This 10.5km return hike along the Couranga Walking Track in Sydney’s Royal National Park is a great way to get your daily dose of Mother Nature while barely stepping foot out of the city.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Dharawal Nation, the traditional land of the Dharawal people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Wildflowers in spring
- Beautiful views of Deeban / Hacking River
- Native wildlife to spot
Couranga Walking Track
The Couranga Walking Track on Dharawal Country, is a medium length, well-marked track, easily accessible by train or car in the Royal National Park.
The hike starts and finishes at Waterfall Train Station, only an hour or so from Sydney where it’s free to park. The walk starts on Uloola fire trail, just a short walk south from the train station down McKell Avenue.
The first few hundred metres are along a wide fire trail around the edge of an industrial estate, but the scrub slowly starts to close in as you leave the roads and houses behind and head into the Royal National Park.
After a kilometre on the Uloola fire trail there’s a signposted turning on the right marked Couranga Track.
If you find yourself in a throng of people with eskies and speakers, don’t worry. They’re most likely heading straight on, to Uloola Falls Campground. Take the right down Couranga Track and you’ll probably leave them behind.
From here the trail is a single track and slowly winds its way through several kilometres of dry sclerophyll forest and heath before heading downhill into more lush rainforest habitat peppered with mighty Blue gum and bushy Blackbutt.
Depending on the time of year there’ll be a range of wildflowers to stop and admire the whole way, from daisies and flannel flowers, to orchids of all shapes and sizes.
Enjoying all of these wildflowers were a large number of butterflies, dancing and chasing each other through the glades and above were honeyeaters feeding on the flowering trees.
In the final kilometre or two the trail descends to meet the Deeban / Hacking River and there are several places to step off the trail and enjoy views up and down the river.
If you sit still long enough you might see a kingfisher dart upstream with its characteristic high pitch piping call. We weren’t so lucky on our visit, but we did stumble across an impressive praying mantis chilling on a log.
Once you reach the end of the track it’s time to grab a snack and enjoy a rest before heading back the way you came. The trail does descend for almost the entire walk in, so be prepared for a bit more of a challenge to get back out.
The final few kilometres don’t offer much shade either and on a hot day, like we had, some extra water and a good hat were very much needed.
Read more: How To Hike in Hot Weather
- Sturdy shoes for hiking
- 2-3L of water each
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
How To Get There
This walk starts and finishes at Sydney’s Waterfall Train Station on the Princes Highway, making it an ideal option if you don’t have your own wheels. If you do drive yourself, there’s also free parking at the station.
This is a straightforward and well-marked route most people will be able to enjoy. The route is almost all downhill for the first half, so make sure you save some energy and water for the uphill walk back out.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
The whole route, out and back, is around 10.5km. The total climb is around 360 metres. This walk is likely to take 3 hours or more depending on how many flowers you stop to admire