Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

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Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby lseries92 » Sun 16 Jul, 2017 8:40 am

I am headed up to the top end to do the Jatbula Trail at the end of the week. I was wondering if anyone has any tips?

I just finished the Larapinta last week (E to W, 20 days including 2 rest days) so I will be storing some of the gear I took on that (like thermals and extra water containers). I have plenty of hydralyte left and will be walking first thing in the morning like I did on the Larapinta to avoid the heat.

Any advice appreciated ...
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 16 Jul, 2017 12:10 pm

Enjoy and watch out for the buffalo...
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby JohnR » Tue 18 Jul, 2017 11:54 am

Hi

Just back from doing this walk. We took the full 5 nights and did not regret that one bit. The walk was the best part of our top end trip.

Swimming at the waterholes in the afternoons and the rock art are the highlights.

Did not see any buffalo, however plenty of fresh poo near some of the grassy plains you walk through.

Gear we took that was not needed - tent fly and thermals.

Enjoy.

I hope they leave this walk as it is. No need to develop it in anyway. If they want to collect more money from it then they should just increase the permit fee (it is ridiculously cheap at the moment).

Cheers,
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby crollsurf » Fri 01 Nov, 2019 11:47 am

Book early. Bookings opened for 2020 today at 10:00 CST, I went to book at 10:30 CST and most days that showed availablity, had no avialablity. When I went to book for 2 Adults, the few dates I found that did have availablity, wouldn't accept payment. Finally managed to book for 1 Adult! Either the system is failing or almost all spots booked out within 45 mins. Just a few single spots left 90 mins after opening.
Wow, that was a nightmare.

UPDATE: Got an email back from Parks, quick customer service! The system was working fine, they suggested that from the time I'd found availability to the time I'd filled out the booking form, the spots had gone!
You can contact them and go on a waiting list but they normally don't see cancellations until April.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby lseries92 » Fri 01 Nov, 2019 2:27 pm

They certainly go quick - when I booked three years ago, I actually tried on the day after it opened and only the odd day had a single spot available until quite late in the season. However when I turned up on the day of my walk it was a little disappointing to see only two others were walking on this day. Allegedly a group of 12 was also supposed to start on that day but they never turned up.

While it was nice to have the track and campsites mostly to myself, I am sure it is irritating to those trying to book even a small group to walk the track, especially at a date that is 7+ months in the future ...
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby crollsurf » Fri 01 Nov, 2019 2:39 pm

lseries92 wrote:They certainly go quick - when I booked three years ago, I actually tried on the day after it opened and only the odd day had a single spot available until quite late in the season. However when I turned up on the day of my walk it was a little disappointing to see only two others were walking on this day. Allegedly a group of 12 was also supposed to start on that day but they never turned up.

While it was nice to have the track and campsites mostly to myself, I am sure it is irritating to those trying to book even a small group to walk the track, especially at a date that is 7+ months in the future ...


Someone might know more about how this works. Some of the tour companies are offering, in 1 case, bookings for every week of the season. I wonder if these companies run outside the 15 limit or if they block book every week leaving very few spots for us punters. In which case a lot of spots should become available on short notice, closer to the date.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby Lizzy » Sat 02 Nov, 2019 5:58 am

I am pretty sure the tour companies get their spots before we get a chance. I did the walk a few years ago in July (peak) and had it entirely to myself!!! Of course it was supposed to. E booked out. Ridiculous! This is one case where they should charge a bit more to stop people booking just in case & also limit the tour bookings. I hope NT Parks charge them a hell of a lot more for the privilege.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby ribuck » Sat 02 Nov, 2019 8:28 pm

Tour companies have a completely separate process, arranged prior to the November 1st general opening. Established bushwalking clubs are able to book during late October, though they don't advertise this. It's not fair, of course, but that's how it is.

It would be a better system if they opened the bookings progressively, e.g. opened bookings six months prior to each departure date.

Looking forward to my upcoming trip in July 2020.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby Lizzy » Sun 03 Nov, 2019 5:37 am

Well that’s a crap system! It would be interesting to see how many spots are initially left in July for the independent walker after the tours & clubs claim their fill.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby ribuck » Sun 03 Nov, 2019 5:57 pm

It's also worth mentioning that it's possible to get permits for a summer trip if you are interested in a very hot, humid trip.

There's no shortage of summer slots.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby crollsurf » Sun 03 Nov, 2019 9:47 pm

lseries92 wrote:They certainly go quick - when I booked three years ago, I actually tried on the day after it opened and only the odd day had a single spot available until quite late in the season. However when I turned up on the day of my walk it was a little disappointing to see only two others were walking on this day. Allegedly a group of 12 was also supposed to start on that day but they never turned up.

While it was nice to have the track and campsites mostly to myself, I am sure it is irritating to those trying to book even a small group to walk the track, especially at a date that is 7+ months in the future ...


OK, this isn't sounding good. I couldn't get a second spot for my wife but I could end up on the track by myself with 1 other couple. What if they resent me being there. I wouldn't blame them either. Solo and 15 people, you can just blend in. You and 1 other couple!

Could spend a lot of money getting there for a very uncomfortable walk. I'm thinking I might bail and go somewhere else.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby north-north-west » Mon 04 Nov, 2019 9:40 am

crollsurf wrote:
lseries92 wrote:They certainly go quick - when I booked three years ago, I actually tried on the day after it opened and only the odd day had a single spot available until quite late in the season. However when I turned up on the day of my walk it was a little disappointing to see only two others were walking on this day. Allegedly a group of 12 was also supposed to start on that day but they never turned up.

While it was nice to have the track and campsites mostly to myself, I am sure it is irritating to those trying to book even a small group to walk the track, especially at a date that is 7+ months in the future ...


OK, this isn't sounding good. I couldn't get a second spot for my wife but I could end up on the track by myself with 1 other couple. What if they resent me being there. I wouldn't blame them either. Solo and 15 people, you can just blend in. You and 1 other couple!

Could spend a lot of money getting there for a very uncomfortable walk. I'm thinking I might bail and go somewhere else.


:?:
You don't have to walk with them. Just do your own thing. At most you'll be sharing the boat ride over and the campsites.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby crollsurf » Tue 05 Nov, 2019 6:30 pm

Yeah, your right NNW. Just adapt to the situation. If we feel uncomfortable in each others company, not hard to leave at sparrows or hang out and start walking in the arvo. Truth is, most people you bump into on these sort of walks are very decent people.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby Neo » Tue 05 Nov, 2019 6:57 pm

What would happen if one just arrived and went walking?
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby north-north-west » Wed 06 Nov, 2019 7:13 am

Neo wrote:What would happen if one just arrived and went walking?


You'd get very wet.
The track starts on the other side of the river.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby RobinHood » Sun 17 May, 2020 12:52 pm

The Jatbula is opened to the public to book on the 1st of November (or 1st working day after that date) – and everybody who tries to book will find it booked out almost; there might be a couple of dates in the hotter part of the season.
Don’t believe the lies told by NT Parks about the booking system – it’s corrupt!!
As of the 1st of October the Commercial operators have open slather of ALL the dates – a full month before the public; and they will STING you over $2000 AUD for the walk. Registered walking groups also are allowed to book prior to the opening of the season to the public.
This is the most corrupt booking system that I know of in Australia.
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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby crollsurf » Sun 17 May, 2020 8:46 pm

And due to Covid, every Joe public (me and others) have been able to re-book for 2021 so good luck getting a spot next year. Getting there and back takes planning but if you can get there at the drop of a hat, a lot of the tour operator bookings don't happen.

This has been a bad planning experience for me, emails bouncing, phone calls ringing out. Tassie is fantastic plus I can jump a flight to Nepal for about the same price as Katherine, to NZ or Tassie even less.

I'll hold onto my booking but I just can't see myself committing to this walk.

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Re: Jatbula Trail - Any tips?

Postby katherineaw » Thu 11 Jun, 2020 10:48 am

Actually, if you want to hike Jatbula and have missed out on a booking when they open in October, give Parks NT a call and also monitor their Facebook page because they often reopen bookings at the start of the Dry Season (April / May) to allow rebooking of cancelled permits. Last year, I was able to pick up a permit for late July (*PERFECT TIMING, by the way*) for myself and a friend sometime in June when they published a list of available dates on their FB page.

I know this year they've had to reopen the bookings given the impact of Covid. Obviously it's currently confined to Territorians in practice given the borders are closed, but there is some suggestion that could change soon.

The Parks NT rangers are some of the most friendly and helpful people out there, and I had a fantastic time on Jatbula last year - highly recommend to anyone wanting to do it. Easy trail, well signposted, plentiful water at the start/end of each day and beautiful waterholes to swim in. Plus a hot meal and cold drink at the end!

From memory they do reserve permits for solo hikers / non-tour groups, but there aren't that many permits each day. Maybe only 20? Obviously makes it harder to get a permit, but equally means you're more likely to be able to experience true isolation despite the relatively accessible nature of the hike!
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