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“Free awesomeness - one of the great walking trails of Australia & the world”
Review of The National Pass

The National Pass
Reviewed July 22, 2014

The National Pass is considered the best walking trail in Australia, at 6kms in length it packs in everything for a pretty good day of sight-seeing, from crazy cliff stair-cases, zig-zaging mountain paths, rain-forest, waterfalls, moss covered paths & rocks, fresh water streams, birds & wildlife. Its free, two magic words that ring loudly in the ear make this experience, inside a world heritage site a much greater memory than seeing the Three Sisters.
The track is easy to walk, incredible that much of it was created by men using picks, shovels & dynamite over 100 years ago by cutting into claystone ledges to connect sandstone cliffs with walking paths purely for leisure. The National Pass at different points transforms from stone steps to boulders at the base of waterfalls to crazy staircases on the side of cliffs & boardwalks amongst rainforest ferns, every part of it is very safe showcasing the professional workmanship of recent restoration which has won recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Trying to manage your time resting around rock bases of waterfalls, cliff ledges or under the canopy of cool rainforest trees becomes more necessary as time begins to drag on & dwindle.

The Coo’ee bush call originated in this area from the local Aboriginal Dharuk tribe & is something crazy Australians of older generations do whenever they stand near a valley. The National Pass is a perfect place to test the strength of your coo’ee & to listen to responses from anonymous walkers somewhere off in the distance.

The trail starts off from the car park at the Wentworth Falls picnic area to the grand Jamieson Lookout just before the first flight of steps that lead down in amongst the trees into the bush. Within 15 mins you arrive at the first creek which is the source of the Wentworth Falls before it drops suddenly 100 feet below, which is only a mid-point. A series of concrete steps crosses the creek for hikers to skip across. Once on the other side there is another small waterfall with a picturesque rocky face covered in ferns called the Queen’s Cascades. The path now hugs along a rock cliff & the real descent downwards begins. There is a fantastic spot where the path leads to a corner along the ledge where a clear unobstructed view of the horizon & the Jamieson Valley present themselves over a long drop downwards, simply an amazing spot for photos.

The Grand Stairway, the highest stairway in Australia starts here & so does the fun of walking on something far out of the ordinary. The staircase isn’t just any set of stairs. It is on the side of a sandstone cliff, over the side is a drop a hundred feet or more & also offering wide expansive views of the Jamieson Valley. The staircase zig-zags down towards the middle section of Wentworth Falls where the National Parks & Wildlife Service have placed large stone blocks to step across the cascading water. A good place to stop & rest under the cool shade of the surrounding cliffs like a rocky amphitheatre. This is an ideal picnic spot to enjoy a drink & the view. It is easily possible to get right under the cascading water of Wentworth Falls for a shower if you’re game.

Continuing further you will eventually come across a low sandstone overhang, most people will have to bend slightly. This section & beyond is known as the Upper Track. A few hundred metres past the overhang is a halfway marker on a concrete post, around here the path forks into two with one leading further down into the valley to the base of Wentworth Falls where a collection pool is found. The National Pass from here onwards to the Valley of the Waters visibly changes to a more forest environment, green & very photogenic. The path leading down features seven caged ladders with hand rails & forms part of the Wentworth Pass trail snaking along the valley floor eventually joining back up with the National Pass trail & is an hour extra. The two paths reconnect around the Valley of the Waters.

The Valley of the Waters is a beautiful area & is basically the bottom of the cliff. Directly above is the Conservation Hut/Café. There are several cascading waterfalls & pools all connected to each other set in amongst lush forest tress & large leafy ferns. There are steps cut out or laid along the path with hand rails for much of the way up & flat resting areas overlooking the waterfalls. One or two of these resting areas has evidence of ancient Aboriginal axe-grinding grooves used long ago. Once back up to the Conservation Hut there is a 15 mins walk back to the starting point either thru a trail or via the road, both of which are clearly marked. Once you’re finished, it’s time to consider returning next weekend to do the slightly longer Wentworth Trail down to the base of the waterfall but not before a cold VB longneck & a foot massage before you pass out drunk or dead tired.

The Wentworth Falls starting point is located at the picnic area & car park. It is under 2kms from the Wentworth Falls train station down Falls road off the main Great Western Highway. Wentworth Falls is 95 kms from Sydney & about 90 mins drive mostly along highways making it relatively easy to get to. In my opinion it is not necessary to carry an emergency locator beacon on this trail as it is clearly marked but they can be hired from most of the Visitor Centres in the Blue Mountains for use in an emergency, Amazingly, I still get mobile reception with Telstra along most of the track. As always it is best to start the walk early in the morning to enjoy the best conditions.

18  Thank The_Pale_Ridah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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94 - 98 of 146 reviews

Reviewed June 23, 2014

This is an excellent place to do bushwalking and the view of the mountains is very beautiful.

You could do the bushwalking encircling the national pass (don't need to take the gondola if you don't feel like paying for it, just walk instead :D)

Some people pay for the tour to blue mountains, but I recommend renting a car if you're in a group (not more than 4 or 5) since it would be cheaper and more fun all the way...at the same time, you could enjoy the place at your own pace...

Thank 3mt1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 10, 2014

We started at the conservation hut and walked anti clockwise towards Wentworth Falls on the Nature Track which was the opposite of the majority of people on the track. At Empress Falls, we then joined onto the National Pass. It was a fantastic walk that went past little streams, amazing look outs and water falls. It had been raining in the days leading up to our walk so the path was quite wet but this just made it a little bit more exciting. We found that Empress falls (more cascades, more water flow) was more beautiful than Wentworth so if you only have time for one, I know which I would prefer. The map and signs told us it would take approx 6 hours to complete but it only took about 3.5 hours. We walked quite slow in some parts and stopped many times to take photos and enjoy the view. In regards to the level of difficulty, I thought the rating given on the signs and website of 'Hard' was a little extreme. I'm not a massive hiker and although there were lots of stairs and I was out of breath on some parts, it was not too difficult. A person of decent health (but not much fitness) can easily do this walk.

4  Thank Addicted_to_me
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2014

This is a great walk passing through several different environments and with some spectacular views. It goes across the top of Wentworth Falls, down the steep, narrow steps of the Grand Staircase, originally carved by hand out of the cliff face in 1908, back across the middle of the falls between the upper and lower drops and then along a ledge halfway up the cliff face for most of the rest of it. The views both looking down at the valley and up at the cliffs towering above you are amazing. The walk passes through damp and dry sections, lush rainforest and barren rock. At the end the climb up alongside Empress Falls is pretty cool.
The track was refurbished in 2008 and is very well made and maintained. If you have three hours to spare in the mountains, it is definitely worth doing. Much more spectacular than the Three Sisters!

2  Thank James W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2014 via mobile

Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Probably one of the most beautiful walks and waterfalls I've ever seen! Well worth the trek out there from Sydney! Some great pics to be taken

1  Thank KiwiWanderingOff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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