You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person to have heard about the 1000 steps at Dandenong Ranges National Park. Each weekend it will draw a crowd of Melbourne visitors who are seeking the fabulous views from the top of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, the diverse wildlife and a fitness challenge along the way. We have ventured to the 1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges destination many times and have had a different experience each time.
Here is your complete guide to visiting the iconic 1000 Steps Dandenong with Kokoda Memorial Walk photos, transport details and more!
The history of Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway
The Kokoda Track Memorial is a homage to the track of the same name in New Guinea, which set the scene in WWII where Australian soldiers were outnumbered by Japanese soldiers’ advances. Kokoda Memorial Track is also a vastly steep terrain in New Guinea also, and many Australians actually use the 1000 Steps in Melbourne as training to conquer the 96km Kokoda Track loop in New Guinea (as well as other walking challenges). Both sites are visited during memorials dates to pay tribute to these Australian soldiers, and the beauty of the track is a reflective activity for past and present soldiers and their families.
While the 1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges climb was constructed in the early 1900s and reinforced in the 1950s, it was adopted by Kokoda Track campaign veterans to serve as the memorial site. There is a Kokoda Track Memorial statue in the Ferntree Gully One Tree Hill Picnic Ground which honours ‘ courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice’.
1000 Steps Dandenong address and track details
To reach the 1000 Steps of Melbourne, you will need to head to the Ferntree Gully One Tree Hill Picnic Ground which is located to the left of Mt Dandenong Tourist Road. Park in the picnic ground and then you can start your walk towards the stone archway that marks the start of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. You will be walking past the BBQ stations and picnic tables to get to the arch, and you will also see the playground area and the Living Bush Nature Walk on the right which might interest anyone in your group not up to the 1000 Steps.
The 1000 Steps Ferntree Gully address is Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground, Tremont. The Melbourne 1000 Steps Dandenong track is a 10.6km loop and it’s a moderate-hard grade.
Be sure to enter this 1000 Steps Ferntree Gully address into Google Maps or Apple Maps as you might be directed to the other side of the street. The Tree Furn Gully Track and the 1000 Step Track make up the 3km return Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. Before you start the ascent, you will find the Lyrebird Track on the left and Ramblers Track Loop on the right, with the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk 1000 Steps in the middle.
The first time we came here we didn’t know which one to walk up and which one to walk down. We ended up walking up Lyrebird Track, mostly a concrete ramp, and then came down Ramblers Track Loop – with 1000 Steps in between. Head toward the 1 000 Steps Dandenong track and hit the other tracks on your next visit!
Be sure to check out Parks Victoria for more tips and directions.
Image from Google 360 View, showing the path directs at the start of the track
The best time to do the 1000 Steps Dandenong at Ferntree Gully
Ideally, any time you can get there is the right time to do the 1000 Steps at Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway. That said, weekends can be extremely busy which makes it hard to get a park at the picnic ground parking lot. It’s not just the parking lot that will be congested, as you might find lots of people taking on the track and you may have to wait for fellow walkers to pass before you navigate those narrower paths. The terrain in some of the areas will simply not accommodate walkers doing up and down the track. This is especially true if there are lots of people seriously training for a walk on the steps.
The best time to do the 1000 Steps in Melbourne is in the morning and on a wet sort of day. This will make the greenery absolutely glisten and you will be able to see the mist cover from the picnic ground through to the peak to the walkway. It makes for a very magical experience and a great photo opportunity for any amateur photographer. The trees in and around the walkway are large timber trees that create a great tree cover, keeping you dry from the rain. Although be careful on the steps if they are moss-covered.
How to get to 1000 Steps Dandenong Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
There is a couple of ways to get to 1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges, but a car is going to be the most direct route from Melbourne. You can park for free at the picnic ground parking lot. If you would prefer to take the train, you can get off at the Fern Tree Gully Station and then walk via the School Track to Fern Tree Gully Picnic Ground (which is about 1.3km away.)
There are many rest stops on the way to 1 000 Steps Dandenong and throughout the many tracks, so you can stop and regain your energy or just take in the sights!
Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway wildlife and flora
We were fortunate enough to see a Lyre Bird when we visited Melbourne’s 1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges, and it was very close to the track and clearly not phased by the people passing by. We did not hear the lyre Bird showcase its incredible imitation skills, but we saw it digging and making a comfortable place to sit. You might also get to see a white cockatoo, kookaburra or Crimson Rosellas!
The diverse plant life at Kokoda Track Walk will amaze any visitor, with all shapes and sizes of foliage all of it looking beautiful and moist fom the forest-like atmosphere. The grassy eucalyptus forest smells fantastic, and there are natural streams running through the plant life in perfect harmony. There is a beautiful winter and spring flower called the Early Nancy which can be identified by its purple rings.
Making a day out of the 1000 Steps in Melbourne
Packing a picnic and leaving it in your car while you take on 1000 Steps Dandenong is a great way to cap off the day. If you don’t want to bring a picnic with you, head to the Three Tree Frogs Cafe or the 1000 Steps Cafe for a bite to eat and a hot coffee. These grounds are huge and there is enough room for even the biggest crowds, and plenty of space and playgrounds to occupy the kids.
Have you got to 1 000 Steps Dandenong and testes your endurance? We love this spot and will often take our visiting friends and family who are not native to Victoria and haven’t seen this understated destination. Be sure to check out our other Melbourne Travel hot spots.