Famous 1000 Steps return for Dandenong

Parks Victoria

Dandenong’s Kokoda Track Memorial Walk – the famous 1000 Steps – is officially reopened for walkers.

The popular track was closed in June 2021 following major storms which caused damage across Victoria, with Dandenong Ranges National Park, including the 1000 Steps, among the hardest hit.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio officially reopened the track at an event on Monday 3 October.

Thanks to Parks Victoria staff, Earth and Environment Constructions contractors and a working bee of all the staff and volunteers at Parks Victoria’s Dandenong office, supported by the Victorian Government, walkers can get back to the challenge.

Shows a new concrete step in place on a freshly cleaned walking track  surrounded by forest. Three women sit on the steps, one is a park ranger with working gloves and two others are in high viz with overalls and hard hats, all are smiling at the camera with a sense of a job well done.

Parks Victoria rangers Linda, Allysha and Shannon celebrate finishing part of the reopening works. Credit: Parks Victoria

Because of its location and the steepness of the track, the clean-up has been a challenge.

More than 150 trees fell around and across the track in the storm. Uprooted trees and fallen branches destroyed much of the popular visitor spot, forcing it to be closed to ensure public safety.

Located in dense forest, high in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the track was created in the early 1900s, and the 1000 Steps walk was originally made from tree fern trunks laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb easier.

Dandenong Ranges NP - storm recovery - 1000 Steps

Damage to the 1000 Steps track in the aftermath of the June 2021 storm. Credit: Parks Victoria

Because of its location and the steepness of the track, the clean-up and recovery has been a challenge.

Located in dense forest, high in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the track was created in the early 1900s, and the 1000 Steps were originally made from tree fern trunks laid along wetter areas to make the climb easier.

These were eventually replaced by wooden palings, and more permanent concrete steps have since been installed.

Repair and recovery works have replaced damaged steps and handrailing along the track, with materials carried in by hand due to the challenging terrain.

Fallen and felled timber from the storms has also been used to revegetate areas across the Parks Victoria estate and create natural habitats for native animals in the wake of bushfires, as well as several storm-impacted sites.

To date, Parks Victoria staff – through Bushfire Recovery Victora – have repurposed timber at Dandenong Ranges National Park into stakes, picnic table sets and replacement slats, log seats, fencing materials and bollards.

Staff are also working with volunteers to build nest boxes for Leadbeater’s Possums, using the reclaimed wood from the storms.

The 1000 Steps are reminiscent of the first 100 metres of the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea and has been dedicated to the Australian Military Forces who fought and died there. A series of plaques have been erected along the track and veterans adopted the park as a war memorial site in 1998.

The track is a tough but rewarding challenge and just one of one of the many reasons why Dandenong Ranges National Park continues to be a popular destination for locals and tourists

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