Hiking in the Dandenongs


1000 Steps Kokoda Walk

This past weekend I went on a hike at Dandenong Ranges National Park. The Dandenong Ranges National Park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city or university life. There are also picnic grounds and barbeques located at the base of the park.

I went on the 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk located in Ferntree Gully. We got off at the Upper Fern Tree Gully train stop, which is about a 40-minute train ride from Glenferrie Station. The start of the trail is a short ten-minute walk from Upper Ferntree Gully station, which is extremely convenient. The 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk is an ultra steep, 1.5 to 2-hour trek. The trip is just about under two miles and is great exercise, but definitely not recommended for people who cannot handle strenuous, physical activity. The trail is truly an amazing and beautiful site. You feel completely lost and somewhat dissociated because it does not feel as if you are in Melbourne anymore.

The 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk was originally constructed with tree trunks to ease the 290-meter ascent. Wooden and concrete steps have since replaced the tree trunks in order for all year access to be possible. There are plaques on the trail that memorialize the soldiers whose lives were taken while fighting on the actual Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea during World War II. The actual Kokoda Trail was the site of battle between Japan and Australia in 1942. The purposefully arduous climb up the steps are supposed to illustrate the extremely tiring and strenuous labor of the Australian soldiers.

Dandenong Ranges National Park itself is split up into five parts: Doongalla Forest, Ferntree Gully, Mount Evelyn Forest, Olinda Forest, and Sherbrooke Forest. The SkyHigh lookout is located in the Doongalla Forest. I have heard that it is definitely one THE places to go to while staying in Melbourne. I have yet to visit the lookout, so I cannot confirm that just yet! The lookout is accessible by bus from Upper Fern Tree Gully train stop, which is great if you do not have access to a car. There are plenty of other day walks and hikes that you can take in the Dandenongs. They’re budget friendly and incredibly fun ways to spend a day in Melbourne.

Bring lots of water, a snack, and wear comfortable shoes! Maybe even some food to have a nice barbeque—or “barbie” as the Australians like to call it.