it was a nice sunny sunday at the start of spring so i thought i would spend it up in the blue mountains. even though this is virtually in my backyard (so to speak) it had been a while since i had ventured up this way with camera in hand. considering the sun was beating down i thought i would go and capture two of my favourite areas; leura cascades and the valley of the waters. usually one spot would have been enough but i was keen to dedicate a full day to shooting as it had been a while since i had been out doing the type of shooting i love. first stop was leura cascades.
leura cascades as the name suggest isn't far from the town of leura; about a couple of kilometres in fact. after you drive through the town (leura mall), luera cascades is pretty well sign posted and you will end up at the leura cascades picnic area. as it was a nice day there weren't many car parking options but after a small trek i was there. the map below shows you where to go.
the cascades themselves start right at the picnic area. the walk down the cascades is actually the start (or end, depending on where you start) of the prince henry cliff walk. while this walk is identified as a medium grade the walk down past the cascades is quite easy and accessible to most. the cascades themselves is only about a one kilometre walk and there are hand rails for the majority of the decline with no really steep sections. the water was flowing quite well on the day as we had recent rain and while there are many little spots to take photographs, i wanted to get to the end of the cascades where there was a nice little catchment pool. it is a fairly dark spot so taking a tripod is a must (especially if you want those silky waterfall shots).
at the end of the cascades is a beautiful spot called bridal veil falls lookout. it offers great views across the mountains and valley below. from that point you can go to the right and continue with the price henry cliff walk but i wanted to get to the main part of the day at valley of the waters, so back up i went after resting at the lookout for a few minutes.
well if i thought leura cascades was busy, then valley of the waters was packed and car parking isn't great here! i luckily got a car park as someone was leaving so that was a blessing. so, valley of the waters is located at wentworth falls and is is well sign posted once you get through the town. see the map for directions to get here.
there are a few walks from this area and a great little cafe at the top in the conservation hut. i did stop there for a quick bite to eat and some more water before i started my trek. now as i said there are a few options in this walk but if you are into your waterfalls then take the signs to empress falls. now this walk isn't easy at all, in fact it is identified as being a hard grade. it is about 6kms and very steep in most parts. that said it is well worth the effort and there are actually three beautiful falls in this walk. i would recommend that you go straight to the bottom and then stop at each waterfall on the way back up to conserve your legs. the three falls from bottom to top are flat rock falls, sylvia falls and empress falls. as i didn't start this walk until late and as i have been here before, i decided to visit the top two only (which are my favourite falls anyway of the three). the first falls is a fair way down but the walk is very pretty and you can hear water not long after you start. you also actually cross a section of the falls on some stepping stones as you head down. so as i said i went down to sylvia falls first. this is a really pretty set of falls with a lot of rock outcroppings that has water flowing over in a number of places.
after spending some time here i ventured back up to empress falls. this falls is probably the best of the three. it is quite high and falls into a very deep and tranquil rock pool. this is a very popular spot for swimming but considering i was there quite late i had it free of swimmers. to get the best shot you need to go under the barrier and go out onto the rocks. just be super careful though as the rocks are very slippery and if you are not taking care you will fall either into the pool itself or down onto hard rocks - ouch for you and your gear.
well it was getting late and time to head back up the climb. to make it easy i packed my camera gear away in my bag. as i got to the top of the empress falls i heard voices and there was actually people starting to abseil down empress falls. i couldn't get a good angle for a shot though due to the dense bush, unless i went down again. i contemplated it for a while but my legs were saying that is a stupid idea - oh well another day. as i was heading up though i did notice a little spot that caught my eye and out came the gear again - truth being known i wanted a rest anyway :) it was a very peaceful spot with water going over mossy rocks. once i caught my breath i was going up again. all in all a great day that gave me sore legs for a day or two and some nice shots. i definitely recommend spending a day up here but bring your hiking shoes (and camera gear of course).