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Karloo and Uloola Track Walk

Home > Sydney > Animals and Wildlife | Free | Outdoor | Parks | Walks
by Barry J (subscribe)
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Published October 19th 2018
The Best Things in Life are in Waterfalls
Hike the highlights of the Royal National Park on the 11km Uloola Track.

With train stations at either end of the track, it's easy to reach for a day's walk or a weekend adventure, camping overnight at the halfway point.

Stay cool in summer, dipping into the creeks, swimming holes and waterfall dotted along the track.

To begin, take the T4 Illawarra Line train to Heathcote Station, a 45-minute journey south from Central Station.

Walk east along Wilson St, past the flags of the Rural Fire and State Emergency Services stations. The ash from burnt trees may still stain part of the trail, either from planned hazard reduction burns or bush fires flaring on dry days.

Karloo Track
Karloo Track (by Philip Terry Graham at Flickr)


As the path descends, you'll enter Karloo Track. Spot tyre tracks in the dirt, with cyclists also riding the track.

Going deeper into nature, the rhythmic rattling from the railway will fade beneath the trickling water at Heathcote Brook.

You'll rise up the valley to reach rocky shelves and ridges. Scan the tips of these for rock warblers. To escape the reach of hungry cats and foxes, they've camped in nests hanging to the rock rim. Against the whaleback pattern of the sandstone, they can hide from sight but their birdsong still echoes over the valley.

Sandstone whaleback waves
Sandstone waves (by Norm_Bosworth at pixabay)


Continue past flowering natives, including gymea lilies, bursting in a bold red and stretching over 4 metres tall in summer, making it the world's largest. In spring, the heath livens with colour as wildflowers blossom. Green and sandy hues of the flora contrast with the deep blues on the horizon sky.

Gymea lily
Gymea lily (by Tatters at Flickr)


Forge on along the ridge, into the rising sun if you started early. After about 2 kilometres, you'll hit Karloo Pools, fed by the same brook you crossed at the start of your trek. Catch your breath with a snack and a swim.

Before diving in, check the freshwater for lizards and birds, also cooling down at their local watering hole. Don't be tempted to sip the water unless you boil it or use purification tablets.

After your swim, you can head back along the track for home, or keep going to reach another waterfall about 2kms distant.

Climb out of the valley as it heats up. Once you reach the peak, breath in the crisp, clear air as you ponder the park from a bird's-eye view.

Traversing rocks might make it difficult to keep on the track, but you should be heading southward. Keep your bearings with bright yellow and red stripes daubed onto the rock walls

As you near the falls, you'll descend again, veering south-east. Follow the sound of cascading water to reach your goal - Uloola Falls.

Uloola Falls
Uloola Falls (by Sardaka at Wikipedia)


At the falls, you can take another swim, letting the waterfall thunder against your shoulders. You can also camp here, making use of the toilet. Again, resist the urge to drink the inviting water. If you are camping, be sure to book first with the visitor centre.

Uloola Track
Uloola Track (by brownsdj at Flickr)


Share the sunrise with the chirping, tweeting, chattering animals and insects. Once packed, continue south-west onto Uloola Track and rise back over the ridge.

As the track eases, you'll see more reminders that fires flare through this valley. You'll enter the fire trail used by firefighters to reach danger zones and isolate bushfires.

Press on before your imagination tricks you into smelling smoke, returning to civilisation - in the form of a cricket oval.

From the oval, follow the signs leading you to your final destination, Waterfall Station (the only waterfall on your journey that doesn't have a waterfall).


What's your favourite spot on the Track? We'd love to hear your comments.





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Why? Swim the Royal's Best Waterfall
When: Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Phone: Royal National Park Visitor Centre (02) 9542 0648
Where: Heathcote, NSW
Cost: Free!
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