Fancy taking one last dip before the warm weather disappears completely? Why not try hiking to Karloo Pools, just south of Sydney in the Royal National Park. It’s a moderate walk that’s not too long; around 9 kilometres round trip which is less than 2 hours walk for most people. With a chance for a swim and picnic lunch halfway along, it can easily be done as a day trip from Canberra if desired.
There’s easy parking at the carpark where Bottle Forest Road meets Bottle Forest Trail in Heathcote, or you can take a train from Sydney to Heathcote station and walk to the trail from there. Make sure you bring water, sunscreen and snacks, as there are no shops, toilets or water available on the track.
The hike warms you up with an nice flat stroll for a couple of kilometres through the leafy corridor of the Karloo walking track. Take in the beautiful ferny undergrowth and twisting red gums, and keep your eye out for Lyrebirds and other wildlife. Keep to the main path and after a while you will descend down a narrower track. After another couple of kilometres you will reach Kangaroo Creek, where you will turn left and follow the creek for about 500 metres until you reach Karloo Pools.
The water in the swimming hole is pristine and crystal clear with a gorgeous emerald tinge, creating a lovely atmosphere for a swim (not to mention a killer Instragram opportunity!). Shallow ledges around the pool step down to decent depths of at least 2-3 metres in the middle. There’s a rope swing too, though it seems incredibly dangerous as you’d have to swing over several metres of bush and rocks before you would clear the shallow ledge of the pool. Keep an eye out for yabbies too, apparently there are some large ones swimming around the bottom!
The far side of the pool provides some big smooth rocks which are perfect for spreading out your towel and picnic, or having a nap in the sun.
After your swim, you can leave the way you came, which is moderately challenging on the ascent (it’s quite steep in parts and there are some large rocks to give your quads a good workout). Alternatively, you can add an extra 4 kms by continuing along the Karloo Pools walking track, past the Uloola Falls campground and catching the train back from Waterfall station.
Have you been swimming in a natural pool this Summer? Share your pics with us on Instagram by tagging @The_RiotACT for your chance to be featured on our account!