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|The Cliff Ledge section of the track|
My earliest memories of the National Pass go back to a time just after World War 11, possibly before my father began working at Wunderlich’s brick and tile factory in Sydney, which would place it in 1945. The only thing I can actually recall is being carried across the shaky and dangerous bridges at the bottom of the Falls. Goodness knows when the last repairs had been made to them.
Much more recently, my own children did the walk
at a tender
age in 1978. On my recent walk, I encountered numerous seniors, so if you’re
getting on in years don’t let your age be the deciding factor. True, there are
lots of steps to get down into the valley and return, but just take these
slowly and all should be well.
|Roland, Yvonne and Lyndall Paix 1978|
The round walk easily divides into 5 sections and each one has an interesting history of its own.
The best place to find car parking is at the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area, and since your walk is going to take around 4 hours it makes sense to arrive early to be sure of finding a spot. Carry your lunch with you and enjoy it along the track. Make sure you have plenty of water as well,
since drinking from the many
streams you will encounter is not recommended. The alternative car park at the
Conservation Hut is often filled up by patrons enjoying the fine food on offer
|Empress Falls Valley of the Waters|
|Sylvia Falls Valley of the Waters|
I recommend that you take the Short Cut Track from the bottom car park, which is a pleasant walk of 15-20 minutes leading to the Conservation Hut. Historically, there has been a track between these 2 areas for over 100 years, because it made round trips possible. This is Section 1. (You can use the WildWalks map and information as a guide – download it here.)
Section 2 is the magnificent descent into the Valley of the Waters. If you love the sound and sight of falling water, this place is for you. Take the steps and ladders slowly and savour every moment in this magical place. People like you have been coming here for 120 years and it isn’t difficult to see why.
Section 3 (the first part of the actual National Pass section) begins at the final creek crossing just above Lodore Falls and takes you onto the extraordinary cliff ledge leading around to the bottom of the first drop of Wentworth Falls. Before 1906, it was possible to go further down into the valley and follow up Jamison Creek to the bottom of the second fall, but it was only the completion of the ledge track that allowed easy access to bottom of the firstfall. All along this section (and up the Grand Stairway) the National Parks and Wild Life Service has installed commemorative plaques and information panels telling of the restoration of the track and the environment through which it passes. These are a valuable addition to your walking experience.
The area immediately below Wentworth Falls is like a magnet which draws lots of people to it, many of whom descend the stairs and return the same way. If you want to find this place peaceful and quiet, then avoid school holidays and weekends.
|Materials used during the restoration of the track|
|Den Fenella Falls|
NOTE: THE PASS IS CLOSED DUE TO ROCKFALLS AS AT AUGUST 2019 AND HAS BEEN FOR OVER A YEAR.
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|Vera and John Paix on the Grand Stairway June 1958|