The Greater Sydney area is so rich in convenient bush walks. Most aren’t far by car or bike, but the Karloo Pools Walk wins the prize for easy accessibility – it’s literally next to a train station.
The Karloo Pools and Uloola Falls track is a 10km bush walk that begins next to Heathcote Train Station and ends at Waterfall Station (one station south).
You can start the walk from either station but since I like to start hard and finish easy, I recommend starting at Heathcote.
Once at the station, walk away from the Princes Highway, towards Wilson Parade. Turn right (south) past the fire trucks parked in their garages at the SES headquarters and you’ll see the entry signage to the Karloo Walking Track.
The Karloo Walking Track
The walk starts easily, a stroll through semi-landscaped native bush, along a walk behind a row of houses. Gymea Lily bushes spike upwards in glorious symmetry, gums flank the path and the Wattle Birds sing above.
The walk then starts a slow and relatively easy slope down. The pathway stays a half metre wide at a minimum, with the surface changing every 20 metres or so – gravel, ochre and clay, pebbles.
Accessibility for those with more limited ability (or sore knees!) becomes harder when you’re tasked with small jumps down rocky outcrops. Be careful not to slip.
You’ll walk, jump, meander and slide for approximately 2.5kms, parallel to the Heathcote Brook. Be sure to turn your best hearing on…if you pay attention, you’ll hear the Pools before you see them; a distant trickle that precludes your wander out onto a flat rock. Welcome to the riverbed.
Welcome to Karloo Pools
This is a popular swimming and picnicking spot, so it’s the perfect time to pop open your lunchbox and pull out your water bottle. Dangle your feet into the freshwater pool and see if an eel comes by to tickle your tootsies :). I can imagine that historically these pools have always been a place of community,to gather, swim, eat, drink and laugh since the dawn of time.
(Here I remind you as always, leave no trace. Collect your rubbish and take it with you, home.)
Onto Uloola Falls
Continuing across the flat rock mouth of the pools, and continuing up on a gentle right, you’ll find the start of the Uloola track, the ochre track that leads to the waterfalls.
Here we found an Eastern Water Dragon. Little one he was. Too cute. His head was as big as your thumb.
The walk now is narrower, dustier and with an upwards gradient. While it’s no stroll in the park, it’s not too difficult to reach a fork in the path. There are no signs to advise you of the way, so here it is – hook a LEFT and up the steep rocky trail. Do not continue straight – apparently that goes to a river lookout and away from where you’re planning to go.
The steep section here is a bit tough, but brief, and once you’re at the top again, the landscape flattens out to brush and grassland. Orienteering flags, ribbons and markings can help you get to the falls. There’s a section here that is just grey, washed out large, flat boulders. Cut a straight line over them.
A warning, delicate petals! This section is in full sun. There is nil cover, and you’re going to need your water and a hat here.
I enjoy this section, being the nature lover. The birds are plentiful and their song fills the air. Australian birds are either squawky or flirty. Here, they’re the latter 🙂
After a good, solid walking session, the greenery changes, signalling the approach of the waterfalls. Excitedly, I hurried my pace, very keen to see the gushing water and even consider a swim!
We got there though, and sat ‘in’ the waterfall instead. It was more like an ‘air’ fall.
Oh well! In all fairness, it would be a great place to visit if there were water.
The Uloola waterfall area has a campground approximately 100 metres past the waterfall. If you continue in the direction you came from, across the ‘mouth of the waterfall’ (or along the edge of the cliff), the trail continues again. After a quick jaunt, the campground, toilets and signage appear.
Uloola Trail continues nice and easy to complete the loop, with a wide, gravelly, tree-lined fire trail that leads you back towards the station. It’s long, at more than half the total loop, but it’s not taxing to walk – the upwards slope is a barely distinguishable. You have more than enough mental and physical energy to take in the pretty flowers and interesting sights.
One final tip: Try to time the conclusion of your walk with the train timetable! On weekends, particularly. It is no fun waiting for the train…
…but it is a nice little luxury choo-choo-chooing back to the car.
We’ll go again to find the elusive waterfall sometime soon.
You’ll find the Karloo Walking Trail entrance behind Heathcote Station. Enjoy!