Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Kokoda Memorial Trail

Several injuries have come and gone (for now) and my legs declare some semblance of fitness. Newly invigorated, we decide to head for the Dandenong Ranges, about half an hour away, and specifically the 1000 Steps Walk - otherwise known as the Kokoda Memorial Trail - up to the top of One Tree Hill. What we didn't know is that a thousand other folks would have a similar idea. We arrived at ten and the car park was already full, on a Tuesday!

Undaunted, we parked where we could and marched purposefully up the track. It steepened, and steepened, and then steepened some more. Eventually, the path gave way to an unbroken line of steps twisting their way upward through heavy foliage, following the line of a quiet creek down below us. We heaved and panted our way up, stopping frequently to read the plaques at the side of the trail dedicated to the Australian soldiers who fought against the Japanese army on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. This was our only excuse for a rest. as dozens of people a third of our age trotted past us, some going up, many already descending.

One passing girl said to us, "Is this your first time?"
"You mean people do this more than once?" I replied.
"Oh yes, this is my second time up - this morning." With that, she was gone.

Eventually, after much brow-mopping, we reached the top and slumped onto a thoughtfully provided bench. A drink and a snack helped and, after some minutes, we continued on, heading downwards to a tarmac road. Next time, we'll drive up. Then we realised that the world had become silent. The lycra-wearing step runners had vanished, presumably back down the way they'd come. We had the woods totally to ourselves.

We walked on, down and round One Tree Hill, a definite misnomer if ever there was one. In the next hour, we saw only three other walkers, but heard hundreds of birds, tracking our progress overhead. We stopped to examine a bleeding tree, a red gum tree which had been scratched by an animal. The gum was now solid, the animal long gone.

Suddenly, my phone rings, reminding us of the world we'd left behind. Time to head back to the car. The car park is half empty now. My legs are wobbly, but previous ailments are forgotten as we sit by the car, sucking on a pear. A challenging walk, but not one we shall be repeating anytime soon. And when we do, we'll make it later in the day, shall we?

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