Hiking the 1000 steps in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges

1000 steps Kokoda Memorial

The 1000 steps is well renowned in Melbourne for being a place where the fittest of the fit go to test their mettle each weekend. It’s located in the Dandenongs, and is a memorial walk (I use the word walk very loosely!) dedicated to the memory of the Australian soldiers that served in Papua New Guinea on the Kokoda trail. The trail is 5km up and back, and Ash and I thought it would be a good short training hike to help us prepare for the Everest Base Camp trek.

The first weekend that we decided to give it a go, we were both suffering from a pretty nasty cold that was going around. I made the decision that we were going to go and give it a try anyway, as I’d made a commitment to myself that I was doing a training hike that weekend and was determined not to back out given that Everest was getting closer and closer by the day.

So off we drove to the Dandenongs, and soon found ourselves standing at the memorial statue at the base of the hill, watching the many people just starting or completing their walk. There was a whole range of ages and fitness levels, so we figured that even though we were sick, we should be able to make it to the top easily.

1000 steps track start
The start of the track – it’s much steeper than it looks here!

How wrong we were. The path was steeper that I had ever imagined, and very soon my lungs were burning with every step and my heart was beating out of my chest. Ash and I looked at each other struggling, and decided to take a rest stop, feeling very inferior as sprightly grandparents raced past us. We continued struggling along, taking regular rests and hoping that the gradient of the path would flatten out. Once we reached the 1km mark, we had to admit defeat. We were exhausted, and had to come to the realisation that it just wasn’t our day, particularly in the sickly condition we were both in. We were determined to come back and make it to the top though!

Fast forward to 2 weeks later, and we again stood at the bottom of the track, looking up with trepidation. I was bit nervous that we wouldn’t make it all the way to the top of the 1000 steps again even though we were fully fit this time. Maybe we just weren’t fit enough and we wouldn’t make it all the way up to Everest Base Camp.

1000 steps

Those fears were soon put to rest as we started climbing up the track. It was a lot easier this time, and I found that we did not need to stop anywhere near as much to catch our breath. I was so pleased, it really felt like all the early mornings we’d been spending training were worth it. We made it up to the top with little trouble, and had lunch in the glorious late winter sun lying in the grass at the picnic ground there.

The descent gave us little trouble as well, and we were feeling ready to take on the world! It was amazing to see the improvement in our fitness, having kicked our illness and started training hard. We’ll soon see if it was all enough to prepare us for Everest!

Have you been to the 1000 steps? How many attempts did it take you to reach the top?

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2 Replies to “Hiking the 1000 steps in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges”

  1. I’m glad that you went back and achieved your goal! You should feel very accomplished! I’m sure you’ll be fine for Everest! 🙂

    1. Thanks! I was determined to not let it beat me!

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