K2.2million to fix steps

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 09th November 2011

THE Victorian state government has announced a A$1 million (K2.2 million) overhaul of the 1,000 Steps memorial to Kokoda Track Diggers in the Dandenongs, which has become more of a running track than a nature walk.
A bush path, Lyrebird Track, which runs parallel to the Upper Ferntree Gully landmark, will be converted into 600 steps for fitness fanatics.
But runners will not be banned from running up the 1,000 steps that lead from the picnic ground to One Tree Hill.
Environment minister Ryan Smith said the new path would encourage an alternative route to “‘take the pressure off”’ people paying respects to the 2,000 Australians who died in the Kokoda campaign, in Papua New Guinea in World War II.
The original 1,000 Steps walk will retain its greenery and 15 plaques telling the Kokoda story, but rest spaces will be created for slower walkers.
A new shelter with seats, information panels and ceremonial space will be built at the 1,000 Steps base.
Parks Victoria’s Melbourne region manager, Chris Hardman said the steps drew about 50,000 sightseers a year 15 years ago, but now had 50,000 visitors a month.
He estimated that more than 80% used them for exercise.