I left at 6:00am to do a 55km loop up around to Alexander. I’ll ride in about anything, but today I didn’t feel it, and heading back towards camp into a head wind. I was soaked to the skin. It was pretty cold, and all I wanted to do was get off the bike into some level of comfort. I was so exhausted that I came back & went straight to sleep for an hour. The day wasn’t looking too good with rain on and off so we drove into Eildon, & before you knew it we had walked 8km’s around the lake & up past the Dam wall which was an incredible walk. I was pretty darned tired after that, & we decided to return to the camp. We had really come to hike around the Cathedral Ranges, so I said that no matter how tired we were we should try for another hike. But not hard……
Do I even know what that means? The weather fined up, and my mojo returned. I honestly started taking us around an easy hike, but that lead to a more interesting path, which in turn led us to the far side of the Ranges up this track called the Messamate Track. Have you ever heard the term bush bashing? Its basically where you have to make your own path. No one had used this track in ages, and it was horribly overgrown, and horribly steep. At times you could barely see the track, and we were constantly pushing ferns out of the way or doing the limbo under some fallen tree. The path was narrow to start with, and a fair bit of it we had to fight our way to get up. My kinda scene. Poor Serena…….. She had a good time, just not as good as me.
This time we brought enough food & water, and somehow smashed out another 12km hike around the Cathedral Ranges. We were lucky as there was a road that led down from the top back to the campsite, so there was no extreme descending today which I found easy. I biked 55km’s, & hiked 20km’s today, in rain, heavy winds, and hacking away at the jungle. This trip easily exceeded my wildest expectations of fun & adventure.
Yet again I went straight to sleep, ready for the next mornings adventure.
You could argue that I’m a sadist. I’m completely exhausted and wasted & I get up at 6:00am to do a 66km loop down to Marysville & completely smash myself the whole way. The scenery was stunning but I was cooked. It was time to go home & we sadly packed our tent. There was no rush to get back & we went for one last hike around the Cathedral Ranges. It was a relatively short walk at 4.6k m’s on compared to what we’ve done was relatively flat, but a beautiful walk.
We stopped at a market in Taggerty before heading to Marysville. I love Marysville. It’s always held this attraction since the very first time I visited it back in 1998. I come up here any chance that I can, and that include visiting Steaphensons Falls. We were buggered and planned on just walking out to the viewing platform.
It was packed, & there were quite a few people climbing to the lookout at the top. I was pretty stuffed, but Serena suggested we head up there and anyone that knows me its easy to twist my arm to go climbing. So we get to the top, and there’s been a bit of developments since we last came here. There was a new track leading from the top. I had a few minutes to wait for Serena so was checking it out for future reference. Serena suggested we do it. Given we ran out of water at the start of the week and that we did not bring adequate supplies with us every sane thought in my head was saying no way. Do not go on this hike.
There’s no way you have the strength to do another 10km hike….
So we head up this track, and it was steep, and it climbed, and it climbed, and it climbed some more. We climbed for over 6 km’s before we got respite, & even I was struggling towards the end. The walk was amazing and I was gobsmacked that I was doing this as it was nuts. When we got to the top the lookout was worth every single, ache, that horrible feeling of fatigue.
For a few minutes we forgot that we were exhausted and enjoyed the moment.
The descent. Now that wasn’t so pleasant. We ran out of food & water. We were exhausted. And the track was 2 km’s longer than we expected, and the return bit hurt.
I was physically wrecked when I got back to the car, and the return trip was a major blur. I rode 66 km’s in the morning in very challenging conditions, spent an hour packing away the tent. Hiked 17 km’s on very hard hiking and drove 120 km’s home. How do I find the energy………
Easy. I don’t save anything for the return journey.
Don’t think I moved much the next day 🙂
Our first stop-off was Kings Canyon. Our tour guide dropped us off at the carpark. I got out & stretched my leg which was stiff & was looking around for the walking track. I had to do a double take when I discovered that the track went straight up the side of this cliff. The stairs were carved into the rocks & it looked very steep. I was not only one of the oldest on the tour, but with my Achilles strained.
This 10 km hike was going to be a major challenge.
Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, and 323 km southwest of Alice Springs. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 metres high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. Part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks. The views were amazing, and I was willing to risk it to get a chance to experience this amazing place.
We walked though jagged rocks, and the monkey in me wished that I could climb. With the state of my health I knew that was impossible. I started to limp and had to pace myself. We came upon a cliff face, and there was no safety fence and well over a 70 metre drop. Our tour guide suggested that we don’t go too close to the edge. The paper work to fill out in the event that someone falls over is quite a lot of work. Which he’d rather not do.
We came to this rock pool where you could swim. It looked an amazing spot so I at least tried. I bombed in & almost leaped out of the water straight away. I could not believe how cold the water felt. Our guide said that it was a constant 10 degrees, but it felt like water that you had just taken the water out of a fridge. I tried to look macho and stay in for a whole 30 seconds before getting out. The warmth of the rocks was quite pleasant compared with that water.
We still had close to 4km’s to walk and I started to struggle. My Achilles got sorer and sorer. They took us to the edge of this cliff where we had our photos taken. It looks more dangerous on the photos than it seemed.
Sadly last year someone fell over the edge & died, and having stood on the same spot got me thinking, and a very sad story for that person’s family & friends.
Funnily enough the last 700 metres, even though it was downhill almost killed me. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg & my Achilles was on fire. It was all downhill, but I had to pull over and rest quite a few times just to get down. I tried to hop on my strong leg at times, but was exhausted and could only hop limited distances. It was an amazing but frustrating experience hiking around Kings Canyon. I was fuming at the fact that I was a cripple. Under normal circumstances would be running circles around everyone there.
Instead I was hobbling at the back of the group with everyone having to wait up for me. Unsure of whether I could make just the final section. It was a very humbling experience. At that time I worried that this may be the only walk that I would be able to do on this tour. My leg was on fire, and I was panicking that my Achilles would snap off again.
I got back to the Van and collapsed, and grabbed ice from one of the Eskis & it was heaven having that ice cool down my poor injury.
We camped in the middle of nowhere that night, and slept in Swagman’s around a massive bonfire, and cooked up damper. It was only 5 degrees overnight, but surprisingly I had one of the best sleeps in that Swagman. You put your shoes under the Swagman to act as a pillow. I was nice & warm inside. Serena didn’t enjoy it though & was quite cold throughout the night. It was a highlight lying in the Swagman, staring up at a million stars overhead. I barely survived today. I was curious how my leg would pull up for tomorrow’s slog around the Ulga’s.
We were touring Litchfield National Park. Which is a National Park in the Northern Territory which is about 1,500 square km in distance. We had rented 4WD which was spotless when we got it with only 6km on the clock. Part of the fine print stated that the vehicle wouldn’t be insured if it were taken off road. Which I cheekily did to visit the Lost city, and amazing rock formation at Litchfield.
We saw the most impressive waterfalls throughout the park, and when we stopped at the Wangi Falls the skies opened up. The Wangi Falls have an impressive 50 metre waterfall. When we saw a walking track to the top even though it was raining couldn’t help ourselves.
Serena brought her umbrella and I just got soaked.
Of the hikes I’ve done, this is probably the one that I regret most. The first half went well, but as we neared the top the rain hit monsoon type rain. It was a warm day so there was no dramas about being cold. But I had never been so saturated and my clothes were weighing me down. We got to the top and there was no view which was a bit of a letdown. The rain got worse and as we hit the descent the path was all wet & muddy. I had no problems negotiating the track, but my poor wife is a little more delicate than me.
Paranoid about slipping and was going at a snails pace which meant that the idiot with no umbrella was getting drowned.
Normally I’d be happy to wait around to make sure that she was safe, but she had the umbrella and I was standing around for long minutes. Stopping every 50 metres or so to stop to help her descend a tricky section of track. I was drowned, tired, hungry and wishing I had never ever attempted this walk.
It was a major relief to get back to the car to get a change of clothes. We probably ruined the interior being as soaked as we were. It had been raining for an hour at that stage, and we had two options to get back. 200 km’s to backtrack down the road we came. Or there was a dirt road that was only 130 km’s.
For the second time that day I made a decision that I wished I hadn’t.
The 4WD was not insured when we hit the dirt road and it was raining quite heavily. Thankfull I’m really good at driving in the wet. Visibility was poor and I could barely see in front of the 4WD but I had no dramas. The road started to fill with potholes from the crazy rain we were driving in. I had to start dodging and weaving these holes and parts of the road were under water. About 25 km there was a river in the middle of the road.
It was about 5 metres wide and not overly deep, and I did have a 4WD after all. But the funny thing was this was the first time that I had ever driven a 4WD so had no idea what the hell they could do. I had two options to drive back what now would have to be 225 km or I could ford the river and keep going.
How I wish I could go back in time & tell my idiotic self to turn that 4WD around.
We got across the river ok, but the rain crazily enough picked up worse than before. More & more of the road was underwater. I was getting alarm bells when I noticed signs to the side of the road to measure flood levels with most of the signs going to 3 metres in height.
I couldn’t avoid several deep potholes and the 4WD would suddenly crash a foot or so and I hoped not to bog the car in. There was no option to turn back now and we were screwed. I realised that we were in the middle of a flood, and also in Crocodile territory. Silently I was crapping myself and I didn’t want to worry Serena. Casually mentioning that maybe she should write in our diary which she did. It took her eyes off the road, and thankfully couldn’t see the dangers. It was incredibly dark outside and I could barely see anything over the front of the bonnet.
Since I could barely see, in the conditions I should have been driving at 20 km/h, but had to get out of this hell and was pushing 60.
Water and mud were flying everywhere and this brand new 4WD was not so new anymore.
I was wondering how I was going to come up with the money to pay for the damages that I was surely doing to this 4WD. I forded two more rivers, and on either side of the road was seeing a river appear. We were f@#d if we couldn’t get out of here. If we got trapped we could be stuck here for quite awhile (with Crocodiles around). I knew that a number of drivers die up here in floods every year.
I had been driving ¾ hour into this hell when we came to a small metal bridge. The water was probably 10 cm from the base of the bridge and the river was about to burst its banks. I had a vision of flood waters washing us over as we tried to cross, and really just sucked it up. If we had come to this bridge minutes later I would have haphazard that it would have been underwater.
We would have been trapped on the wrong side.
It was a relief to get over the bridge, and as suddenly as the storm started the storm stopped. We kept driving for awhile till we were out of the danger zone, and notice that the road dried up pretty quickly. We got out of the 4WD and I was freaked to see it covered from head to toe in mud. Worse was that we had to drop it off overnight so couldn’t do a change-over. Clearly we had taken it off road and wouldn’t know if the company was going to penalise me. We found a Safeway car wash on the way back and sprayed off the car as best as we could. Which calmed me down a little, but it still had a layer of dirt on it. I had a really restless night that night.
I was really expecting to get a call over the next couple of days.
The day could have gotten worse as when I went to fill up the 4WD without thinking I put Unleaded into it. Thankfully Serena yelled out “it takes Diesel doesn’t it?”. Luckily only about half a litre went in. I’ve done some classic things with rental cars but this took the cake. I’ve had my sense of adventures over the years, and we did some amazing things today, but I’ve never been so thankful that nothing went wrong.
Kata Tjuta aka “The Olga’s”
My Achilles pulled up tight, but I could put weight on it and was able to walk. Today’s hike around the Ulga’s was going to be another really tough one at 10 km’s.
Kata Tjuta are a group of large domed rock formations. Located about 365 km southwest of Alice Springs and is about 25 km from Ayers Rock. The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta cover an area of 21.68 km2. I knew that I was risking so much walking but wanted to give it a shot. I really had to pace myself better today. And was always out the back of the group. The scenery was amazing. I probably didn’t enjoy myself as much as at King’s Canyon, as I had to focus so hard on my leg. The whole walk was dominated by my walking. Keeping as much weight off my bad leg as possible.
I still managed to get some decent snaps along the way. With regular rest stops felt confident in getting through this walk. You could argue that I was being both brave & stupid risking so much to do these walks. But this was my only opportunity to ever experience this. Serena was tremendous in helping me along the walk. Letting me put some of my weight on her at times to help support me walk.
These past two days had been such a painful experience for me. It almost bought a tear to my eye that I did them. I have been a cripple for such a long-time. Having ruptured my Achilles had robbed me of so much. To have the strength to get out there and say “screw you. I’m no longer let myself be down!”.
On to Ayers Rock
We headed on towards Ayers Rock and witnessed a magnificent sunset. We also got a call from my brother letting us know that they had baby number 2 on the way. What an amazing way to end the day. Unfortunately the tour guide took us to buy Alcohol today, & the party was in full swing. I managed to head straight to sleep mainly due to my exhaustion. Getting woken at 1:00am in the morning to a drunk Irish lout dancing and singing at the top of his lungs. I managed to get straight back to bed, and wondered how my leg would stand. Could I do round three and pull off the improbable and be able to do another massive walk around Ayers Rock?
We awoke before 5am. For all those who stayed up drinking till the wee hours of the morning I had no sympathy. The sunrise was amazing, and like the day before my leg felt sore but stronger. I knew like the past two days that it wasn’t a smart move, but I was going to try walking around Ayers Rock. The one thing that really nagged at me was that there was a climb you could do to the top of Ayers Rock. I knew eventually this would be shut down. Climbing is a love of mine and this would easily have gone down as one of my all-time experiences.
My sore Achilles had other ideas, and it really pained me that I couldn’t do it. I vowed that one day if I could get over all this pain, and lack of fitness that one day I’d get my fitness back and be strong once again. It was a dream.
Unlike the past two days this walk was 100% flat which was welcome news for my leg. I needed to stop at every single bench that we came upon, and was thankful that Serena was so patient with me keeping up with her.
Ayers Rock was amazing to see so close up.
All you see in the photos are the rock itself. Close up there are all these amazing rock formations surrounding it, and caves and fissures. You feel so small walking around it, and you can sense the spirits of old in the air. I was walking so slow today but I didn’t care. It was all about enjoying the moment. I was doing one of the most amazing walks in the country. Proud to have endured all of the pain that I had gone through. It felt as if I had lost everything rupturing my Achilles Tendon, and everything that I did since was a bonus.
We got to the tourist centre & I needed a lengthy rest there before we headed off for the last part of the walk. This was the shortest and easiest of the 3 walks, but I felt most drained afterwards. We headed back to Alice Springs and arrived just as the sun was setting. We didn’t really talk with anyone else on the tour, but I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with Serena. And very thankful that she helped me throughout my troubles.
This trip to the Territory was one of the most amazing experiences that we had ever done. One that I would highly recommend to any adventure seeker. The warmth & hospitality of the locals has been amazing and we would definitely come back here in a heartbeat.