I got there at 8:15am. Apparently that makes me a late starter, as the large car park was already full and there were many more cars parked lining the neighbouring streets. I ended up parking about 500m away.
|This is just one section of a full car park|
With so many cars on hand it came as no surprise that the track was very busy. It was a bit daunting really as my walking is almost always a solitary affair. Still, it made for interesting listening.
In the flat section before the steps I passed a couple of middle aged blokes engaged in an in-depth discussion about some sort of property contract negotiations. A little further on I passed a couple of teenage girls, enjoying an animated chat about the new job one of them has just started.
Once I hit the steps however, the conversations changed somewhat: Not far from the start, a man was telling his wife to walk on the left. At about the 50 step mark I overhead another man telling his partner that "there should be a bench just a little further up". By the 100 step mark, there weren't many conversations at all - just lots of people puffing along, each absorbed in a private battle to get to the top.
Originally the steps were made from tree trunks, then later wooden palings. These days the steps are mostly concrete, with a metal hand rail to take some of the load of the aching quads. They are quite steep and walking the 1000 Steps is a serious challenge! So serious, in fact, that I got so caught up in the climb, I forgot to take any photos! Which was a shame as the bush around the trail was stunning. My apologies for this omission, dear reader, but if you must see pics of the steps, have a look at the gazillion photos taken by other visitors.
While the actual Kokoda Trail in PNG runs for 96 kms, the local version is a tad under 1.5km. Most people who walk the Memorial Trail will be grateful for the shorter distance as the entire walk involves climbing steps. (Not actually 1000 it seems - more like 770. But hey - who's counting?! I wasn't. I was too busy huffing and puffing like everybody else.) For me this was definitely intended as a hard work-out and I was determined to walk the steps in one hit - which I did, though I did have some extra motivation, in the form of a pretty young thing, who came up behind me. The prospect of being passed by said PYT was just too much to bear for my frail male ego and, with a surge of testosterone I powered ahead, ignoring protests from my lungs, heart and legs. In the end, I completed the climb in 30 minutes.
|The resting area at the top of "the steps"|
After a short rest I made my way the short distance to One Tree Hill Picnic Ground, then continued on to do a 5km loop back to the car park, on wide, well maintained paths, through beautiful, open bush. It was very pleasant and peaceful. I met only a few people on this section - a total contrast to the hectic traffic of the steps.
|The new Barmah hat.|
The key facts:
Distance: 7.5 km
Time: 1 hour 45mins. (Those with moderate fitness should knock this over in about 2 hours. If you're a slow walker, or are likely to be buggered for a while from the steps climb or you are taking younger children, you should allow 2.5-3 hours.
- "Daywalks Around Melbourne" Glenn Tempest. Walk #77. Avail. from Open Spaces Publishing;
Navigation: The trail is well maintained and with good signage
Challenge level: The actual 1000 steps are quite steep and anyone other than an elite athlete will be blowing hard by the time you 'summit'. Thereafter the walking is easy.
Phone reception: Good reception throughout the trail.
Water: Carry what you need. It's a short walk.
Start location: Google Maps reference