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 The path was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb a little easier.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