1000 Steps Walking Track / Kokoda Memorial Trail
The 1000 Steps / Kokoda Memorial track was built in the early 1900s, as a memorial and reminder of the famous Thousand Steps track in Papua New Guinea, location of the World War 2 battle in 1942.
The Thousand Steps-Kokoda memorial walk is the busiest hike in the Dandenong Ranges. It is a stunning walk, steep, narrow and not quite 1000 steps. Many people use the track as a fitness challenge but it deserves respect, this is an important memorial and the signage along the way is well worth pausing to read.
An alternative challenge to walking the 1000 Steps is the Fire Trail /Glasgow Track. It goes straight up the mountain to the summit of Mt Dandenong. No steps, just lots of rocks to clamber over and some great views too.
Getting to the Thousand Steps
We encourage the use of public transport to visit the 1000 Steps, Melbourne, the hiking notes below detail how easy it is to make a day trip (or overnight stay) to the Dandenong Ranges, hiking the Thousand steps as well as visiting the villages of the Dandenongs, perhaps going to the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens or the Mt Dandenong Lookout and more.
The track is used by a variety of people, some in a hurry to beat their own personal goals, locals, and tourists all out for a bushwalk in the forest, so close to Melbourne.
It is easy to despise the thought of this walk as it is so busy, thousands of people walk here weekly. However, to be on the track and see the enthusiasm of walkers, some new to the experience and others seasoned ‘1000 steppers’ is an event in itself. A quieter walk nearby, yet still a challenge, Bellview Terrace or try ‘True Grit‘ on the other side of the mountain.
Watch our short video of the complete 1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges
Dandenong Ranges 1000 Steps – Questions & Answers
- How long does it take to walk the 1000 Steps? This depends on your fitness level and if you want to read the Kokoda Memorial plaques along the way. It can take from about 20 minutes to an hour.
- Can I take my dog to the 1000 Steps? No, it is part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, and dogs are not allowed. We do have plenty of dog-friendly walking tracks and cafes (as well as one of the best ever off-leash walks) in the Dandenongs though, find them here.
- Where are the 1000 Steps? 1000 Steps address: 1000 Steps, Ferntree Gully National Park Corner of Burwood Highway and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Upper Ferntree Gully. See directions and parking notes below.
- Are there really One Thousand Steps? No, not quite… read the walking track notes below to find out how many steps we counted… Even though you may feel ‘short-changed’ about the lack of one thousand steps actually being an accurate description, by the time you get to the top you will feel like you have actually walked 1000 Steps!
- What is the nearest city to the 1000 Steps Melbourne is the nearest major city.
History of the Thousand Steps Walking Track
Built in the early 1900s, the Dandenong Ranges 1000 Steps originally used the trunks of tree ferns as steps in the wetter sections and bare earth for the rest of the walk. Timber and concrete now form the steps and most of the pathway.
The 1000 Steps walk is a memorial to the soldiers of WW2 who lost their lives on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. 13 Memorial plaques are alongside the track, it is well worth pausing to read the stories. More plaques at the top of the Kokoda Memorial walk depict the local soldiers who fought in the war.
Each plaque has a brief history of a particular battle and a map showing where it took place on the Kokoda Track. The Kokoda Track memorial plaques, added to the Dandenong Ranges track in 1997, are replicas of those now on the actual Kokoda Track.
Parking at 1000 Steps, Dandenong
Parking by the 1000 steps, Dandenong Ranges, can be a nightmare. Seriously. The car park seems quite sufficient for a good number of cars but it very quickly fills up with walkers and people there for picnics, the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road is often very congested with cars parked along the roadside (watch out for the no-parking signs and park correctly as fines are imposed).
Another easy, alternative way to reach the Thousand Steps Walk in the Dandenong Ranges is to use public transport…
Getting to the Thousand Steps Walk by Train from Melbourne
To reach the Dandenong Ranges National Park and the famous One Thousand steps walk by public transport from Melbourne, catch a train on the Belgrave Line and get off at the Upper Ferntree Gully Station. From there, walk to the left along the Burwood Highway for about 1 km to the park entrance or get on bus route 688 and hop off at the first stop, right outside the Dandenong Ranges National Park and as close to the start of the 1000 Steps as you can get.
Getting to the 1000 Steps walk from the Dandenongs
For anyone living or staying in the Dandenongs, it is easy to catch a bus down the hill to walk the steps. Get off at the bus stop right outside the National Park, ask the driver if you are not sure where to get off.
Where to eat near the 1000 Steps, Dandenong Ranges
There is a cafe in the park, see the menu choices and check opening hours here. Opposite the train station in Upper Ferntree Gully, there is a good choice of cafes, bakery, chocolate shop…
There is a good picnic ground in the National Park with tables and shelters, bring some lunch and enjoy walking the Thousand Steps and having lunch in the park.
Carrying water on the 1000 Steps walk is not necessary as drinking fountains and water bottle refill stations are at the base of the walk and at the top of the thousand steps.
THE HIKE: WALKING UP THE 1000 STEPS
There is little chance of getting lost, the signs are so clear after walking through the main entrance. It can take from about 15 minutes to walk to the top, for anyone super fit and up for the challenge or about an hour if you are stopping to read the plaques along the way and taking in the beauty of the native forest.
A few seats are available on the track to rest weary bones or to simply take a break and relax…
Once we reached the top of the steps we followed Poachers Track to head down the hill to Tremont and catch a bus into Sassafras for afternoon tea (Olinda and Mt Dandenong Village are the next bus stops along the way). More details below.
Step by Step up the Kokoda Memorial Track / 1000 Steps
Step No. 780 – The top! So much for the Thousand Steps!
At the top of the 1000 Steps hike there are some more interesting historical plaques to read, seats to rest upon, cooling down/warming up exercise area and drinking fountains.
Nearest public toilets – at One Tree Hill, about 10 minutes walk further on.
Three choices of further paths to take:
- Lyrebird Track which goes back down to the entrance.
- Keep on walking up to One Tree Hill.
- or take Poachers Track and walk down to catch a bus at Tremont (the way we went).
Catching a Bus from Tremont to Sassafras and beyond
At the top of the steps we took Poacher’s Track to the right, it is a very short walk to Churchill Drive.
Turning left on Churchill Drive, walk about 60 metres before crossing the road to the top of Titania Crescent, then walk down the Crescent, which is an unsealed road, and come out at the Dandenong Tourist Road in Tremont where there is a bus stop on Route 688 (Upper Ferntree Gully Station to Croydon service).
The bus passes through Sassafras, Olinda, Mount Dandenong and Kalorama.
Check the PTV website for bus timetables and public transport options in the Hills.
Walking into Sassafras rather than catching the bus
The walk into Sassy from the top of the 1000 Steps walk will take about 30-40 mins. From the top of the Steps, walk up the hill to One Tree Hill Road, turn right and follow the road all the way down to join the Tourist Road, turn left and follow the footpath into Sassy.
Hike Mount Dandenong 1000 Steps Walk and Stay Overnight.
How about making the 1000 Steps walk into an overnight hiking trip? Put on a day pack, leave the car behind and come to the hills by public transport. There is such a large choice of accommodation up here for singles, couples, families, and groups.
- Sassafras and the surrounding villages have plenty of lovely places to stay.
- How about staying in a vintage caravan with walking trails from the front gate and a short walk to the fabulous Pig & Whistle Tavern in Olinda?
- Search Booking .com for other unique places to stay.
Air BnB in the Dandenong Ranges
We are spoilt for choice with so many places to stay in the Hills. Air BnB accommodation listings offer so many hidden gems to discover. Cottages, cabins, entire homes, rooms, caravans, historic properties and more. These are some of our favourites.
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