On one glorious morning in Ferntree Gully, Annemie, Erik and I decided to challenge ourselves and get some morning exercise at the 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk, which is a memorial walk, where hikers can experience a small bit of the exhaustion that the Australian soldiers felt after having completed the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War.

The Kokoda Trail is a single-file trail that runs 96 km. overland. In 1942, the trail was the location of the battle between the Japanese and the Allied forces, where primarily Australians fought. The trail is only passable on foot and reaches a height of 2.190 m. The isolation of the trail, the ever-changing weather and the risk of endemic tropical diseases make it a very challenging hike and many Australian soldiers died trying to complete it.

The 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk was created as a memory of the Australian soldiers who gave their lives for their country during the battle.

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The hike starts at Ferntree Gully Rangers Office, which can be reached by train from Melbourne, and ends at the One Tree Hill Picnic Ground. It’s only 1,8 km. long and takes about 1 hour, depending on how much photo-time you need (and I always need a lot!).

The 1000 Steps Kokoda Walk trail was originally created in the early 1900’s and made from the trunks of tree ferns, but they have since been replaced by wooden palings and concrete steps. It’s located at Mt. Dandenong in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which is a set of low mountain ranges consisting of hills, valleys and gullies covered in temperate rainforests. It’s the perfect place for a memorial walk.

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We set off at Ferntree Gully Rangers Office along with many other people, who had come to do their morning exercise. The first part of the hike was the hard part – hills that just kept getting steeper and steeper. It wasn’t long before we could feel our legs burning, but our moods were high and with the fresh mountain air in our lungs, we kept on walking, determined to reach the top.

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Before we had even realized that we were getting close, we were at the top. The hike suddenly felt very short. When it was time to go back down, we decided to take another route, which led us through a beautiful temperate rainforest.

Along the walk, we saw many tree ferns, eucalyptus trees and blackwood trees and with the sound of parrots and lyrebirds, we really felt like we were in a tropical rainforest, but the weather didn’t quite live up to the surroundings. It was perfect weather to hike in though, as it wasn’t too hot or too cold.

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Erik had been talking about lyrebirds the entire day and on the way back down, we actually saw one! Lyrebirds are Australian birds that are notable for their ability to mimic sounds from their environment as well as for the striking beauty of the male bird’s tail. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a male, but the sound of the female lyrebird was unmistakable. It was such a wonderful sound and I was really excited to see another one of Australias native animals.

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A few moments later, we finished the walk and had reached the One Tree Hill Picnic Ground. It was a really nice way to start the day and definitely something that I would do again, if I ever come back to Ferntree Gully.

The walk is only recommended for fit walkers, although I saw many people of different sizes during the walk and personally, I didn’t find it too challenging.

The scenery along the walk is gorgeous and it’s such a great memorial. During those steep parts, I felt like I could feel pain of the soldiers, although my small amount of pain could never compare to what the soldiers went through 73 years ago.

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