Located within the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the 1000 steps is more of a hike than a walk. It’s 2.5 km or 1.6 miles in each direction (up and down!) It’s great exercise, simple to get to and the steps themselves are made from concrete with railings attached.
1000 Steps Dandenong Snapshot
Arriving at the 1000 Steps Walk
Between the two car parks, you’ll find the 1000 Steps cafe.
The 1000 Steps begin at the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, under the Kokoda Memorial Archway. It is only 38 km (23 miles) from central Melbourne. As you pass the archway you will see a playground on the right. Beyond this playground is a memorial to “the fallen of the units who took the initial onslaught on the Kokoda Track.”
There is also an amphitheater with a display wall explaining the Kokoda Track Campaign in 192 and 1943 in Papua New Guinea during WWII.
Opening Hours of 1000 Steps Walk
The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is open from 6 am until 9 pm, every day of the year.
1000 Steps Dandenong Map
Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
The walk was created to recreate the courage of those who fought for their country in Papua New Guinea in the Second World War in incredibly difficult terrain. It is often used as a training ground for tourists preparing to hike the real Kokoda Trail. It is modeled on 2000 steps cut by the Australian soldiers between Imita Ridge and Uberi in Central Province, Papua New Guinea, 36 km east of the capital, Port Moresby.
The ascent is 290 meters or 0.18 miles and has been climbed since the early 1900s when logs cut from fern trees were used to make the track easier to use. Now concrete and wooden steps and an unpaved road have been added to make the hike easier, safe, and fun among the thick forest of gum and fern trees.
It’s possible to continue from the summit on the Lyrebird Track or to One Tree Hill, 800 meters (half a mile) further on. The Lyrebird Track will is an unsealed road that leads back to the entrance of the walk and the carpark. It is the easiest and fastest way to return.
It is also possible to do the 1000 Steps Walk in reverse by parking at the One Tree Hill picnic ground and walking to the top of the walk then descending the stairs.
The walk begins following a stream at the bottom of a fern gully. Along the walk are plaques marking different milestones and significant events and people of the Kokoda Trail Campaign during the Second World War.
The steps begin shortly after you have begun and there is a handrail, occasional benches to rest on, as well as small clearings where you can allow joggers and groups to pass. You can also pretend to be admiring the view if you simply need to suck in deep lungfuls of air to get your breath back!
The stairs become steeper shortly before the end of the Walk and you can see through the trees to farmlands and bodies of water below. It makes you realize how quickly you have ascended 290 meters.
After a rain, the steps are muddy and can be a little slippery, especially the top sections, and when many people have gone ahead of you that day.
Check out this 11-second grab of a hiker walking up the lower sections of the 1000 Steps Dandenong Walk.
The Summit and Lyrebird Track
When you finally arrive at the end of the 1000 Steps Walk you find yourself in a clearing with nothing to see, other than other tracks branching off. Parallel to the 1000 Steps walk is an unsealed road called the Lyrebird Track. Beside the track are concrete steps – much less steep than the 1000 Steps, but it is simpler most of the time to walk on the road itself.
The walk down is comparatively fast and easy and soon you will find yourself back at the car park.
How to get to 1000 Steps Dandenong
The easiest way to get to the 1000 Steps is by car, which probably explains why there are large car parks at the site. The turnoff to the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is at the corner of the Burwood Highway and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
By public transport, simply take the Belgrave line from Melbourne and get off at Upper Ferntree Gully Station. From there it is an 800-meter walk to the car parks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take my dog?
No. Pets are not allowed.
How long does it take to walk the 1000 Steps in Dandenong?
The Parks Victoria signboards at the 1000 Steps suggest that it will take 40 mins. This is about right, but it is also a few hundred meters from the car parks and a further 100 meters to the Kokoda Memorial Walk.
Is the 1000 Steps hard?
If you are fit, then it is not hard and many people run and jog the 1000 Steps Dandenong Walk. If you are very unfit, it can be a challenge. People of all fitness levels certainly successfully complete the Walk. Many people take it slow and stop frequently along the way. Many children do it and I have seen older people with walking sticks make the walk. If you are worried about it, just take a few rest stops along the way.
Where is the 1000 Steps?
The 1000 Steps is in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, in the suburb of Ferntree Gully, Melbourne. The entrance to the Kokoda Memorial Walking Track is at the corner of Burwood Highway and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
How high is the 1000 Steps in Ferntree Gully?
The elevation of the 1000 steps in Ferntree Gully 290 meters or 0.18 miles.
Do I have to walk back down the steps again?
No, the Lyrebird Track is an unsealed road that runs beside the 1000 Steps Walk back to the car park and cafe. At the top of the Walk, you will see the signs pointing downwards to the Lyrebird Track.
Can I go onwards from the summit?
Yes, One Hill Tree Picnic Ground and Memorial is a 15-minute walk as is well signposted.
Walks and Weekend Stays in the Dandenongs
Best Accommodation in the Dandenongs near 1000 Steps can be found in the nearby charming villages of Sassafras (the picture above) and Olinda. Check out my favorite ones below, they have exceptional ratings and they are in great locations for exploring the villages of the Dandenongs and the many walks of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. The very best thing about this part of the world is walking in the forests during the day, exploring the villages and wineries, and then retreating to a cottage and its open fire in the evening!
Best Dandenongs Airbnb Stays
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Links and Further Information
- For other great day trips to Melbourne, see my blog post on wonderful walks and hikes to the east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Mountains and Yarra Ranges here
- For 5 great reasons to visit the village of Gembrook in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, see my blog post here
- Millionaire’s Walk is another fantastic walk close to Melbourne that showcases the beauty of the Mornington Peninsula but is an easy walk: Millionaire’s Walk: Portsea Mansions on Port Phillip Bay
- The other part of Melbourne environs for great walks is the other side of Melbourne’s coastline: the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. Get my Great Ocean Road Holiday Complete Planning Guide here. Where to Stay on your Great Ocean Road Holiday? See my Ultimate Guide to Great Ocean Road Accommodation here for where to stay on your trip, and check out these itineraries from one day to one week here: Great Ocean Road Itinerary.
- For other wonderful destination information when you are planning your Australian holiday, see my Australia destinations page here
- More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, accommodation, and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page
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