Empress Canyon

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T2
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Empress Canyon

Post by T2 » 21 May 2018, 11:56

Empress Canyon is one of the most popular canyons in the Blue Mountains, largely because it’s short, attractive, and very accessible. It can be completed by a small, fast group in under an hour, or enjoyed at a leisurely pace over several hours. Wetsuits may be useful, particularly if your party is large, inexperienced, or slow-moving.

Difficulty — Easy
Time — 1 to 3 hours
Distance — 2kms
Elevation — 200m
Number of abseils — 1
Longest abseil — 30m
Swimming — Yes
Quality — 6/10

Warning: Empress is very popular with commercial groups. To avoid being caught behind a large group or having a long wait at the abseil, it is recommended recreational groups enter the canyon before 10am or after 3.30pm. National Parks has a log book at the start of the lower section which will let you know how many groups are in front of you before you enter.

Access: Park near the Conservation Hut at the western end of Fletcher Street, Wentworth Falls.

Entry:

From the Conservation Hut, follow the Nature Track down towards Empress Falls. After about 400m you will reach Empress Lookout, which gives a good view of the abseil at the end of the canyon. Continue for 100m, down some metal stairs, to a T-intersection. Turn right onto the Nature Track and follow it to Lillians Glen (the track to the left is where you will come up after finishing the canyon). Stay on the right hand side of the creek when you pass Lillians Bridge (although pause to look down into the canyon). Soon the track crosses the creek at a series of stepping stones, which marks the entry point to the lower section of canyon. There is a logbook on the left that assists with avoiding overcrowding, particularly at the abseil.
If you wish to visit the upper constriction, continue on the Nature Track towards Edinburgh Castle Rock. After another 400m, at a point where the track goes under a large overhanging cliff, you will see a track turn off down a gully. This junction is marked by a metal post with the number 8 on it. Move carefully down the gully, avoiding worsening the erosion of the hanging swamp.

Upper canyon section:

Walk down the creek for about 10 minutes to a point where it begins to narrow. Soon after this there is an awkward hand-over-hand down climb on the left hand side of a chock stone. The rock is slippery and footholds are limited, so be careful and avoid dropping into the pool as there are hidden obstacles.
Soon afterwards you will come to a 4m jump or slide. The pool is reasonably deep with a sandy bottom, but always check for logs that may have been washed down more recently.
Just after this pool you rejoin the Nature Track. Follow it a very short distance to the start of the lower constriction.

Lower canyon section:

This is the main section of the canyon, which is the only part most commercial and recreational groups visit.
After filling out the log book, simply follow the creek downstream. There are a number of short swims, jumps, slides, and downs climbs to negotiate. A hand-line or sling may be useful to assist beginners at several points.
The canyon is quite short, and after about half an hour you will reach the top of the abseil (it is possible to reverse the canyon from here).
There are two sets of bolts and chains, both of which take you down the 30m waterfall into a deep pool. The anchor on the right is trickier, taking you over a sharp overhang and down the main flow of water. The anchor on the left starts with an easier overhang and keeps you out of the waterfall for longer. It is possible to abseil to a ledge and jump the remainder of the drop.

Exit:

From the pool at the bottom of the abseil, simply follow the Valley of the Waters tourist track back up the cliff to the Conservation Hut. This short but steep exit includes quite a few stairs, but will have you back to your car in about 15 minutes. If you have time and energy, you can turn left at the junction with the Nature Track, head back to Lillians Glen, and do the canyon again!

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T2
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Re: Empress Canyon

Post by T2 » 25 Jul 2018, 15:56

Tom Brennan also has good notes for this canyon available here: http://ozultimate.com/canyoning/track_notes/empress.htm

Riri
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Re: Empress Canyon

Post by Riri » 18 Dec 2020, 13:22

I was looking to do Empress Falls Canyon tomorrow. First time doing canyons and I am not a strong swimmer though I can manage.

I was concerned as to the safety due to the rain from the storm.

I have been told it is dangerous to do Empress Falls due to the rain however I have also been told another commerical company that it's safe to do it with as they are experienced and the water level was not affected.

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T2
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Re: Empress Canyon

Post by T2 » 18 Dec 2020, 17:09

Rima, Empress has got a reasonably large catchment and is prone to flash flooding. That said, tomorrow's forecast is not particularly concerning. There's also lots of places to shelter and escape the canyon if needed. If you are going with a commercial operator, they will know the canyon extremely well and will be able to assess the safety of the water flow at the entry.

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DaveJones
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Re: Empress Canyon

Post by DaveJones » 18 Dec 2020, 17:57

As T2 said, if you are going with a commercial group they will know exactly what they are doing as they do this canyon every day. You can see and judge the water level from the walk in, so they will know what to look for.

alex.motyka
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Joined: 02 Mar 2020, 09:31
Full name: Alex Motyka
City: Sydney
State: New South Wales

Re: Empress Canyon

Post by alex.motyka » 21 Nov 2021, 10:46

Recently did upper section of Empress.
* The awkward hand over hand climb down now has a nice set of bolts so you can abseil this or use it as a nicer anchor point for a hand line. Approx length 3m. Located on river left
* Also there is now a set of bolts at the 4m jump on the river left. Nice safety addition that lets someone abseil down and check depth and for submerged obstacles before everyone else does the jump

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