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Embark on the arduous five-day Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park for off-the-beaten-track scenery, waterfalls and Jawoyn Aboriginal rock art.
The Jatbula Trail is a 62 km one way walk, departing from Nitmiluk Gorge, traversing through the western edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment over sandstone plateau scrub, woodlands, monsoon forests and riverine landscapes finishing at Leilyn (Edith Falls) You will walk in the footsteps of generations of Jawoyn who traditionally travelled through parts of the trail.
The trail can be completed in 5 days/4 nights or 6 days/5 nights with each night spent at a stunning campsite close to a babbling spring, cascade or a plunging waterfall.
Jatbula Trail overview
Day 1 - Nitmiluk to Biddlecombe Cascades - 8.3 km
Day 2 - Biddlecombe to Crystal Falls - 11 km
Day 3 - Crystal Falls to 17 Mile Falls - 10 km
Day 4 - 17 Mile Falls to Sandy Camp - 16.8 km
Day 5 - Sandy Camp to Sweetwater Pool 11.1 km or via Leliyn 15.6 km
Day 6 - Sweetwater (overnight) to Leliyn - 4.5 km
The Jatbula Trail is graded as medium to hard. You need to be reasonably fit with some bushwalking experience as it involves carrying heavy loads over rough ground. Read more about the walking track grading system.
The walk can be completed in five or six days. Camping is only allowed for one night at each site along the trail.
Leliyn is not a campsite on the trail and separate fees will apply if you wish to camp there.
Book your walk
The trail has a limit of 15 walkers leaving each day so you will need to book.
Bookings open on 1 November for the following year.
A camping fee needs to be paid with your booking. The fees are:
$3.30 per adult/night
$1.65 per child/night
When to walk
The best time of year to walk the Jatbula Trail is from 1 June to 30 September.
During the cooler months, from June to August, the temperatures range from 30 degrees Celsius during the day dropping to 10 degrees Celsius at night.
Conditions on the trail start to heat up in mid-August with temperatures rising to over 40 degrees Celsius from October to late November.
From December to April the trail is difficult due to high temperatures and humidity, monsoonal rain and the risk of flooding. Increased vegetation growth in the wet season can also hide trail markers, adding to the difficulty.
It is possible to walk the Jatbula Trail between 1 October and 31 May but you must be experienced, well prepared and you will need special permission from parks.
You must apply in writing for special permission to [email protected]
Getting from the trail
The trail finishes at Leliyn and you can be transferred to either Katherine or to the Nitmiluk visitor centre.
Leliyn to Katherine is 63km or approximately 45 minutes drive
Leliyn to Nitmiluk Gorge is 90km or approximately 1 hour drive.
How to book your transport
The following companies provide ground transfers:
Gecko Canoeing and Trekking
Phone: (08) 8972 2224
Phone: (08) 8971 9999
Remember to tell someone outside of your group of your travel plans in case of an emergency.
Cars and public parking
Public parking is available at both ends of the trail, but be sure to tell the parks desk or Leliyn kiosk your name, car details and return date.
There are a number of bus and airlines services that provide regular return travel between Darwin and Katherine.
About the region
Be drawn to the spectacular sandstone country of Nitmiluk National Park and the majestic Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge with spectacular cliffs that glow in the changing light.
Nitmiluk National Park, just 30 kilometres north-east of Katherine, covers a vast area, including 13 impressive gorges carved from the ancient sandstone country which stretch for as far as the eye can see.
Explore the world-famous park and gorge country on foot, by canoe, boat or helicopter.
Accommodation is available within the National Park. Choose from camping, to chalets through to the upmarket Cicada Lodge. Nitmiluk National Park has something for everyone.
- Starts at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre, Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), Katherine, Northern Territory
- The walk is one way only and starts at Nitmiluk Gorge.
- You can be picked up from the town of Katherine which is 27km from 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 $8.50 per person.
- Ferries depart daily at 7am, 9am and 11am.
- To book call the Nitmiluk visitor centre on 1800146 743.
Max elevation: 314 m
Min elevation: 119 m
Total climbing: 807 m
Total descent: -798 m
For more information on these trails please visit the Do the NT.