Karloo Walking Track to Karloo Pools in Royal National Park

The Karloo Walking Track to Karloo Pools near Heathcote is a fantastic bushwalking trail to a beautiful natural waterhole in the Royal National Park.

With rock ledges surrounding the large pool and covered areas nearby to place your belongings, Karloo Pools almost looks like an actual man-made swimming pool in the middle of the bush.

A moderately challenging 2.5 km section of the Karloo Track will get you to this unique spot, with the option to continue walking to Uloola Falls.

Karloo Walking Track to Karloo Pools
Distance: 2.5 km (one way)
Duration: 1 hour
Grade: Moderate (some steep sections)
Dogs: Not allowed

How to Get There

Since the start of the walking track to Karloo Pools is so close to Heathcote station, travelling by train to do this walk is a good option.

Heathcote station is serviced via the T4 Eastern Suburbs and the SCO South Coast train lines, with good connections to the city and Bondi Junction.

Driving there is also easy, with free parking available at or near the station. Wilson Parade, behind the station, is the best option (see map location).

The track starts at this signpost on Wilson Parade:

Starting point of the Karloo Track in Heathcote
Starting point of the Karloo Track in Heathcote

There is no need to pay any park entry fees because this area is located just outside the National Park boundaries.


Here is a map of the walking track to Karloo Pools in Royal National Park, starting from the Heathcote station precinct:

Map of the Karloo Pools walking track

Heathcote to Karloo Pools Track Notes

While the track to Karloo Pools may be short, there are some steep sections (that you will feel on the way back!), and the surface can sometimes be a bit rough and uneven.

It’s certainly not a challenging walk at all, but it’s recommended to wear good shoes and bring a filled water bottle with you.

Official starting point of the Karloo Track to Karloo Pools
Official starting point of the Karloo Track

At the signpost on Wilson Parade, turn left, heading into bushland away from the road. This is where you are entering the Royal National Park.

Follow the track until you see another signpost (see picture above), which marks the official starting point of the Karloo Track.

The path to Karloo Pools
The path to Karloo Pools

From there, the track to Karloo Pools is a pretty straightforward hike and is very easy to navigate.

The path is quite uneven in some places, so it’s important to be careful and to keep a close eye on the surface you’re walking on.

Scenery along the Karloo Track

The scenery along the way is pretty diverse and interesting, with a mix of heathland, rainforest, and lots of rocks and boulders.

As soon as you start hearing the gentle sound of streaming water, that’s when you know you’re getting closer to Karloo Pools.

Lots of boulders along the Karloo Track

This is where the track meets and crosses Kangaroo Creek, with Karloo Pools as a beautiful natural attraction.

Karloo Pools

When you arrive at Karloo Pools, you will immediately realise why this is one of the most popular natural swimming holes in Sydney.

The main water hole, Karloo Pool, is about 15 metres wide and 30 metres long and looks stunning. The pool is surrounded by trees and flat rocky areas.

Karloo Pools in Royal National Park
Karloo Pools

When the water is clear, it’s hard to resist the temptation to go for a swim.

But there is no need to resist that temptation after all that hiking. It is relatively safe to access the pool, so by all means, go for it.

Karloo Pools
Karloo Pools

However, keep in mind that it can get quite busy at Karloo Pools, especially on the weekends and during school holidays.

For the best experience and to avoid the crowds, it’s recommended to go on a weekday or otherwise early on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

When swimming in Karloo Pools, keep the following in mind:

  • It’s deep:
    The middle of the pool is quite deep, so if you’re not a good swimmer, it’s best not to go in or stay close to the edges.
  • It’s slippery:
    It’s slippery on the rocks surrounding the pool, so don’t run into the water, and be cautious at all times.
  • Don’t jump:
    As tempting as it may be to jump in, there are large rocks in the water that you can’t always see from above, so don’t jump or dive into the pool.
  • Don’t leave rubbish:
    As always, don’t leave rubbish behind in the bush.
  • Check the water quality:
    The water quality may not always be good, especially when it hasn’t rained for a while. The quality of the water is typically much better when there is more flow in the creek.
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More Hiking

The track to Karloo Pools is relatively short, but if you want to do a longer or more challenging bushwalk, there are some options to consider.

1. Karloo Track to Uloola Falls

From Karloo Pools, the Karloo Track continues to Uloola Falls, which is an extra section of 2 km worth of bushwalking through similar scenery.

Uloola Falls may not be as picturesque as Karloo Pools, but walking there is still very much worth the extra effort.

Karloo Track to Uloola Falls signpost
Continue to Uloola Falls

As with most waterfalls, Uloola Falls is at its best after a period of rainfall.

Unfortunately, this also means that the waterfall is hardly visible after an extended period of dry and sunny weather. But even so, the hike there is an enjoyable bushwalk.

2. Uloola Falls to Waterfall Station

Once you’re at Uloola Falls, you can continue hiking all the way to Waterfall train station, which is an extra 6 km.

This walking track (Uloola Track), combined with the Karloo Track, forms the Heathcote to Waterfall walking track and is approximately 11 km in length.

Map of the walking track between Heathcote and Waterfall

The great thing about the Heathcote to Waterfall walking track is that you can use public transport at both ends of the walk, with two train stations on the same line.

This means that you can also start this walk from Waterfall station and see the two highlights (Uloola Falls and Karloo Pools) in the second part of the walk.

In the map above, the milestones along this walk are as follows:

A: Heathcote
B: Karloo Pools
C: Uloola Falls
D: Waterfall


Discover Karloo Pools in Royal National Park


Published: December 20, 2020
Updated: May 5, 2024

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AJ Mens

AJ Mens is a digital publisher based in Sydney, Australia, and the editor-in-chief of Sydney Uncovered and Blue Mountains Uncovered.

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