Despite only being an hour’s drive from Sydney’s East, the pristine 15,091 hectares of bushland that is the Royal National Park, is largely unexplored by the average Sydney-sider.

Being seen as a ‘tourist attraction’, many locals miss this perfect opportunity for an adventure-filled day of swimming, hiking and picnicking. It’s so close you feel like you’re getting a breath of fresh air, without having traveled that far at all.

The full Royal National Park coastal walk is 26 kilometres and takes approximately two days to complete – but of course you can break it down and explore portions of it at your own pace. The path that we’ve chosen to explore is the 5 km Karloo Track, which is considered one of the best walking tracks in the Royal National Park because of the beautiful swimming spots alongside it, including the scenic Uloola Falls. The trail is moderate difficulty, making it suitable for most fitness levels, with no hiking experience necessary. The time suggested for this track is 3-5 hrs, including the journey back.

Like most of the Royal National Park tracks, the Karloo route is accessible by train, so we started our journey from Heathcote Station. Our first stopover was at the Karloo Pools, which is the perfect area for a picnic under a cave-like opening and a refreshing swim in the large expanse of clear blue water. During Summer, the water is the perfect temperature and is not too deep, making it a nice, relaxing experience. After your swim, the rocks make great tanning (with sunscreen) beds, and as you close your eyes, with the calming sounds of the wind blowing through the trees (because you’re in the middle of the bush) this is the perfect place to reinvigorate your senses.

Picking up from there, we head to Uloola Falls in the north-west section of the Royal National Park, which is a more secluded area compared to Karloo Pools. The clear water is much shallower here so you can walk from one side to the other without it going higher than your thighs. There is a large rock in the middle of the water, with proves to be a great place to perch and have lunch. The main attraction though, is the mini waterfall, and sitting under or behind the tumbling water makes for a delightful experience and cute Instagram!

From there, you may choose to continue hiking to Waterfall train station via the Uloola walking trail from Uloola Falls campground. It’s a bit longer than the return trip to Heathcote train station, but the campground is another popular destination and allows you to see more gorgeous sights.

Things to remember for this trip include bringing plenty of water (at least 2 big bottles) as there aren’t any fill up points on the way and same goes for food. Also bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. The Royal National Park is open 7am to 8:30 pm. For more information about the Royal National Park and this particular track click here.