Rescued Podcast // Ep 003 – Matt U’Brien – Empress Canyon

In 2020 over 3.7 million people from Australia and overseas visited the Blue Mountains – The most visited National Park in New South Wales. They’re drawn to the dramatic clifftop views, deep valleys and diverse habitats that stretch over the 1 million hectares of this World Heritage sandstone plateaux, a landscape that is constantly being carved by water and reveals itself through waterfalls and canyons. 

Today, I have the honour of welcoming back to the podcast, Matthew U’Brien, who in the last episode shared his powerful story of life within his 17 year policing career.

Most of that was in Police Rescue in the Blue Mountains, and now his challenging journey outside, where he’s advocating for better mental health outcomes for emergency services, first responders. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I strongly recommend you do that first. So pop out and then return back here. 

In this episode, Matt’s going to take us inside Empress Canyon, the most popular of the Blue Mountains canyons, when during a regular day at work, he found himself moving from rescuer to needing rescue. 

View on Zencastr


Download the transcript here.

Where is Matt today?

Today, he’s on a different journey, one that comes as a consequence of his years spent serving the community, often being alongside people on the worst day of their lives. This year will see him travel 2,400 km from the Lambert centre of Australia (Heart of Country), to Parliament House in Canberra (Heart of Nation), with a critical message for our Country’s leaders.

He is host of the Heart to Heart Walk Podcast, where we hear stories from current and past emergency services workers and look at the critical issue of first responder mental health.

The podcast is part of the Heart to Heart Walk project that we hear about in our episode.

You can get in touch with Matt here.

Trigger warning

The content in this episode may be confronting and difficult for some listeners; it includes issues of PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicide and trauma. Remember, if you need help, reach out by Googling ‘Mental Health Helpline’ in your area.

In Australia, you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14 or visit

Further urgent help and information for first responders can be found at Phoenix Australia.

Thanks to

Sponsor // Paddy Pallin

Rescued Podcast main photo // Ben Cirulis and

Nature SFX // [Kangaroo Vindaloo and Monkey Pants]

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

Join my eNewsletter and get the latest articles, videos, pics and inspiration.
No charge. No spam. Only love.