Traveller Stories: The Jatbula Trail

Enjoy the scenic waterholes along the Jatbula Trail | Linda Murden
Enjoy the scenic waterholes along the Jatbula Trail | Linda Murden
Linda, our Adventure Reservations Consultant tells us about her experiences on the Jatbula Trail. From her favourite highlights of the trip, preparation tips and advice for future trekkers, find out first hand from Linda why the Jatbula trail should be your next Aussie trek. 

Can you tell us a little about the Jatbula Trail

The Jatbula Trail is a full pack 6 day hike through Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory. The trail winds 62km through vast wilderness in the outback where we found ourselves camping each night near pristine water holes, the perfect spot to have a refreshing swim at the end of the day. The days were a beautiful 33 degrees with blue skies, whilst the temperatures at night dropped to around 15 degrees. 

What inspired you to trek the Jatbula trail?

Not many people know that the National Park only allows 15 people per day to start the Jatbula Trail. This is one of the main things that appealed to me, as it meant we had complete isolation from other groups of trekkers. It was the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and technology, and one of the few bushwalking experiences I’ve had where I felt I was truly remote. Each day, aside from the cheery banter of our group, the only sounds you heard were of the bush, from the noisy calls of red-tailed black cockatoos to the bubbling of a nearby waterfall. That, and the voices of our guides as they talk about the history of the land and stories about the flora and fauna.

What were the top 3 highlights of the trip?

  • One of my most memorable experiences was laying on a rock in the middle of the Crystal Creek after everyone had gone to bed and just watching the stars. The rock was still warm from the heat of the day, and the milkyway glowed above so vividly; it was a magical experience.
  • My second highlight was learning about the Jawoyn Aboriginal culture and seeing their rock art. These paintings give insight into the culture, lifestyle and ceremonies of the Jawoyn people, and seeing the art sites gave us perspective as to the importance and signifance of these cultural sites.
  • Finally, it was hard to beat swimming in pristine water holes, rivers and waterfalls each day, where the water was so clear and fresh enough to drink.
  • One of my other favourite moments was hearing two dingos howling in the distance as we were eating our dinner.

What was the camping like?

I went in July, and as the weather was warm with almost no chance of rain, we were supplied with a small tarp, sleeping mat and a mosquito net which we hung between 2 trees. It was true wilderness camping, and it was great sleeping in the elements with the cool breeze during the evenings. That being said, nights were quite cool and I did wear my thermals on a couple of occasions. 

What type of preparation did you do for your trip to the Jatbula trail?

I have done a few multi day full pack hikes in the past, so I knew what I was getting myself into on this trip. I regularly go to the gym and do weights and cardio, and try to get out on bushwalks every second weekend in the Blue Mountains. I bought a new backpack for this trip, so to help prepare myself I put 15kgs in my bag to help get myself used to carrying the weight and the different shape of this backpack.

Do you have any tips to recommend for other travellers who are thinking of doing the Jatbula Trail

  • One of my favourite parts on this trek was swimming in the waterholes, so I would recommend you take a pair of goggles to comfortably swim around and explore the waterholes and waterfalls.
  • Consider taking a sarong instead of a travel towel as it will keep down the weight of your backpack, folds smaller than a travel towel and dries quicker.
  • Don't over pack. I only needed 2 t-shirts, one for daytime and one for night time. You are able to rinse your shirt and shorts in the waterways (but don’t use detergents) and they will be dry before you go to bed.
  • The same with toiletries, I only used toothpaste, a toothbrush, sunscreen, wet wipes (to remove your sunscreen before swimming due to the chemicals) and insect repellent at night time.
The first waterfall experienced on the Jatbula Trail is the Northern Rockhole |  <i>Steve Strike, Tourism NT</i>

Are you planning your next trekking holiday and where do you think you will go?

I am already planning my next adventures in Australia- though it’s hard to choose which one I’ll do first. It will either be:
  • Kayak along the east coast off Hinchinbrook Island.
  • Explore the Freycinet area in Tasmania, trekking along secluded bays and white sandy beaches.
  • Do the South Coast Track, a nine day trek that is one of the most remote wilderness treks you can do in Tasmania.
Inspired? Find out more about the Jatbula Trail here.  

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