In February, we expertly picked the hottest, most humid and sweltering day of the year to go on a long hike. We explored a different part of the park this time as previously the experience had focused on hiking the Royal National Park Coast Track – and we were also very fortunate to have a friend along who had hiked this path many times. For this adventure, we parked in Heathcote and did an extended loop from Engadaine Track to Uloola Track to Karloo Track and back to Heathcote. The main objective of the hike was to see Kangaroo Creek, Uloola Falls and Karloo pool and take refreshing dips in each of those spots along the way. Let’s just stay, that’s not quite what ended up happening! It was still a lovely ~14KM bushwalk, nonetheless! Here are the highlights.
We started the hike nice and early, and were on the Engadine Track by about 830am. It only took about 40 minutes to get from our parking spot in Heathcote down to Kangaroo Creek. Sadly, the weather had been so hot and dry in NSW the prior few weeks that the creek was low, buggy and not quite something you would have wanted to splash into. It was still a refreshingly quiet and contemplative spot to relax a bit before starting an uphill stretch of the trek.
After climbing up out of the valley, you are treated to the most majestic part of the whole bushwalk: meandering along Gurrumboola Ridge line via the Uloola Track. This section of the trail goes on for about 5 KMs and continuously alternates you from dense bush to wide open vistas and rocky outcroppings. If you don’t like feeling grasses rub up against your legs during hikes, I would suggest wearing long pants for this one.
Not gonna lie (but am gonna get a bit hippy-dippy-new-agey), there was something totally inspiring about standing here and taking in the view at the cliff’s edge along the ridge. It was one of those moments in life where you desperately wanted the ability to fly.
We were also treated to regular visits from the largest ants I had ever seen. They are called bull ants and WOW are they aggressive and absolutely fearless. We would see them along some of the sandier bits of trail out in the open and although you’d imagine this type of tiny creature would run from humans…these guys did the exact opposite. They would rear up, take a threatening stance and run towards you, not away. Terrifying little guys! Also, pretty damn cool. 😉 If I had some extra time, I would totally stamp “You Shall Not Pass!” in a thought bubble on this little guy:
After completing the ridge line section of the hike, we were absolutely drenched in sweat and eager to reward ourselves with a plunge in the famed Uloola Falls. I’m told that normally, they are a beautiful site to see, with multiple cascades running over the edge of a cliff and creating a beautiful little swimming hole. In keeping with the same weather-related impact that deflated our dip at Kangaroo Creek, Uloola Falls was the same story. In fact, there were no falls whatsoever!
Those are my feet standing where a rush of water should have been pouring over the edge… 😦
…and the pool at the base of the ‘falls’ was sadly just a fetid pond during our visit. It definitely makes me want to go back and see what the Uloola hype is all about! And it goes without saying that we did NOT strip down and hop in. I’m all for this whole “YOLO” thing the youngins like to say but to keep the “L” in there, you also have to make good decisions hehehe
Thankfully, all was not lost. From Uloola Falls, it was a comparatively short hike to the well-known Karloo Pool. And this place totally delivered. There were several locals already enjoying a swim in the natural pool and we joined in the fun (although I couldn’t fully submerge as my tattoo was still healing). Man, it was so refreshing to cool down and enjoy something as wild and wonderful as Karloo. Add it to your life list!
After a re-charging at the au-naturale pool for a bit, we hiked the last few KMs out of Royal National Park and back to the car in Heathcote. We were exhausted but extremely happy to have had the experience. If I had to rate the whole hike, I would give it a 7/10 and would argue that the ridge line view was the key selling point. Maybe if we go back after a bit of a rain and get to experience Kangaroo Creek and Uloola Falls in all their glory, I’ll change my POV. Thanks for joining on this adventure, readers! XOXO -JW