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Jatbula Trail

Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Northern Territory's Jatbula Trail is 62km long and a tour with World Expeditions takes five days, starting at Katherine Gorge to Leliyn in Nitmiluk National Park. The trail is the latest great Australian walk open to the public. For years it was tackled by very few adventurous walkers, but now it is more accessible to the mainstream hiker, and the Getaway crew was a pioneer on this new adventure.

The advantage of walking the Jatbula Trail with World Expeditions is that you have experienced guides who know secret spots along the way. They provide leadership, catering, communications and safety. All trekkers need to do is turn up with their packs. They take a maximum of 10 into the pristine wilderness.

The walk is special because there are so many highlights over the five-day trek. It has magnificent waterfalls, rivers perfect for camping beside, and creeks and waterholes for swimming. Aboriginal artwork is all along the trail, telling stories of the local Jawoyn who have tramped along the track for thousands of years. They see themselves as caretakers of the area, and the land is a source of food, medicine and living history.

It all begins with a drive from Darwin to Katherine Gorge, followed by an 11km trek to Biddlecombe Cascades. The cascades are fed by a permanently flowing creek dropping into a beautiful waterfall. Lazing in the pools and rapids is a great way to enjoy afternoon sunshine.

The following day you walk 12km to Crystal Falls. The area features a mass of rock pools, rapids and small cascades falling away to a spectacular, large waterfall.

A highlight of Jatbula is the amphitheatre, about half-way along the track. Trekkers are treated to a butterfly-filled, lush pocket of rainforest featuring Aboriginal rock art.

Seventeen Mile Falls, 28km along the trail, is a hidden gem, accessed only by trekkers on Jatbula. The falls are a permanent source of water and the sandstone plateau acts as a sponge which seeps water into rivers and creeks. The watercourses supply water year round for the falls. You cover around 11km on this day.

Next day, a 16km walk takes you to Sandy Camp Pool. The peaceful campsite is on soft, sandy ground beside a billabong, the perfect place to spend the night.

On the last day, you walk 15km to Edith Falls, also known as Leliyn. A further 30-minute walk takes you to the top of the falls with spectacular rewards. Edith Falls is a strongly flowing clear stream, rushing down a rocky shallow gorge before flowing over a 20m fall into a 200m clear plunge pool which is safe for swimming.

It's rather special that at the end of every day you are rewarded with clear cool water for a dip before enjoying an evening meal under more stars than you may have ever seen before!


From Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory.


World Expeditions has six-day Jatbula Trail Tours from Katherine Gorge for $1650 per person twin share. Meals, camping gear, transport from Darwin and National Park permits and fees are included. They depart every second Monday from May to August.

Virgin Blue has flights to Darwin.

One-way fares from:

  • Melbourne $169
  • Brisbane $209
  • Sydney $245
  • Adelaide $265
  • Perth $290
  • Hobart $ 340

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at July 10, 2008 and are subject to change.

Prices correct at July 10, 2008.

For further information

World Expeditions
Ph: 1300 720 000

Mountain Designs

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.

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