Update 29/02/2012 - I was probably a bit lax when writing this about where the Thousand steps are for those of you whom aren’t from around melbourne. Follow this link, substituting “Melbourne” for your location: Click here for directions
Perhaps the most famous walk in the Dandenong’s, the Kokoda memorial track is quite often referred to as the “thousand steps”. This trail is to commemorate the sacrifices made by our Soldiers during the Second world-war in particular along the Kokoda trail in Papua new Guinea. The first time you visit, take the time time to read the 14 plaques that are set along the trail which can give you some more insight into our forbearers and what they did for you and I.
An interesting fact for you, There is a Japanese report that went through after the first battle in Kokoda, where the Japanese commander suggested based on his considerable losses that there must have been more than 1200 Australians defending an Air-strip. In-Fact, there were just 77 as no re-enforcements were able to land from Port Moresby.
The Thousand steps walk itself requires moderate fitness; the Kokoda memorial track walks on a gentle incline for about 800m to the base of the steps. The steps themselves are a mix of size and length, they’re a great exercise no matter who you are, it is known to be one of the more popular spots in Melbourne for fitness training. The scenery along the steps is great, and if you have the breath its worth taking a look around at the familiar foliage that shades the steps. There are warning signs along the track that suggest the steps could be slippery when wet, don’t let your hiking boots deceive you the steps can become very slippery after even a small amount of rain. Once you reach the top, you have a few options, you can head back down the steps, the way you came; or you can head down Lyrebird track. I decided that Lyrebird track was the way to go for me, as there had been a pattering of rain and I didn’t fancy heading back down the steps and bruising my bum when I slipped. Lyrebird track is very steep, I wont lie; my glutes were definitely sore the next day from the decent. As long as you take your time, you wont have any problems, so its worth knowing your limits on this one.
The whole walk took me just on 45mins, and that was with a reasonable rest at the top and pretty much my standard pace walking. In all, I had quite a good time and I would strongly recommend this walk to anybody who is thinking about doing a bit of walking out on the east side of Melbourne, or training for something like the Inca trail / Cradle mountain which have a high number of steps cut into rock, as this is a great chance to increase your fitness for sharper incline walking.