Jat­bula Trail

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - 6 Of The Best -

The route takes walk­ers on an ad­ven­ture along the west­ern Arn­hem Land Es­carp­ment

Info: www.nt.gov.au/parks When to go: June-September Grade: Mod­er­ate

THE JAT­BULA TRAIL is the per­fect Top End ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the NT’s other mul­ti­day walk, the Lara­p­inta Trail. The six-day, 62km Jat­bula takes you through some of the most vi­brant and en­gag­ing ter­rain in this coun­try. It can be walked in­de­pen­dently (you need to book well ahead for park/camp­ing passes, see the NT parks link above) or you can jump on board a guided ad­ven­ture with tour op­er­a­tors such as World Ex­pe­di­tions.

The Jat­bula is lo­cated in Nit­miluk Na­tional Park and winds north (you can only walk it in this one di­rec­tion) from Nit­miluk (Kather­ine Gorge) to Leliyn (Edith Falls). The route takes walk­ers on a trop­i­cal ad­ven­ture along the west­ern edges of the Arn­hem Land Es­carp­ment, pass­ing through sa­van­nah grass­lands, over quartzite cliffs, and through creeks and mon­soonal rain­for­est. The ter­rain it­self is amaz­ing, but even more so are the camp­sites you sleep at ev­ery night: right be­side wa­ter­falls that drop into pris­tine and croc-free swim­ming holes be­low. This is the home of the Ja­woyn peo­ple, and you’ll have the daily chance to spot some beau­ti­ful rock art in a num­ber of caves, rocky over­hangs and out­crops. Each day of walk­ing is around 10km, with the long­est be­ing 16km, on the sec­tion be­tween 17 Mile Falls and Sandy Camp Pool.

The first few days see you tra­verse what is known as “stone coun­try” be­fore en­ter­ing pock­ets of mon­soonal rain­for­est. Af­ter a few days you’ll fol­low a gen­tler track as you walk be­side the Edith River on your way to Sandy Camp Pool, where you’ll camp for the night, be­fore con­tin­u­ing the next day through pa­per­bark forests and past more wa­ter­holes to Sweet­wa­ter Pool.

The Jat­bula Trail can be done at an easy pace. We’d rec­om­mend start­ing early, how­ever, to miss the heat of the af­ter­noon, and also take ad­van­tage of each camp­site’s lo­ca­tion where you can cool off in the camp-side wa­ter­holes. As well as warm days and cool­ish nights, you should see plenty of stars in the clear NT skies.

The Jat­bula’s start/end points are ideal for other day walks, or ca­noe­ing the gorge (see page 39) . The al­ter­na­tive is to keep liv­ing that wa­ter­fall dream and spend a few more days lolling about at Leliyn at the end of your trek. Yep, the NT can be tough some­times…

The Jat­bula Trail takes hik­ers through a won­der­land of trop­i­cal land­scapes.

Pic: Tourism NT/Bruce Baker

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