Last week I decided to appease my inner-nature-loving self; apparently I’ve got one, or else living in Australia just makes you want to explore nature because it’s so beautiful. Regardless of the reason I spent five hours of my life to trek 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) uphill in the Royal National Park in Sydney. It’s a free-to-enter park if you don’t have a car, and a great way to get out in the fresh air away from the city without having to make a huge effort.
How’d you get there?
I came by train from Central Station. I headed to Waterfall station which is accessed via the T4 line towards Wolli Creek. It’s a straight shoot from there; not much thinking so it’s a good chance to relax for 45 minutes, the length of the journey.
Is that the entrance to the park?
There’s multiple entrances into the national park, and my trip just happened to started in Waterfall. Plan your trip on the national park website.
I will say that if you want to do the same hike I did bring three bottles of water (2 reg 1 large) and make sure you have a slightly above average physical stamina level. Even though I’m not the fittest thing out there I did use a cross fit machine for a month before I took the trip. Have strong legs and glutes.
The photo below? You have to hike up that…it’s not a cute little cubby of nature those were my stairs!
We started out the trek (I went with a friend. Always hike with a friend if you’re taking a long walk) on the Ulooga trail. It was a moderate hike that, honestly, was fairly easy. It had a wide pathway and although some parts of it were steep enough to almost remind me what gravity feels like it was fine. Towards the end though…my goodness I had to pull a Lara Croft to get down the rocks. But it wasn’t too intense; just don’t be stupid about it and you’ll be fine. Like I said I am no fitness junkie I had to baby crawl down. I looked adorable.
I am publicly admitting that plants make me uncomfortable only so you can understand and appreciate how brace I was for taking a picture next to this GIANT bush.
At the end of the journey we stopped for lunch where I had to “man-up” and eat a sandwich that a bug flew into. I was starving okay, don’t judge me…it was chicken mayo! He had the nerve to just invade my sandwich! I dug him out and continued eating out of principle.
Umm…ew okay, so what then?
Next came the part of the hike I regretted my existence as an out of shape American. (Side note: when the Australians say a path is hard take their word for it!)
The Karloo Track started off as a gauntlet where I had to leap to another rock on a cliff to even begin the path. Then the path itself was super narrow; so much so that my friend and we had to walk one behind the other. Clearly this was some next level hiking I was not ready for; but there was no turning back. Grabbed my fear and shoved it because for the next two and a half hours I was doing this path.
There were so many plants I had to put on a jacket and die inside each time one of them touched me. I even got scratched by something that may have been a plant. I don’t know, don’t want to know; it’s not infected so I don’t care.
I hate plants…
Animals I can deal with. We ran into a small snake because that’s a thing here in nature…it’s snakes…but it was fine he ran away after a few stomps. There were loads of little lizards that I got pictures of. There was also a cute little red spider I got film of. I’m afraid of spiders but after seeing the motherload load of all spiders I don’t care anymore as long as they don’t touch me.
Wow! That’s intense! How’d you not freak out?!
Australian animals will leave you alone if you leave them alone. I honestly forgot they were there. If you have a good bug repellent you would rarely see the insects either. Plus you’ll be too busy panting and gasping for air to care about a lizard near your leg.
Now then back to the hike.
The views were worth the journey. I saw breathtaking drops and forest for free, and got in some needed exercise at the same time. I didn’t use a hiking stick but you should use one if foot-eye coordination isn’t your thing because some of those leaps can be pretty intense.
Now I didn’t pack enough water so towards the end the hike was getting very difficult. Always pack more water than you think you’ll need! I was so thirsty that when we arrived to Heathcote station, the end of the Karloo Trail (or start of you want to start there) I drank a 1.5 liter bottle of water easy in 45 minutes!
How many entrances into the park are there?
Multiple. Check the Royal national park website to plan your trip and check out any park warnings/closing a that may have arisen. Fire and flood are a thing in Australia.
Was it worth it? Should I go next time I visit New South Wales?
Definitely worth the sweat and tears! Try to come in the spring or fall months when the heat and cold won’t destroy your conviction. I’d say, from my experience, come round the end of October to the end of December; or from April to June. Just make sure you plan out your visit! The hikes may take longer than you’d expect. Their estimated times and distances are accurate; they aren’t “thresholds”. Plan to spend a whole day there so you can leave before the sun goes down. And bring bug spray and wear long pants and sleeved shirts. Those bushes and plants hurt when they smack against you. I’ve got the scars to prove it!
Well then, this post got longer than it should have! I’ll end it here.
Planning a few trips to some lighthouses in the area. Expect one each week because train and bus fare is significantly cheaper on Sunday: $2.50 travel cap no matter the distance!
If you haven’t already, check out the rest of my posts and let me know what you think! And if you have any travel suggestions/tips let me know!
Stay tuned! It’s starting to really warm up here in Sydney…trying to survive without AC…