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Uloola Falls: How to Get to the Bottom of This Epic Waterfall

Uloola Falls: How to Get to the Bottom of This Epic Waterfall

Uloola Falls is a stunning waterfall tucked away at the Uloola Falls Campground in Sydney’s Royal National Park. Despite the Royal National Park being the second-most visited national park in Australia, Uloola Falls barely gets a look in! This is probably because it’s a seasonal waterfall. So, sometimes, you’ll get nada when it’s running dry. But, if you time your visit after a healthy spell of rain, Uloola Falls comes to life and is truly a spectacular waterfall worth chasing along the Uloola (or Karloo) Walking Track.

Now, visiting Uloola Falls is one thing, but getting to the bottom of the falls is another thing. Not many people know that there’s a hidden trail that accesses the bottom of the waterfall. We can confirm that from the base of the falls, you can see much more of the enticing waterfall.

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Uloola Falls. This will include details about how to get to the bottom of it!

Read about the best waterfalls in Sydney

About Uloola Falls

Uloola Falls is easily one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Royal National Park. Although it’s known to locals and avid bushwalkers in Sydney, this waterfall flies under the radar. It’s nowhere near as well known as other waterfalls in the national park such as Curracurrong Falls, Wattamolla Falls and Winifred Falls. Yet, it’s just as mesmerising!

If you’re looking to chase the best waterfalls in Sydney, you’ll definitely need to add Uloola Falls to your list. But, as mentioned, it’s a seasonal waterfall. So, you should only visit them after reasonable bouts of rainfall. Don’t even bother rocking up during a drought as there will be no waterfall to see. With this in mind, it’s possible that the waterfall is better to visit outside of summer when there is usually more rainfall.

So, when the time is right, we recommend chasing this underrated waterfall. When you do, you’ll want to know about your route options for reaching the falls and also how to get to the base of it. In this guide, we’ll cover all of those bits of information.

To get the ball rolling, let’s start by looking at the exact location of the waterfall.

A lower tier of cascades found at Uloola Falls at the Uloola Falls Campground along the Uloola Walking Track

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Where Is Uloola Falls?

You’ll find the waterfall at the Uloola Falls Campground in the Royal National Park in New South Wales. The waterfall is located south of the Sydney CBD near Heathcote and Waterfall.

A map showing where the Uloola Falls Campground is located
Uloola Falls Campground map

How to Find Uloola Falls

To reach Uloola Falls, you’re going to have to walk to them. There is no Uloola Falls parking area or anything like that. The waterfall is hidden deep in the heart of the Royal National Park and can only be accessed by using walking tracks.

There are actually two walking tracks that lead directly to the waterfall – the Uloola Walking Track and Karloo Walking Track. Plus, there are plenty of route options and variations, which include visiting Uloola Falls. Below, we’ll talk through the best bush walks for chasing the waterfall.

The base of a multi-tier cascade waterfall called Uloola Falls, which is near Uloola Falls Campground and found along the Uloola Walking Track

Uloola Falls Walk Options

We think there are two standout route options to see Uloola Falls. One option includes walking the Karloo Walking Track (AKA the Karloo Track) as an out and back. The other option is doing the point to point (one way walk) between Waterfall and Heathcote Train Stations, using both the Uloola Walking Track (AKA the Uloola Track) and Karloo Walking Track.

One of the best things about either option is that you’ll see the immense Karloo Pools as well. Karloo Pools is a well-known emerald-coloured swimming hole fed by both Kangaroo Creek and Heathcote Brook. It’s another phenomenal natural attraction in the Royal National Park. If you haven’t visited either Karloo Pool or Uloola Falls, both of these walking options are logical choices.

Below, we’ll detail the trail specs and briefly describe each of these two route options.

An empty trail through bushland
Karloo Walking Track

1. Karloo Walking Track: Out and Back Walk

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 9.7km
  • Time: 2.5–3.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 335 metres
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Heathcote Station
  • Map: AllTrails
An emerald-coloured swimming hole called Karloo Pools surrounded by bushland
Karloo Pools

Heathcote Station to Uloola Falls via Karloo Pools

From Heathcote Station, you’ll follow the Karloo Walking Track to Uloola Falls via Karloo Pools. This is the option that Beck and I chose to do and highly recommend as it’s an enjoyable route. To find out more about this walk, please read our trail description below.

2. Uloola and Karloo Walking Tracks: One Way Walk

  • Type: One way
  • Distance: 10.9km
  • Time: 3–4 hours hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 295 metres
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Waterfall or Heathcote Train Stations
  • Map: AllTrails
A narrow and shallow orange-coloured creek bed called Uloola Brook
Uloola Brook at Uloola Falls Campground

Waterfall to Heathcote via Uloola Falls & Karloo Pools

The other option is to walk from Waterfall Station to Uloola Falls via the Uloola Fire Trail, which forms part of the Uloola Walking Track. Then, instead of walking back to Waterfall Station, you’ll follow the Karloo Walking Track to reach Heathcote Station via Karloo Pools. If you choose this option, you’ll just need to get a train from Heathcote to Waterfall. Otherwise, you could car shuffle with your mates.

Or Heathcote to Waterfall via Karloo Pools & Uloola Falls

Of course, you can do this point to point walk in either direction. You can walk from Heathcote Station to Uloola Falls via Karloo Pools along the Karloo Walking Track. From Uloola Falls, you’ll then continue along the Uloola Fire Trail to Waterfall Station.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which direction you do the point to point walk.

Compared with doing the Karloo Walking Track out and back option, the point to point walk options are slightly longer. But, the point to point options mean you won’t be walking back on yourself, which means exploring more trails.

Essentially, in terms of choosing a walking route option, it’s a win-win situation. Either is good! As mentioned, Beck and I chose to do the Karloo Walking Track out and back option as it was slightly shorter, which worked well for us as we had a lot planned that day. But, the point to point option seems equally good to us!

Other Uloola Falls Walk Options

For thoroughness, here are two other options for reaching Uloola Falls.

  • Audley to Uloola Falls: it’s possible to walk from Audley to Uloola Falls via the Uloola Walking Track. This is another reasonable option, but you miss out on seeing Karloo Pools.
  • Waterfall to Uloola Falls: it’s possible to do an out and back walk from Waterfall Station to Uloola Falls via the Uloola Walking Track. But, this isn’t a great option. That’s because the Karloo Pools Walking Track out and back option involves a short walk with the extra benefit of seeing Karloo Pools. Additionally, if you want to see Uloola Falls from Waterfall Station, it makes more sense to do the shorter point to point walk to Heathcote. As mentioned, you’ll then get a train back or do a car shuffle back to Waterfall.

Karloo Walking Track: Our Experience

Seeing Uloola Falls via the Karloo Walking Track is an excellent trail option. Below, we’ll talk about this walk that we did in a bit more detail. This will include details about getting to the bottom of the waterfall!

Dan stands by a small cave shelter

Heathcote Station to Karloo Pools

Near Heathcote Station, you’ll find signage at the trailhead for the Karloo Walking Track. Along the gently descending track, you’ll cross Heathcote Brook, pass sensational rocky outcrops and walk along huge slabs of smooth sandstone. Eventually, you’ll reach the serene Karloo Pools. By visiting on a sunny day, Karloo Pools come to life with a more vivid emerald-green colour.

Undoubtedly, seeing Karloo Pools is a highlight of this walk. But, we know you’re lusting for a magnificent waterfall!

An emerald-coloured natural pool called Karloo Pools surrounded by bushland

Karloo Pools to Uloola Falls

From Karloo Pools, you’ll continue along the Karloo Walking Track towards the Uloola Falls Campground. In total, from Karloo Pools to Uloola Falls, you’ll walk around 2.3km on a gradually ascending and winding trail. So, get ready for a decent workout!

Eventually, you’ll reach Uloola Brook, which is the source of Uloola Falls. To your right, you’ll see the narrow flowing creek, which flows over the sandstone cliff to create the falls. At this point of the walk, you won’t see much of the waterfall. So, make sure you continue to the Uloola Falls Campground. From there, turn left onto the Uloola Walking Track, which heads in the direction of Audley.

After a short distance, you’ll enjoy a better view of the top of the falls. This is the view that some people will find but then leave thereafter. We highly recommend getting to the bottom of the falls to see even more of the waterfall.

The top of a waterfall called Uloola Falls, which is near Uloola Falls Campground along the Uloola Walking Track

Getting to the Bottom of Uloola Falls

To get to the bottom of the falls, you’ll need to find an unmarked and unofficial side trail, shooting off the Uloola Walking Track.

A map with the location of Karloo Track, Uloola Track, the Uloola Falls Campground and Uloola Falls, illustrates how to get to the base of Uloola Falls
Uloola Falls map – how to get to the base

Basically, from the Uloola Falls Campground, along the Uloola Walking Track, you’ll pass the viewpoint we just described, and then a short distance after (perhaps another 30 metres or so), you’ll find a steep trail, to your left, descending into the bushland. Now, this trail isn’t for the faint-hearted or less experienced bushwalker. It’s a steep and demanding trail, which requires agility, steadiness and near-scrambling.

If you’re able to descend this trail safely, then go for it! What awaits you at the bottom of Uloola Falls are some of the finest views of the waterfall, which are otherwise hidden from view.

Uloola Falls to Heathcote Station

Once you’ve explored Uloola Falls, you’ll simply retrace your steps back to Heathcote Station to complete the walk. Don’t forget to check out the awesome viewpoints from the Uloola Turrets, which are found between Uloola Falls and Karloo Pools.

Views of the bushland from a prominent rock formation
Uloola Turrets

Things to Know Before Going to Uloola Falls

So, there you have it – you can now plan your walking route to Uloola Falls and know how to get to the bottom of the falls! Now, we’ll look at some other useful things to know to help plan your trip.

How to Get to Uloola Falls

Assuming you’re starting the walk from Heathcote and have a car, we recommend parking for free at the roadside parking area on Wilson Parade outside of Heathcote Station. It’s opposite the NSW Rural Fire Emergency Services. There is also a car park at Heathcote Station (which we think is free to use) and more free street parking along Wilson Parade.

If you want to do one of the walking options from Waterfall, you can drive to and park at Waterfall Station.

If you don’t have a car and want to drive there, we recommend hiring one for the day. Certainly, if you want to have ultimate flexibility and freedom with exploring more of the Royal National Park during a trip, it may be best to have your own vehicle.

Car Hire

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Of course, it’s possible to use public transport. You’ll simply catch a train to either Heathcote Station or Waterfall Station. To reach either station from central Sydney, you’ll need to use the Blue Line (Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line) and take the train in the southerly direction. Use the Transport NSW website or app to plan your journey.

Uloola Falls Campground

As mentioned, the waterfall is located at a campground called the Uloola Falls Campground. If you want to spend a restful night camping by the falls or are doing an overnight hike, staying at Uloola Falls Campground is a great option.

The walk-in tent-only campground is well-maintained by NSW National Parks, although, there isn’t much to maintain! Featuring toilets and not much else, the Uloola Falls camping area is a basic and remote campground, which feels light years away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.

For more information about the campground and to make a booking, head to the NSW National Parks website.

A clearing in bushland with a wooden sign is the location of the Uloola Falls Campground
Uloola Falls Campground

Gear Essentials

Make sure to pack enough water and snacks. Karloo Pools is a great wild swimming spot so you’ll want to pack your swimmers and a towel. We also recommend wearing a hat, long sleeves, sunglasses and sunscreen. Otherwise, here are some of our hiking gear essentials.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Uloola Falls FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about visiting Uloola Falls.

Can You Swim at Uloola Falls?

No, swimming at Uloola Falls isn’t possible as there is no depth of water suitable for a genuine swim. But, there are plenty of small pockets of creek along Uloola Brook, near Uloola Falls, which are great for swimming. Plus, Karloo Pools, which is one of the best wild swimming spots in Sydney, isn’t too far away either.

How Do You Get to Uloola Falls Campground?

It’s a walk-in campground, so you’ll have to walk there from either Heathcote Station, Waterfall Station or Audley.

Is There An Entry Fee For Uloola Falls?

No.

Are you more interested in beaches than waterfalls? There are loads of great beaches to be found along the Royal National Park’s Coast Track.

We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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