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Road trip from Canberra: Wentworth Falls

By Lisa Martin - 1 January 2016 12

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With the recent spate of storms and rain sweeping through the east coast, the Blue Mountains is looking very green and lush, and the waterfalls are spectacular as they thunder down with water.

Editor’s note: Lisa wrote this article some months ago. If you intend on doing this trail over the summer months, always remember to take lots of water.

My friend Rhys and I recently headed to the Blue Mountains to discover this stunning location. I’ve passed through here once before but never done any of the trails – but now wish I had.

It’s about a three hour drive to the Blue Mountains from Canberra. Just head down the Hume Highway and start heading west from the Eastern Creek area.

We chose to do the Valley of the Waters/National Pass/Wentworth Falls trail which takes you past Empress Falls, Wentworth Falls, under cliff faces, and through spectacular scenery at every turn.

We started from the Conservation Hut at the Valley of the Waters carpark at Wentworth Falls.

Follow the signs to Wentworth Falls, and then turn right onto Fletcher Street to get to the Valley of the Waters carpark.

We started off from the Conservation Hut following the National Pass signs. It’s mostly downhill for several kilometres until you reach the beautiful Empress Falls.

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Be careful if it’s been raining, the rocks and stairs are slippery, but there are handrails in the steepest parts.

As you head further down into the valley, you’ll continue to pass waterfall after waterfall. Every spot is beautiful. With recent rain, the roar of the waterfalls can be heard on most parts of the walk.

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After a series of waterfalls, you’ll come to a junction where you can continue following the Valley of the Waters trail but there’s lots of stairs and ladders, and on a drizzly day we opted not to attempt the ladders and headed into the National Pass part of the trail.

There’s lots of clear signage along the trails so it’s easy to navigate.

Walking along the National Pass is fascinating. Built into the side of a cliff, the trail was made in the early 1900s using hand tools and dynamite and there are several information signs along the way about how it was built. The trail opened in 1908, and had major rehabilitation works done a few years ago.

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The trail will likely start to get busy here so be prepared for the crowds as it nears the middle of the day.

Every part of this trail is interesting. There’s lots of stepping stones along the way and then you’ll have to duck to get under cliff overhangs.

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If you started the walk from Conservation Hut, you’ll first get close to Wentworth Falls at its halfway point as the waterfall flows above you.

Then the hardest part of the walks starts as you head up. You’ll be challenged by the steep Grand Stairway, but amazed that it was carved out of rock in the early 1900s. But there are plenty of places to catch your breath and enjoy the views from cliff sides.

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Eventually you’ll reach the top of Wentworth Falls and see over the waterfall edge and the valley from a series of stepping stones.

If you’re doing the Valley of the Waters hike, it’s another hour from this point back to Conservation Hut. The next hour is just as enjoyable as the first two with undercliff sections, stepping stones and lookouts.

All up the Valley of the Waters/National Pass/Wentworth Falls track we did was about 7km and took us three hours – but we did stop a lot to take photos.

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There are various walks from Wentworth Falls though – one that is only a couple of kilometres and just takes you to the falls and back.

The Blue Mountains National Park has dozens of walks to choose from so it’s worth more than a day trip if you can. The towns of Katoomba, Leura, Lithgow and Mt Victoria are among some of the starting points for walking trails throughout the national park.

For more information on trails in the Blue Mountains National Park, check out the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service page at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/blue-mountains-national-park

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Road trip from Canberra: Wentworth Falls
bigred 8:52 pm 04 Jan 16

switch said :

bigred said :

If into mountain biking, the Oaks Fire Trail is a must if you are reasonably bike fit and your medical insurance is up to date.

You know, here were letters in the local paper (Blue Mountains Gazette) complaining about mountain bikers hurtling down the Oaks Fire Trail when I lived there. And they didn’t ring their bells!

and when I lived there the issues were trail bikers buzzing the walkers. Mountain bikes had yet to be invented.

batmantrilogy 7:26 pm 04 Jan 16

Great destination for a road trip . Those falls and the valleys were amazing.

SidneyReilly 4:02 pm 04 Jan 16

For those among us who enjoy a bit of decent food the Megalong Valley Tea rooms are up to the challenge. Personaly I can manage a weaight gain of around 2kg every visit….
http://www.megalongtearooms.com.au/

Blen_Carmichael 9:35 am 04 Jan 16

Zan said :

Great report. However there is a much nicer way to the Blue Mountains area. At Goulburn turn off towards Taralga, then on to Oberon, then to the Great Western Highway turning right to the Blue Mountains.

Ditto.

Incidentally, I don’t know of any “trails” in the Blue Mountains. There are, however, many tracks.

switch 9:01 am 04 Jan 16

SidneyReilly said :

The Zig Zag Railway is worth the look just for the “hammer and chisel” enginering that went on there.

The engineering is still there and amazing, and certainly worth a look, but the steam trains haven’t run since the Army destroyed the place by setting off a bushfire.

switch 8:50 am 04 Jan 16

bigred said :

If into mountain biking, the Oaks Fire Trail is a must if you are reasonably bike fit and your medical insurance is up to date.

You know, here were letters in the local paper (Blue Mountains Gazette) complaining about mountain bikers hurtling down the Oaks Fire Trail when I lived there. And they didn’t ring their bells!

SidneyReilly 1:53 pm 03 Jan 16

Zan said :

Great report. However there is a much nicer way to the Blue Mountains area. At Goulburn turn off towards Taralga, then on to Oberon, then to the Great Western Highway turning right to the Blue Mountains.

And some sensational scenery along this route, another oad along this way is unsealed and takes you through Trunkey Creek.
I just cant get over how much the Blue Mountains has changed for the worse, its now overrun with tourists (more than get on the “Great Wall”)and everyone seem to be is such a rush. My Fake knee precludes me doing too much hiking but as a Kid we had free reign, down the giants staircase, around to the coalmine where we would explore with candles not realising that coal gas and lit candles don’t mix then sneak onto the “scenic railway” at the bottom and get dragged back to the top in time to get back to the Craige e lee Guest House for dinner…
But some things one should try and see while visiting, The Original Bondi Steam tram at Valley Heights, The Zig Zag Railway is worth the look just for the “hammer and chisel” enginering that went on there. Now if only they could bring the steam tram to Canberra you could get from Gunghalin to Civic in 12 mins, but I digress thats a discussion for another day.

justin heywood 12:27 pm 03 Jan 16

bigred said :

Yes, the Blue Mountains is one of my favourite destinations.

Agreed, also home (well just down the road) to Megalong Books at Leura. I challenge anyone to go there and not come out with a book and a smile.

And I would take the road less travelled too, get off the highway at Goulburn then to Oberon.

I’m loving these ‘Road Trip’ articles.

farnarkler 12:11 pm 03 Jan 16

Awesome falls. A closer alternative with the added attractions in Berrima and Bowral is Fitzroy falls not far from Moss Vale.

bigred 7:43 pm 02 Jan 16

Yes, the Blue Mountains is one of my favourite destinations. There is always a different part to explore. A couple of variations if Wentworth Falls is too busy are Blackheath for the fantastic Rhododendron Garden or the South Lawson Falls loop. If doing the South Lawson Falls, try to find the “convict hole” and develop your own hypothesis about its creation.

If into mountain biking, the Oaks Fire Trail is a must if you are reasonably bike fit and your medical insurance is up to date. If you do the Oaks, the aboriginal rock carvings are a good place for a breather.

Masquara 9:26 am 01 Jan 16

RIP Stevie Plunder

Zan 8:46 am 01 Jan 16

Great report. However there is a much nicer way to the Blue Mountains area. At Goulburn turn off towards Taralga, then on to Oberon, then to the Great Western Highway turning right to the Blue Mountains.

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