Despite being a popular weekend exercise destination for Melburnians, I hadn’t personally experienced the 1000 Steps and Kokoda Memorial Track in the Dandenong Rangers until I started at the Hawks in 2013.
The 1000 Steps is a popular spot for Victorians to get moving and enjoy some weekend exercise. On most weekends (and weekdays too) you will find this busy track overflowing with people enjoying the challenge while taking in the bushlands and scenic views that lead to One Tree Hill.
‘In the lead in to ANZAC Day last year, Clarko took us to the memorial sites at the track after we completed our walk, and shared with us what Anzac Day means to him.’
My first encounter was at 6am on a Saturday morning. As I started my preparation and headed toward the track, I took in the picturesque scenery, feeling like it would be a nice leisurely session. Then I hit the steps, and all of a sudden I wasn’t admiring the view anymore. It was tough. It may have only taken 10 minutes to complete, but it felt like it took over half an hour. And that was nothing compared to doing the bike ride – I was in first gear for 25 minutes and felt convinced I was going backwards.
I don’t say this to deter anyone – merely to share with you how physically demanding it can be.
The 1000 Steps are exhausting, and a challenge for any individual, but obviously don’t compare with what the soldiers would have felt on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.
In the lead in to ANZAC Day last year, Clarko took us to the memorial sites at the track after we completed our walk, and shared with us what Anzac Day means to him. Of the strength and sacrifice the Australian soldiers gave so that we could enjoy the life we have today.
The Kokoda Track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea, and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces. From my own experience, I can tell you that marching your way up the 1,000 steps in the Dandenong Ranges, the physical effort provides you the perfect opportunity to give thought to the exhaustion felt by the Australian soldiers during 1942. Be sure to take the time to observe and read the plaques sharing the stories of those who fought and died on the PNG Kokoda Trail, and pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
I may have found my first experience with the track a challenge, but it was to be expected given it was a part of pre-season training.
The track and steps really are for all ages, but if you’re just starting your 20 Day Challenge or fitness campaign then be aware this is a serious walk. Ensure you give yourself enough time to complete it without injuring yourself, as it may take you a little more time than it takes the Hawthorn boys (who hit the track regularly in the off season). Make sure you take plenty of time and plenty of water.
If you haven’t done anything for a while, I’d recommend a daily brisk walk in the lead up to doing the track on the weekend so your muscles and heart are ready for the exertion.
I’ve now walked the track and steps quite a number of times as part of my training with the Hawks. And visiting the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea is definitely something I aspire to do at the end of my career.