Date: 7/10/2023
Trip leader: Vyom Arya
Party: Angelique, Catherine, Christina, Diego, Elodie, Jean-Marin, Madina, Yiqing

This was my first time leading a trip since I moved out west, so it was also the first time I led a trip without actually meeting everyone at the start. Thankfully this went without a hitch, everyone caught the 10:24 Blue Mountains Intercity from Central, and I got on later at Blacktown, and we all got together once we got off the train at Wentworth Falls. The ride, however, did not go without a hitch, as one of the members forgot their wallet on the train, only realising when the time came to tap off at the station! I let him know about the TfNSW “lost property” form online. I’ve never used it myself, so only time will tell if it will be successful in getting his wallet back, fingers crossed though! The toilets at the station itself were locked up, but thats not an issue as Wentworth Falls has a toilet and water fountain right outside. After waiting for Yiqing to grab a bottle of water from a convenience store, we started our way towards the start of the track.

Normally, we would have gone through Charles Darwin Walk, but this track has been closed since the floods in 2020 (and subsequent further damage in both 21 and 22). So, it was instead a 2 km walk through suburban streets instead. Since we were going to Empress Falls, I opted to go through the nature track instead. There’s a short firetrail that connects the nature track from Armstrong Street, and although it is not an officially maintained trail (credits to Open Street Map), it is short so definitely doable. Going this way avoids having to walk along the Great Western Highway, which is unpleasant to say the least.

The first stop on the nature track is the Edinburgh Castle Rock (I, personally, could not see the resemblance) which has a nice view over the valley, though nothing compared to what’s coming up. This gives a good opportunity to shed our layers though, as we’ve warmed up by now. The weather forecast was 10-15 degrees on the day, much colder than the previous 20-30 degrees that we were having recently. Even so, walking in the sun quickly warms you up, and trousers that can turn to shorts are a blessing in this weather. The nature track continues to descend sharply from this point, before making its way along the Valley of Waters Creek.

The Nature Track’s descent

At the first crossing, a short detour right along the stream brings you to Asmodeous Pool. This is a beautiful pool created by the stream cutting its way through the rock here, forming a hidden canyon and rockpool complete with a waterfall. It’s a blessing in the summer months, and definitely worth the short but slightly dodgy way to get here from the main track. Going after a bit of rain was definitely a good call, as this cascade and indeed all the others along our walk were running nicely.

The first stream crossing
Detouring to the Asmodeus Pool

At the second stream crossing, a short detour left will bring you to the less impressive but still nice Flora’s Bath, which is another waterfall.

Flora’s Bath

Descending further still, at the junction with the Grand Clifftop Walk, we take the steps leading further down to the detour to Empress Falls. Countless steep stairs later, we reach the base of this massive waterfall.

The impressive Empress Falls (canyoners for scale)

It was busy, it was a Saturday after all, and luckily we arrived at the same time that a group of canyoners were descending down the falls. The canyon here is a popular destination for canyoners.

A brave canyoner abseiling down the Empress Falls

People were starting to get hungry now, it was already 2 pm by this point, so after bringing out a few snacks, we began the dreaded steep climb back up. National Pass is still closed, so the only way out is back up. Since it was so crowded, frequent breaks were necessary to let people pass narrow sections of stairs. However, maybe in part due to our slow pace, by the time we got to the top, everyone agreed that it wasn’t actually that bad, and the falls were definitely worth the treck down. We then took a much needed lunch break at Queen Victoria Lookout, which has a much better view of the iconic “Blue Mountains View” of Mount Solitary and the Kedumba Valley.

The view from Queen Victoria Lookout

I had brought a sushi bento (boxed lunch), but forgotten to take chopsticks from the restaurant (note for future: sushi hub will not put chopsticks for you in your takeaway bag). Luckily, it was manageable with some hand sanitiser. Yiqing brought a box of beef and chips to share which were apparently really good, but I can’t vouch for that being vegetarian. After half an hour, we continued to the main track, this time joining the actually Overcliff-Undercliff part of the bushwalk. This is the really scenic part of the walk, where the trail follows the cliff’s edge. For the first half of the track, it goes above the cliff, with great views, and for the second half it goes right under (sometimes literally) the cliff, which makes for some really cool pieces of trail. Hence the name, Overcliff-Undercliff track.

The Undercliff part of the track

We took a quick look at both Lyrebird and Breakfast Point Lookouts, but didn’t spend too much time as it was the same view.

Breakfast Point Lookout (I think)

If you do this walk, make sure to stop at Eagle’s Nest Lookout (that’s what OSM tells me, but its unnamed on the actual NPWS signage), which has an awesome view of Wentworth Falls as it cascades over the cliff face. Take in its size from here, as you’re not gonna see much from the top when you get there.

Wentworth Falls

We then stopped at Fletcher’s Lookout, from where we admired the Grand (not giant, that’s in Katoomba) Stairway, and how we wouldn’t have to climb that. We then continued to make a short stop at the stream crossing over the Wentworth Falls itself, from where you can see the ominous drop over the cliff edge. We then made our way back to the carpark, where some of us waited at the Wentworth Falls Lookout while others walked the few hundred metres to the toilets. Once that was done, having 32 minutes left for the train and a 34 minute walk ahead of us, we walked briskly to avoid the 45 minute wait for the next train. We all managed to make the train with a few minutes to spare. The 4 car service was fairly crowded however, so we ended up splitting up in the carriage itself. It was a fairly uneventful return journey, but the trip itself was a great success. Everyone really enjoyed the trip overall, even in the face of all the stairs, and this was definitely one of the most scenic tracks that I had done (it was my first time too!) The nature track section is underrated and can be a blessing on a busy weekend, but doing this walk anticlockwise is the right call as it is much steeper coming out from the nature track. Overall though, a great trip, might do it again once its hotter if poeple are up for a swim!