If like me, you happen to live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, you would be well aware of the 1000 Steps (aka the Kokoda Memorial Walk) located at the foot of the Dandenongs in Ferntree Gully.
People from near and far flock to this iconic Melbourne location on a regular basis, and, for the most part, it serves its purpose.
However, given its popularity, it is constantly overrun with people of varying fitness levels, who also feel the need to park illegally on the nearby Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.
Did I also mention that it’s not even 1000 Steps? At last count, I believe it was somewhere between 700 and 800 steps.
I’ve done the steps a few times, but once I got into hiking I quickly realised that while it could be useful for training and to get fit for future hikes, it was largely a nightmare for the reasons above and more.
Something that has bothered me for some time is why do the Steps get all the love and not some of the other more picturesque and far more rewarding walks/hikes in the Dandenongs?
Are people not aware of these other walks? Do they simply want to be seen doing something popular?
What I am sure of is that there are several other walks/walking areas that are far more rewarding than the 1,000 Steps. And here they are in no particular order.
R.J. Hamer Arboretum, Olinda
You can enter the Arboretum at a number of locations, however, I prefer to start and end my hikes from Woolrich Lookout on Chalet Road.
You can see right over the top from the lookout area and off into the distance. On a clear, sunny day, this is a great way to start and end your hike.
Not too far from the 1000 Steps is the Sherbrooke Forest. While it’s not as big as the Arboretum, it does have many trails in it that you can hike and create a circuit from.
In the middle of the forest, there’s a small bridge overlooking the Sherbrooke Falls, and there are two picnic grounds – O’Donohue Picnic Ground and Sherbrooke Picnic Ground.
It’s a popular area given the short tracks and beautiful scenery, and the circuit I typically walk is around 8kms.
Mt Dandenong Transmission Towers’ Trail
This is not an official track and certainly isn’t for those looking for an easy hike. Located south of another popular trail, The Glasgow Track, the Mount Dandenong Transmission Towers trail is an uphill slog to the top of the mountain where the transmission towers are located.
Upon arrival, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. On a clear day, you can see the city.
Western Slopes Hiking Track – Mount Dandenong
Finally, another great option in the area is the Western Slopes Hiking Track at Mount Dandenong itself.
A solid 9-11km track (depending on which side trails you take), this will give you a really good workout with some lasting gradual ascents & descents to conquer.
And best of all the view from Burkes Lookout at about the halfway mark is absolutely sensational.
In fact, much like the Mount Dandenong Transmission Tower trail, if you hike there on a clear day you can see into the city of Melbourne from the lookout.
Have you been hiking in the Dandenongs before? Are there any other places I may have missed that you love? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.