The Uloola Track is a train-station-to-train-station hike in the Royal National Park and is a stunning day outing from Sydney in Australia’s first (and the world’s second!)national park.
Need To Know
Description: Station-to-Station Hike
Time: 3-5 Hours
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 – Longish day walk; some rock clambering
The Uloola track located within the Royal National Park is a stunning day outing from Sydney in Australia’s first (and the world’s second) national park. It’s a mere one-hour train trip from the city to Heathcote station; you train back from Waterfall station, making for a neat round-trip adventure!
The trail goes up and down gullies and through deep prehistoric undergrowth. It passes a series of rock pools, including the ridiculously picturesque Karloo Pools, one of my favourite natural swimming holes in NSW, with rocky flats that are perfect for picnicking on. It’s very easy to forget you’re so close to civilisation.
Distance: 11.3 km single track
Difficulty: A moderate walk and perfect for fit beginners. A very well-marked trail, too.
Sarah’s Top Three Tips
1. Set aside the day and stop for a swim and picnic at Karloo Pools.
2. Try to do this as a train trip hike – it’s one ride back and forth from Central Station (on the Bondi Junction line) and the stations are right at the start and finish of the walk.
3. If you go on a Sunday the train tickets are a fixed (cheap) price for everyone, regardless of the distance.
Travel by train, but if you drive from Sydney there is parking available at both stations.
Note – You will need to catch the train from Waterfall back to Heathcote to collect your car at the end.
From Wild and Precious
“The trail wound up and down gullies and through deep prehistoric undergrowth. It passed a series of pools and rocky flats. I didn’t stop to swim; I had a
surfeit of adrenaline that I had to pump out of my being. The whipping birds were at it, the warm morning exciting them into a chatty crescendo.”
Buy This One Wild and Precious Life
From Heathcote Station, this walk heads south-east along Wilson Parade following the railway tracks. Shortly after passing the emergency services centre, the track comes to an intersection with a bush track signposted as the ‘Karloo Track’.
At the intersection of Wilson Parade and the bush track at the large sign saying ‘Karloo Track’ turn left and head behind the Rural Firefighting Station joining the bush track. Gradually head south and slightly downhill until reaching Heathcote Brook. Shortly after, the track comes to an intersection with another bush track. Make sure you veer left.
The track gradually rises onto the ridge-line and continues east before beginning to gradually drop down off the ridge, along the slightly rougher bush track, until reaching Karloo Pools.
This would be a good spot to take a break and get your toes wet.
After a swim, head straight following the ‘Waterfall via Uloola Falls’ arrow up the hill between the rocks and along the rocky bush track. The track climbs up, then it flattens briefly, passing a sign pointing back to ‘Heathcote’, before continuing up another long rocky hill to the top of the ridge.
From the top of the hill, the track continues through trees then scrub. Follow the yellow painted markers on the rocks!
Now you head back down hill, turn right and you hit the Uloola Brook. Step across and you pass the sign with arrows to ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Heathcote’ before coming to ‘Uloola Falls Bush Campground’.
From the south-west end of the campsite, veer up to the right along the rough track. This continues for approximately 150m until reaching a small clearing (marked with a post with a ‘no camping’ symbol). On the southern end of the clearing, the walk connects with a management trail, marked as the ‘Uloola Fire Trail’. The walk follows the trail for approximately 530m until coming to an easy-to-miss intersection with a bush track (on your right), where the main trail bends fairly distinctly left.
Turn left, uphill, onto the Uloola Brook Bushtrack. The trail winds up the hill, then across the ridge to the intersection marked by the ‘Couranga Track’ sign. Continue straight following the ‘Waterfall’ arrow along the sandy management trail eventually heading around a locked gate and arriving at a (often) overgrown cricket oval.
Veer right around the right-hand edge of the oval, coming to the intersection of a signposted bush track. The walk follows this track through the dense scrub, passing through some ferns before coming out behind Waterfall station car park. Head up to the left, to the road bridge, crossing the railway line to the ramp (which goes down onto the platform).
Turn It Into An Adventure!
Make it an overnight adventure
You could turn your hike into an overnight adventure and stay at the very pretty
Uloola Falls Campground. There’s usually clean water in the nearby creek, and a pit loo.
Make it longer
Loop back to Heathcote along Karloo walking track or continue on to Audley.