The Jatbula trail
The Jatbula Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience full of majestic beauty in the heartland of the generations of the Jawoyn people.The Jatbula Trail runs along the western edge of the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Escarpment with the adventure taking you along a 62km graded trail beginning on the edge of the stunning Nitmiluk Gorge, continuing through the Nitmiluk National Park and ending at the spectacular Leliyn (Edith Falls). The area is owned by its traditional people, the Jawoyn people, and the trail actually takes walkers along an ancient songline (a form of charting the land – the story of the land according to Indigenous people). Walkers have the special opportunity to view beautiful and historic rock art of the Jawoyn people from rock outcrops of the
Multiple landscapes are on view, including exceptional waterfalls that tumble from high sandstone escarpments, savannahs, amazing gorges and shady monsoon rainforests filled with creeks and stunning waterholes..
NOTE: The Jatbula trail is already booked out for the Winter season of 2021, new dates are released by Parks NT at the start of November for 2022.
Get ready for
- Follow an Aboriginal dreaming trail
- Refreshing and relaxing swim spots in picture perfect waterholes
- Cascading waterfalls
- Peaceful evenings under magnificent night skies
- Connection with country
- Rock art of the Jawoyn People
- Exclusive adventure, only 15 hikers per day on the trail
Daily detail Jatbula trail
Your adventure begins after a quick ferry trip across Katherine River. Today is rocky and rugged. Escarpments and rocky outcrops which house hidden Jawoyn Aborignal Art. However it won’t be long until you are rewarded with a cooling swim spot at Northern Rockhole, and then continuing along the trail to your beautiful campsite at Biddlecomb Creek where there is a plethora of natural spa and plunge pools to relax your muscles after your first day.
Heading out from Biddlescomb Creek is a boggy start to the day but it isn’t long until you return to the familiarity of more rugged stone country and the chance to find more Jawoyn Aboriginal Rock Art. As you edge closer to tonight’s campsite at Crystal Falls you will be surrounded with lush monsoonal forests. Deep crystal clear swimming pools welcome you and offer a refreshing and relaxing end to your walking for today.
This morning’s trek leads to The Ampitheatre, a natural pocket formed by a horseshoe depression in the side of the escarpment, protecting the sacred rock art of the Jawoyn people. The shade of the cliffs lends to monsoon forest in this area, a perfect spot for a morning break or lunch. This afternoon is spent trekking along the edge of the escarpment enjoying the amazing views, before arriving at our camp at 17 Mile Falls for the evening.
The biggest day on the trail. The morning will take you through Pandanus, Grevillias and Paperbarks to Edith River Crossing which is the perfect lunch spot and chance for a swim. Birdlife is abundant through this section of the walk with the permanent waterholes. Following downstream along the river will lead you to Sandy Camp Pool, tonight’s campsite. A picturesque and enormous football oval sized waterhole full of waterlilies, surrounded by sandy beaches and in the shade of paperbark trees.
Today brings a leisurely walk along the Edith River with paperbark forests, monsoon forests, waterholes and billabongs and the chance to see some more wildlife – perhaps a turtle or water monitors if you are lucky. A relaxing afternoon is spent at camp exploring and swimming in the beautiful pools and offers the last chance for sleeping under the stars.
You will head off following the river again and another leisurely day will have you arriving at Edith Falls by mid-late morning for a refreshing and well earnt swim. Some of the trail’s best waterholes are found along this part of the trail. You can choose to stay the night at Edith Falls (commercially run campground and separate fees apply) or continue on with your onward travel.
Explore Jatbula trail
Duration: 6 days
Route type: Linear trail, from A to B
Start: Nitmiluk Visitor Centre
End: Leliyn (Edith Falls)
Location: Nitmiluk National Park
Closest Town: Katherine
Closest CBD: Darwin
The Edith Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls and pools thats a fantastic place to finish your Jatbula trail hike
On the trail
The Jatbula Trail is extremely varied, with flat open country on the top of the escarpment and boggy wet country along the creeks below. Some parts of the trail
are rough, sandy or have hill climbs. River crossings and rock scrambling may also be required. There is always something new around every corner. The trail is marked by blue triangles, usually located every 20-50m. Intersections are marked by signposts.
- Our detailed guide to hiking the Jatbula trail – contains all the essential information you need to know in advance
- 6 days worth of food for your adventure; breakfast, lunch and dinner each day – delivered straight to your home
- Our own range of Lightweight, highly nutritious meals that are locally sourced, delicious and easy to carry & cook ( freeze dried and dehydrated)
- Our ‘state of the art’ Navigation app to guide you on the track; showing huts, campsites and all points of Interest along the way
- Delivery to your door* of our ‘Adventure in a box’ food parcel
- ‘How to get fit for hiking’ e-guide for backpacking adventures
- 10% GST included
* Additional $35 delivery charge for locations in NT, WA and Northern Queensland
- Booking for your Jatbula trail place & permit with 6 nights campsites fees ( $16.50 total)
- Transfers or transport to Katherine / Nitmiluk Visitor centre
- Ferry across the Katherine River – paid locally $15
- Return transfers from Edith falls – vary according to destination & number of pax
- No equipment included
Our essential information guides give you everything you need to know – and none of the information you don’t – to prepare well for one of these hikes. We cover off all transport and transfers with contacts, full equipment lists tailored to each walk, and safety factors to consider that can be unique to each track. We give you the information you need to know about water and where the best accommodation is before and after your trip, plus overviews of Aboriginal & European history and wildlife you can expect to encounter.
It saves countless hours of trawling through websites, guidebooks and forums to get to the essential information you need to know, so you don’t forget to factor in anything for your adventure.
Finding your way
Our unique RAW Travel walking app has been designed to help you navigate easily on the trail. Simply download your map with the link we send you and you’ll be able to follow your route with ease, showing your location in real time without any internet connection needed. The app has many great features; it shows you weather forecasts localised for each of your overnight stops, detailed information on each campsite/ hut and what facilities are available there so you don’t need to carry our trail guide. There are important reminders, safety information, videos and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail.
Need to Know
We classify this as a challenging- strenuous walk that best suits more experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and confidence, who are able to walk in a hot environment carrying a pack. The trail is quite isolated and only has a maximum of 15 hikers per day so you need to be self-reliant and confident. River crossings and rock scrambling may also be
Yes. There are options for outdoor gear hire in Darwin, also with rental car companies for Vans and car packages. Outdoor gear hire companies in Darwin can help outfit you with equipment for the Jatbula Trail, details are given in our guide which you receive after booking. Katherine has a shop that sells outdoor gear but no hire.
If you are travelling to the Northern Territory with the main purpose of hiking the Jatbula Trail, we recommend you fly into Darwin, and then get a Greyhound bus to
Katherine and repeat the same after the walk to return home.
All walkers must attend a briefing at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre Parks Information desk (between 7.30am-3.30pm) to obtain a permit before starting their hike. If you would like to start your hike at 7am you need to have your briefing the day before. You must commence the trail no later than 9am. The walk starts on the eastern side of Nitmiluk Gorge.
You will then need to take a ferry from Nitmiluk Gorge to the start of the trail near 17 Mile Creek. The ferry costs $15 per person. Ferries depart daily at 9am.
After the walk, you will need to book a transfer from Leliyn (Edith Falls) to Katherine.
Independent adventures place you at the centre of the experience, giving you the confidence to be a self-reliant walker on the trail. We take care of the research needed and give you all the essential information relating to the trip ( a task that seasoned walkers can tell you often takes many hours to get the correct information) so you can be thoroughly prepared and confident that you have everything you need for your adventure. We give you all the contacts & details to nearby transportation, accommodation and hire services, highlight any risks to be aware of and how to mitigate them.
The food prep is a major hassle of many hikers trips and we solve that for you. We prepare all the food that you need for your trip, all pre-measured and dehydrated / freeze dried to take away the weight but keep the freshness. Our meals are reviewed by Nutritionists to provide the right daily nutrition and energy for your demands of the walk. And our ingredients are prepared from the best local ingredients here on the Mornington Peninsula, cooked to order and freeze dried fresh – not sitting on a shelf for years at a time!
Once you arrive at the trail it’s all over to you the adventure begins! You are free and independent to create your own experience the way you want it. We provide you with an app to help you navigate in real time on the trail and give you the campsite locations and points of interest but you are completely autonomous & self – supporting on the walk. These trips are best suited to people who relish that sense of liberation and freedom that comes with being self-reliant and don’t need the back up of a leader or group travel. Independent Adventures are different from our other self – guided walking trips as there are no briefings, transfers or local support from RAW Travel staff. It’s just you and nature out on the trail!
If you are an experienced and confident walker then yes, but not recommended for a beginner to walk solo due to the challenging terrain and isolation. The trail is marked by blue triangles, usually located every 20-50m. Intersections are marked by signposts and there are communal campsites to head to each evening. Along the trail there are some sections where the track is not well defined, in particular on the higher rocky areas, in gorges and swampy gullies and along creek beds.
The campsites on the trail are a delight, and you may even wish to sleep under the stars (with a mosquito net/tent) to soak up the true red centre experience. All campsites are close to permanent water, spots to swim (see Swim Spots, below) and offer a welcome and relaxing reward after the day’s hike. They all have toilets.
Camping at each site is strictly limited to one night to allow for the maximum numbers of 15 hikers per day starting the trail to be adhered to.
If you wish to stay at Leliyn Falls at the completion of the Jatbula Trail, this has separate fees from the trail campsites we book and is offered on a first come, first served basis.
The Jatbula Trail is in an area with distinct wet and dry season and it stays hot all year around.
This is the recommended time to walk between June and September. The cooler and drier months of June to August have an average daily temperature of 30°C with the nights cooling down to 10°C.
An average temperature of 40°C during the day is common through October and November.
Summer and autumn
December through to May have high temperatures and humidity, monsoon rains and the risk of flooding, making it difficult for walking and not recommended.
Social and environmental
All our adventures are fully carbon offset so that you know your travel has minimal impacts. Hiking itself is a low impact activity but we offset the cost of all our office operations and food production as well, so you can be satisfied that you have chosen a form of travel that is both good for you and good for the planet. Each year we also plant trees on behalf of every customer who has travelled with us, aiming to build towards a carbon positive effect with our operations.
As a B-Corp a focus on local community is an important part of who we are. We are committed to buying locally and source our produce from growers here on the Mornington Peninsula. We care about people in our community and for every meal pack you buy with us we donate a meal to a homeless support charity, to spread some love and share good food with those who need it most.
TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed