The 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk in Upper Ferntree Gully is a place of pilgrimage for those determined to prove (or improve) their fitness
Twitchers, travellers, picnickers and bucket list-ers from across the city make the breathless march up this stony memorial that was named for a bloody killing field. Actually attempting to count the 1000 steps as you trudge up is near-impossible as blood, sweat and adrenalin do battle over your brain. (They reckon there are only 770, anyway.) Easier, but more depressing, is counting how many times some hot young thing in lycra laps you on your 1.5 km ascent.
The 1000 Steps were created in the early 1900s, before Kokoda veterans adopted the area in 1998, as a memorial to 625 Australian soldiers killed on the Papua New Guinean track in World War II. Recently, concerns that joggers were jostling out veterans prompted the Victorian Government to build an alternative fitnesstrack. It’s part of a brand-new $1 million upgrade.
Not feeling too athletic? The area is surrounded by skyscraping gums and there’s no shortage of lush picnic spots. The Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group has been spying on impressive native birds since 1958. With fancy tails and distinctive calls, lyrebirds are tricky to spot amidst the ferns, but the group reports population numbers have doubled in the past decade.
Head to Parks Victoria for details about where to hit the trail.