Chasing waterfalls on the Valley of the Waters track
Nestled in the Wentworth Falls Valley, just a short 90-minute drive from the bustle of Sydney’s CBD into the vibrant Blue Mountains, the Valley of the Waters track offers more waterfalls in a single walk (and single hour) than you’re likely to find in many other places. Always on the hunt for unique vantage points and new activities in one of my favourite places in all of Australia, my Canberra-based friend Lucy and I hit the road this weekend to explore more of the Blue Mountains, tackling this quick but beautiful walk on our first day.
All the details: Valley of the Waters
As with most walks in the Blue Mountains, the best (and really only) way to reach the trail is by car. There is a small carpark near the start of the track, but parking tends to overflow onto the nearby residential streets.
The trail begins just to the right of the Conservation Hut, a little café in the Wentworth Falls area.
Backtrack to the Conservation Hut
~ 1.5 km return
This is a reasonably steep track with slippery sections and a number of ladders, but it’s still fairly short and therefore not too challenging
Spotty mobile reception (as in the Blue Mountains in general), café with maps and information at the start of the track
Food & water
Drinks and snacks at the Conservation Hut
It’s possible to continue past Empress Falls to another 2 waterfalls (if the track is open)
6/10 for the lush greenery and a few stunning lookouts, but the view of Empress Falls was obstructed by several dozen people on a canyoning tour
From the Conservation Hut, a bustling café overlooking the beautiful Wentworth Falls valley, there is a sign for the Valley of the Waters track on your right side. Either take this path and follow signs from here to the Short Cut Track, or just take the path to the right of the hut for Empress Falls, as both of these paths converge at the Short Cut. On either trail, the path winds steeply downhill over a series of wooden steps and past a number of well-signed forks, enjoying the cover of the dense forest which keeps the walk cool and the sunburn risk rather low.
Queen Victoria Lookout
Before long, there is a sign for the Queen Victoria Lookout posted on the left side of the trail. Follow the path down just a few more steps to reach this fenced-off point, which offers simply wonderful views over the Blue Mountains and their characteristically orange cliffs, lush eucalyptus forests, and strangely Jurassic Park-esque palms. Often, these viewpoints that require a little effort to reach are nearly empty compared to the more accessible and well-known lookouts (Echo Point), so it’s possible to enjoy the scenery all to yourself before continuing on further into the valley.
Empress Lookout & Empress Falls
Hopping back onto the main track after Queen Victoria Lookout, the walk continues to descend, eventually reaching a series of metal ladders that have been bolted into the rock to aid in climbing. A number of small cascades appear on the side of the trail; of course, the trade-off for clear weather and dry ground is that there isn’t quite as much water flowing down the rocks, but they are still plenty beautiful. Not long into the ladder descent, Empress Falls is visible below. I was rather disappointed to find a large tour group abseiling down the falls, obstructing our view and also causing quite a bit of commotion, but it was a lovely sight even with the ropes and tourists in the way.
Unfortunately, the little track that continues a couple hundred metres beyond Empress Falls to reach the final view of Sylvia Falls was closed for repair when we visited, but I am assured that it is worth the continued effort. After enjoying the forest and falls views, we turned around and made our way back up all the ladders and steps, a fairly steep climb back to the car that left us puffed but ready for more adventure.
Overall impressions: Valley of the Waters
Although we didn’t get to see the final falls on our walk, Empress Falls and Queen Victoria Lookout were more than enough to justify even the steep, slick descent into the forest and the rather demanding climb back out. Many walks in the Blue Mountains wind past a series of lookouts with more or less the same scenery, but the Valley of the Waters track certainly provides variety in its views of the mountains, striking flora, and glowing waterfalls, all within a management one-hour walk. I’m not ready to say it’s my favourite hike in the whole region, but I’d still happily recommend it and even repeat it myself when the last section of the trail is open.
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