1000 Steps at the Dandenong Ranges With Kids + Eureka Climb

One of the goals for the family this year was to undertake at least two bush walks. On Friday we went on our first for the year.

Master 14 and Mr I weren’t with us, but the four kids, myself and master 12’s friend had a great time tackling the 1000 Steps at Dandenong Ranges National Park.

I had never been before and wasn’t sure how the youngest would go with the walk, but he was fantastic and loved every minute of it. There were only a few minor complaints from master seven at one stage, who said he had saw legs, but he was easily distracted out of that and he was excited to tell his friends about his achievement later that afternoon.

Below is the photo version of our lovely time. Click here to go to the end of the post for tips on walking the 1000 Steps with kids and more about the park.
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And away we go!

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The first marker. A little rest and then upwards again.

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Not sure the stick really helped him, but it kept master 7 company for part of the walk.

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There is a constant stream of people up and down the 1000 Steps.

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The kids start looking forward to the markers.

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A tree to hop in, which apparently smelt very bad!

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Master 4 called these dinosaur plants.

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Miss 9 started walking slightly ahead of us. I kept with the younger two and they walked the steps in good spirits.

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We made it! There are seats at the top and you can take another walk to a picnic ground from here.

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We just made our way back down the 1000 Steps.

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There is a lovely memorial at the start of the 1000 Steps.

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If you didn’t want to bring along your own food, there is a cafe at the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

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We brought a picnic lunch, but there are BBQs available to use.

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Some wildlife was wanting to join us for lunch.

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Refuelled and refreshed, we walked back to the playground area for some more fun, before leaving.

Tips for taking kids to the 1000 Steps at the Dandenong Ranges

The 1000 steps is a great activity for parents and kids to do together. Here are some tips that made the walk easier for us.

  • Don’t talk it up too much. Once an idea or perception is in the kids head it can be hard to change. We talked about whether or not there really was going to be 1000 steps, what they might look like, but not about how steep it was or how hard it was going to be.
  • Feed them well before you get there. We had a big morning tea before we left for the 30 minutes drive to the Dandenong Ranges National Park. It made the drive more pleasant and meant once we got there we could head straight to the steps.
  • Safety talk first. We did a little safety talk in the car on the way there. It was more of a discussion about not walking to close to the edge, about stepping aside to allow others to pass and the dangers of running down hills too fast. It was great to have this as a reference point to remind the kids. We also did see a boy having his grazed leg cleaned up by his mum as well, which served as a further reminder of what can happen if you run instead of walk down.
  • Car parking – we grabbed the last car park at the very back end of the car park, which was fine. I can imagine on weekends it would become very busy.
  • Use the toilets before starting the 1000 steps. There are a couple of blocks of public toilets at the park. Better for them all to go before as there are no toilets at the top!
  • Take as little as possible with you on the walk. I just used my iPhone for photos, no wallet, just cash in my pocket, we took one water bottle to share and miss 9 offered to take her bag and hold it all. The walk doesn’t take that long that the kids won’t need food and it is more enjoyable to walk without extra burdens. It also allows parents to have free hands.
  • Use the markers on the walk. Every 250 metres there are green markers. Use these as a discussion point for the kids. And after a tired legs complaint from master 7, we also made them mini rest points, where the kids could sit if they wanted to. After having a short sit at one of them, they didn’t really do it again. As they would see a marker, they would actually quicken their pace to see how much further they had walked.
  • Let them stop and explore. We had plenty of time to spend on the walk, so I let master 12 and his friend go off ahead and I stayed with the younger kids and let them stop, look at rocks, trees, plants as much as they liked. I think it really helped that they didn’t feel rushed.
  • Have a picnic afterwards. If you have time the Dandenong Ranges National Park is a lovely spot to have a picnic or BBQ lunch afterwards. We made rolls and salad to have. There are plenty of tables and a number of bbqs to use.
  • Enjoy the playground. There is a great playground there for the kids. I took our picnic blanket and lay down near the playground and watched the kids play a technical game of off ground tiggy.
  • Take a bag for rubbish. It is a take in take out park, so make sure you take your rubbish home with you.

1000 Steps at the Dandenong Ranges – the details

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The 1000 Steps is part of Kokoda Track Memorial Walk and is located in the Ferntree Gully area of Dandenong Ranges National Park (south western area). The 1000 steps have been around for some time:

Created in the early 1900s the 1000 Steps Walk was originally made from the trunks of tree ferns laid along the wetter areas of the track to make the climb a little easier. These were replaced by wooden palings before the more permanent concrete steps were installed in 1950.

Distance: 3km return

Grade: Steep. The Parks Victoria website states – reasonable fitness required. Our 4 year old walked the entire way, but he is used to walking. I did see other parents carrying children his age or older up the hill.

Time to complete walk: The Parks Victoria website states – 1.5 hours for the return trip. We took our time with the walk. We started at 11.00am, made it to the top at 11.30am and were back down the bottom by 11.55am.

Eureka Climb

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Part of the reason for choosing the 1000 steps as our first bush walk, was also to sneak in a little training for master 12 and I. We have both entered to participate in the Eureka Climb! I am actually going to be an ambassador for the event. 

If you are not familiar with the Eureka Climb, it is Australia’s biggest vertical race held at one of the world’s tallest residential buildings, Eureka Tower in Southbank, Melbourne.

Eureka Climb participants will ascend 1642 steps to level 88’s observation deck known as Eureka Skydeck (the highest observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere). Eureka Climb is open to people aged 12 years and over and with walker and climber categories is open to all fitness levels!

Eureka Climb is in the top 20 (amount of stairs) of stair climbs in the world and is host to an Elite Race for some of Australia’s best stair climbers.

You can read more about the event here, but the details in brief are as follows:

Sunday 17th November, 2013. You can register online here.

Entry fees:
Walker (not timed, social) – $50
Climber (timed, competitive) – $60
Min. Fundraising Pledge – $35

Team (4 per team)
Walker (not timed, social) – $180
Climber (timed, competitive) – $220
Min. Fundraising Pledge – $140

Start times:
Elites start at 7am. Staggered start (wave) times begin from 7:15am – 1pm (climbers) or 7:15am – 10:00am (walkers) and you can select your start (wave) time during registration.

Family and friends can purchase a ticket to Eureka Skydeck to be at the finish line. These tickets can be bought on the day or online here.

Fundraising or raising a minimum pledge is an integral part of Eureka Climb. The event raises much needed funds for charity partners Interplast & Whitelion, who are both committed to helping disadvantaged young people. You can read more about the charity partners here.

This is going to be my first climb. Would love to hear any tips if you have completed one before!