Wentworth Falls, New South Wales: Travel guide and things to do

Wentworth Falls is named after William Charles Wentworth who, together with Lawson and Blaxland, successfully discovered a route across the mountains in 1813. The three men camped in the area during their trek. It was initially known by the very unromantic name of The Weatherboard, after a weatherboard hut built here in 1814 by William Cox while he was building the first road over the Blue Mountains.

In 1815 Governor Macquarie camped at The Weatherboard and bestowed upon the area some of its present European names, including Kings Tableland, the Jamison Valley (named after Macquarie's friend who lived on the banks of the Nepean River to the east), Pitt's Amphitheatre (after the British prime minister) and Prince Regent's Glen (after the Prince of Wales who became George IV in 1820). He also gave Wentworth Falls the name 'Campbell's Cataract' after his secretary.

In 1826 William Boyles built an inn called the Bathurst Traveller. However, the weight of the area's European name asserted itself and it became known as 'the Weatherboard Inn'. It turned out to be one of the major inns on the road through the mountains. The adventurer James Backhouse noted the structure in his memoirs after staying there in 1835: 'After travelling eighteen miles, we arrived at the Weather-board hut where we had intended to lodge; but the only good room was occupied. One in which we had an excellent meal of beef and bread, with tea, was without glass in the windows, and could not have the door shut, for the smoking of the wood fire.' In 1836 Charles Darwin also stopped briefly at the Inn. When the railway arrive in 1867 (it remained the terminus for the railway for nearly a year) the siding was called Weatherboard. It was in 1879 that it was changed to Wentworth Falls.

Things to see

Grand View Hotel
The original Grand View Hotel was built during the boom in tourism to the Blue Mountains in 1883. The present building at 174 Great Western Highway was completed in 1930. It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.

Walking Tracks in the Wentworth Falls Area
Just west of Wentworth Falls Railway Station, on the southern side of the Highway, is Falls Road which heads south out to Wentworth Falls Reserve. Near the end of Falls Rd, Fletcher St heads west out to Valley of the Waters Reserve. These two reserves are the starting points for the walks in the area. The booklet, 'Walking Tracks in the Wentworth Falls Area', prepared by the National Parks & Wildlife Service, provides an excellent contour map and details of these walks.

From Wentworth Falls Reserve there is a 1-km return walk to Princes Rock which offers excellent views of Wentworth Falls and the Jamison Valley. There are rock overhangs, waterfalls, facilities and birdlife, all in a rainforest setting. A walk of medium difficulty it includes steps. Another 1-km walk is the scenic Weeping Rock Circuit Walk (medium difficulty with steps). This reserve is also the most logical departure point for Fletchers Lookout and Rocket Point Lookout, offering excellent views of the Kings Tableland escarpment, Wentworth Falls and Queens Cascades.

From Valley of the Waters Reserve it is possible to take the 3-km Nature Circuit Track (medium difficulty with steps) which is a scenic walk taking in Asmodeus Pool and Edinburgh Castle Rock. This is the logical departure point for the Queen Victoria Lookout, Lyre Bird Lookout, Empress Falls, Sylvia Falls, Lodard Falls, Vera Falls and Gladstone Lookout. Den Fenella Lookout, Lady Sees Lookout and Breakfast Point Lookout lie along walking tracks which run between the two reserves.

Either reserve is a suitable starting point for the Over/Under Cliff Walks (3 km one way, of medium difficulty), the National Pass Circuit Walk (4 km) and the 5-km Wentworth Pass Circuit Walk. Both of the latter are difficult going involving many steps and, in the latter case, ladders.

Bushwalkers should note that, owing to the Christmas 2001 bushfires, there were some track closures in the area. For further information ring the National Parks and Wildlife Service on (02) 4787 8877.


Yester Grange
No longer open to the public Yester Grange is one of the most significant buildings in Wentworth Falls. It is a Victorian country house built in 1890 by the retired sea captain John Smith who named it after Yester House in Gifford, near Edinburgh. It was built of weatherboard and designed by James Barnet, the son of the colonial architect who designed the GPO in Sydney.

It was soon sold to Sir John See (Premier of New South Wales from 1901-04) who used it as his summer residence. It was common at the time for the wealthy of Sydney to retreat to the cool of the mountains from the heat of Sydney. The Smiths added the two rear wings and ballroom in 1889 and it remained in the family until 1938. The initials of Smith and his wife are intertwined on the doors in the hall.

From the wide front verandahs there are views across towards Wentworth Falls Lake (a dam built across Jamison Creek in 1903), Mount Solitary and Sublime Point. Sadly it is now no longer open to the public. It is being used for private functions and is not open to the public.

Yester Grange is located on Yester Rd. To get there turn south into Tableland Rd, about 1.5 km east of the railway station. Almost immediately there is a right turn into Yester Rd.

Kings Tableland Observatory
This astronomical observatory furnishes fabulous views of the southern skies and is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 8.00 p.m. It is located on Hordern Rd which runs off Tableland Rd a short way south of Yester Rd, tel: (02) 4757 2954.

Kings Tableland
Further south along Tableland Road is Sunset Rock Lookout which furnishes excellent views. Kings Tableland was named by Governor Macquarie owing to the sublimity of the dramatic views it furnishes across the Jamison Valley.

This area has a number of important Aboriginal sites, such as a rock shelter and tool-sharpening grooves, which are clearly marked. Carbon dating from a nearby cave indicates that Aborigines were living in this area at least 22 000 years ago.

McMahon's Lookout
A side road leads off Tableland Rd to McMahon's Lookout, although it is 20 km from Tableland Rd and only accessible via 4WD. However, it does afford excellent views over the backwaters of Lake Burragorang.

Wentworth Falls Lake
At the western end of Wentworth Falls, Sinclair Crescent heads north off the highway and follows a section of the railway line past Wentworth Falls Lake which was created as a reservoir for the railway by placing a concrete dam across Jamison Creek in 1878. It is now a popular picnic spot with ducks, an adventure playground and barbecue facilities.

Hobby's Reach Historical Research Centre
Sinclair Crescent runs into Blaxland Road. Turn left into Blaxland Rd which follows the original route of William Cox's 1814 road over the Blue Mountains. About 2.5 km along this road is the Research Centre of the Blue Moun tains Historical Society. It is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10.00 a.m. to midday for personal research and enquiries.

Also on the site is historic Tarella Cottage which is open four weekends a year. Each opening has a specific theme. See the society's website for more details: http://infobluemountains.net.au/bmhs

At the other (southern) end of Blaxland Rd is Station St, adjacent the railway station and Coronation Park. William Cox built a depot here in 1814. It became known as 'The Weatherboard', which was taken up as the name of the locality until 1879. The site of the Weatherboard Inn (1833) is denoted by an historical marker and the oak tree was planted to commemorate an 1836 visit to the inn by famous naturalist Charles Darwin.