National Pass - Blue Mountains - Australia

Empress Falls

We're looking at a stream that's taken millions of years to cut a deep but narrow canyon through the upper layers of Blue Mountains sandstone. Empress Canyon is popular for abseiling.

The Valley of the Waters Creek gushes from its gorge and spills over fern-fringed ledges as Empress Falls.

The falls drop 30 metres into a deep pool where locals swim. The water is so deep and cold that it's not easy to find the bottom.

Before our climb to the top, this is the perfect place to sit and take a spell.

AbseilerAbseilers in wet suits and hard hats are a familiar sight attempting the drop through the rush of the waterfall. But now we simply pause to enjoy the delicate embrace of this place – lost in its spray and mists.

We're at the end of a box canyon, and the only way out is up. The climb is breathtaking, in more ways than one.

We quickly ascend through a range of familiar environments ... from the shadows of a dark and mysterious rainforest, past rocky outcrops, along ledges and then straight up steel and timber staircases into the bright sunlight.

Building the National Pass

The National Pass hiking track was built with picks, shovels, crowbars and dynamite between 1906 and 1907. It involved cutting a zig-zag staircase into a cliff face and became a very popular walking trail.   Learn more

Restoring the Trail

After 95 years service, the track had to be closed in 2002. Bushfires, rain storms and landslides played havoc with fencing and wooden bridges. The $1.5 million restoration project won a National Trust award.   Learn more

Bushwalking Tips

Walking this historic trail will be more enjoyable if you prepare well. Bring a camera and binoculars if you can. Make sure you have adequate clothing should the weather change. Carry water and snacks. Don't stray off the trail.