Jatbula Trail - Nitmiluk to Edith Falls 6 days

Biddlecombe Cascades

The Jatbula Trail is a iconic walk located in the Northern Territory of Australia, A 60km hike through Nitmiluk National Park (in the Katherine region) from the Nitmiluk visitors centre (Katherine gorge) to Leliyn (Edith Falls) Since the 1980's it has been a known walking trail and was named the Jatbula Trail after Peter Jatbula, a traditional land Jawoyn Elder who saw the idea of making the trail more accessible and to show the connection between the Jawoyn country and culture.

However the trail has been walked for thousands of years by the Jawoyn people, Linking wet season and dry season habitation areas. Along the trail stories and songs were told for lessons in skills and knowledge but stories and songs were also a form of navigation.

If you have not done so already, I recommend you booking into doing this trek

It has a walking season of only 4 months from June to the end of September and the booking period opens on the 1st of November and sells out very quickly.

We had a blast, while swimming in water holes, rivers and waterfalls each afternoon. As soon as the sun went done and dinner was digested - it was star gazing time every night, it happened to be a meteor shower event on the 2nd to the 7th of August 2019 - As you would Wake during the night, the sky was well lit with millions of stars and the occasional shooting star / shower -

If this is not on your bucket list then put it in there NOW -

This year I had the privilege to lead a group of 13 with Lenka, which also has a love for the great outdoors. after months of anticipation from the group members our time was now, it was out time to arrive into Darwin and taste the warm winter weather and hit the trail.

I arrived on the 2pm Virgin flight 31/7/19 and once checked into the YHA hostel set out to get camping gas for the whole group, then went down to Darwin's waterfront for a swim and a few beers at Bar Il Lindo with Brendon and Neville. We had dinner later that night near our hostel and when the boys Called it a night and with my terrible sleeping patterns i decided to stay awake for the remainder of the group which arrived after 1am the morning of the 1/8/19 - right now time for a few hours of shut eye before the show begins.

The next day we had free until 1pm where i asked the group to get a maxi taxi back to the airport and for them to meet Lanka and I as we were organising the hire cars. Apparently we had new cars, well they didn't drive like it - more about that later.

we finally met the three remaining members of the group at the airport, Roozbeh, Lisa and Kathleen, then it was off in earnest down the Stuart highway on the A1 for our 3.5hr drive to Nitmiluk visitors centre - It was nudging 7pm when Lenka and I had to do the hellish drive back out for our car shuffle, so we had cars for the end of our trip and we did not get back to camp until after 9:30pm - And special thanks goo to the guys that bought both of us Food and a beer from the caravan park kiosk...

The Jatbula Trail Day 1 - 2/8/18 11am 8 km Nitmiluk Visitors Centre to Biddlecombe Cascades

A early departure from the camp site but the anticipation from the group was high so taking the short stroll over to Nitmiluk visitors centre for breakfast and the last Coffee for 6 days was no issue. A mandatory trail briefing followed at 08:30 by Northern Territory Parks and then we were off down the path to the boat departure point where we literally just crossed the width of the Katherine river to the start point.

that's it we are off by about 9:30 and after 3.5/ 4km we reach the Northern Rock hole for a first swim on trail, the special thing about this one is that its actually on trail, while the water holes are at camp.

It was only another 6kms to camp and we were to reach Biddlecombe Cascades by Midday and after we all had lunch, some of us ventured down to the lower pool while the rest stayed at the upper pool.

Let the Fun begin -

After camp dinner the night was spent watching star TV - and shooting a few Milky Way astro Shots

Biddlecombe Cascades

JATBULA TRAIL DAY 2 - 3/8/18 - 8AM - 11.5KM Biddlecombe Cascades to Crystal Falls

Day two was met by a 8am departure back up along the escarpment and a few small creeks crossings before a small unnamed rock art site where we had a break to clamber to find some interesting rock art. We arrived into camp around Midday for gorgeous camp site right near the river. After lunch many of us went swimming up stream to a waterfall / rock oasis, we all enjoyed the serenity of camp and at sunset went up to a rocky outcrop to watch the sunset.

Tonight was much similar than the night before camp dinner and Star TV

Upper Crystal Falls

The Milky Way on show

JATBULA TRAIL DAY 3 - 4/8/18 - 8AM - 10KM Crystal Falls to 17 Mile Falls

This morning by now the group is getting use to the 8am departures as we set off crossing the river and only a little challenging section to reach the other side. Once the shoes and socks process was complete our short walk to Crystal Falls lookout presented and a grandeur view of "crystal Falls" and the gorge.

We continued in until the 7km mark to reach the Amphitheatre, a Indigenous rock art site - this area is a "rainforest" in a depression. After our break in viewing the art we head off for our final 3kms to camp and 17 Mile Falls.

Again, like the previous days arrival into camp was around 12pm so that ment plenty of time to set camp, have lunch and have a play like little kids in the infinity pools and enjoy the grand view that presented itself.

Dinner and you guessed it more STAR TV -

17 Mile Falls looking down into the valley below

Upper 17 Mile Falls

17 Falls Infinity Pools

JATBULA TRAIL DAY 4 - 5/8/18 - 8AM - 17KM 17 Mile Falls to Sandy Camp

Iam always a sad to leave this site, anyway 07:45 and off we go - today was our longest day on trail in terms of distance so we set off a bit earlier and took break roughly on the hour as these nest few days were ment to be in the mid 30's. We managed to arrive at Sandy Camp just after 12:30pm and had there rest of the day to enjoy the huge pool.

As I couldn't resist and made a plan with Justin to use my para cord as a swing and that passed our time for a few hours in the mid afternoon. Gee I love being a big kid.

Sandy Camp

JATBULA TRAIL DAY 5 6/8/19 - 8AM - 11km Sandy Camp to Sweetwater Pool

Our 8am departure from camp saw us make the 11km journey to sweet water pool just after 11:30am and for the group to enjoy an amazing afternoon in such a gorgeous setting. Sweetwater being only 4.5km from Edith falls ment it was also accessible for day hikers and is a point where they are not allowed to go any further unless they have a permit to be on the Jatbula trail.

Just after Midday Lenka and Myself decided to leave camp and walk out the 4.5km to do the car shuffle and return the car at Nitmiluk Visitors Centre. just after we started something told be to bring me head lamp but nah she will be right as we should have more than enough day light as I expect us to be back around 5ish.

After making nitmiluk Visitors centre by 2pm it was looking good to be back at camp by the said time.

How ever enter Lenka's car Issue's, The didn't start so I was waved over and what seemed like a battery issue we went to get a possible cup start from the staff at the visitors centre. As that did not seem to be the problem as to why the cars ignition was not turning over and even after checking the fuses nothing could be found. So it was unfortunately off to ring the car hire Mob.

While they said we had a service vehicle due to arrive at 4pm, that meant we had almost 1.5hrs so I decided to try and start the car again and as I turned the key in the ignition the plastic that housed the key fell apart. And of course there was no service vehicle coming at 4pm there was no one available until 5pm and I wouldn't have know that if I didn't ring. I managed to fix the ring and out it back together, however it need tape around it to keep it in place. Great - car starts but its too late to cancel the service vehicle.

Not impressed as $280 later - this is before the fair trading act, as I intend to get a full refund.

this means we are finally on our merry way after 5pm and get back to Edith Falls car park just after 6pm for a walk back in as the sun is fading and as light had faded we met Justin about 15 mins out from our camp site, What a drama and a swim straight in Sweetwater pool to wash the drama away.

Jatbula Trail DAY 6 7/8/19 - 8AM - 4.5km Sweetwater Pool to Edith Falls

We leave Sweetwater behind at 8am for the short 4km walk to the upper pools at Edith,

a swim here for about 1hour and then it saw us at Edith Falls Kiosk for a rushed bite to eat and a 11:15 departure for the trip back to Darwin.

Group Shot Above Crystal Falls

Norman Herfurth

Indigo Photography

Yours In Adventure

"This Blog is of the Opinion of my own Personal Experiences and are not necessarily Fact.. and is written to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. This blog is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice."

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