Jatbula Trail 2 July 2015

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Jatbula Trail 2 July 2015

Postby philm » Tue 21 Jul, 2015 8:41 am

On 2 July a party of four tackled the Jatbula trail in the NT. I have briefing written up the trip below. Overall it was a great trip and a good opportunity to escape the cold winter in SA and TAS.
The Jatbula trail is a 62 km walk that commences at Katherine Gorge and finishes at Edith Falls, North of Katherine. We all flew to Darwin and then the next day drove to Katherine. The highlight of Katherine was a visit to the Golf Club for dinner on a Friday night and the locals were great – came and picked us up from the hotel on a courtesy bus! The Golf club was the place to be for both young and old. After dinner we decided to head back to the hotel and as we left the table a member of our party noticed his money that was left in a plastic bag on the table was gone! (He had left his wallet in Darwin to save weight on the walk and placed his money in a plastic bag). By this time the bus had arrived and a number of locals were waiting for a lift home so one of our party went to the bus whilst we looked for the money. After some time we asked the kitchen staff and they had found the money and credit cards and packed them neatly into a coin bag and left if at the bar for collection – very honest!
On finally leaving we were pleased to see the bus was still there. One of our party from Tasmania was in the bus attempting to distract the locals by telling them jokes and stories of Tasmania – after some time the locals were getting restless and one lady started swearing. Our fellow walker was pleased to finally see us as he had exhausted his welcome by holding up the bus.
The next morning we commenced the walk about 8.30am at Katherine Gorge. Despite booking the walk the parks desk does not open until 8am and the ferry that takes you across the gorge does not start until later.

Most days were easy walking and distances not great – the longest day is day 4 at 17 km and most days about 10km long. Even though it was the dry season the temperatures ranged from about 11 to 32 degrees. In planning the trip we discovered that tens were not needed and having done some research there was no rainfall recorded in July for the past 35 years so we did not take any wet weather gear. Being used to hiking in Tasmania this seems rather odd – especially when packing in a cold winter and taking no wet weather gear. Instead we took mossie domes (1.4kg) and had very light packs (although the weight was increased due to wine for medicinal purposes).
Our decision not to take wet weather gear was a good one apart from day 4 when we were at 17 mile falls and by early afternoon some initial signs of rain clouds started to appear! The rest of my party discounted these but as the afternoon drew to a close the clouds became thicker and the temperature started to rise! On nightfall as we retired to our domes a few drops of rain started and I thought we would be in for a difficult night with absolutely no protection from the rain and with down sleeping bags I thought the worst!
Fortunately after a short time the rain stopped and eventually the clouds gave way to another clear night sky.
Every day we tented to start walking about 8am and would be at the next camp by about 11am. The great aspect of this walk is you have plenty of time, the walking is straight forward and every camp has a swimming hole. The water is pure and can be drunk without treatment and the scenery is stunning.
One of our party tented to leave early every morning so he could take his time and on the long day we also left at 6.30am so the first part of the walk was in the dark. This was a great experience and the trail markers were easier to follow at night due to their reflective coating.
Only 15 people are allowed on the track per day and there were 2 other groups with us. We all got along well and met some great colleagues along the way. A member of the other party had a Helox chair which he tool everywhere including in the water – we named him the Chairman! (Although after sore butts from sitting on rocks all trip we all started to consider purchasing a chair by the end.)
I have summarised my thoughts on the trip below:
The Good
• Relaxing walk with great scenery
• Swimming in great locations every day
• Great company
The Bad
• Nothing I can think of except the plight of the indigenous people who spend their day in the Katherine main street waiting for the bottle shop to open – there must be a better way

A few pictures of the trip below.

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Crossing the Katherine Gorge

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Crossing the rapids at Crystal Falls

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Crystal Falls

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17 mile Falls

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Rock Art
DSC00109 lr.jpg (67.73 KiB) Viewed 30252 times

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Sandy Camp

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Dawn at Sandy Camp

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Sandy Camp dawn

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Towards Sweetwater pool

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Re: Jatbula Trail 2 July 2015

Postby Lotsafreshair » Thu 23 Jul, 2015 8:44 am

Looks like a great trip Phil. I'm heading up next week and hope I have just as good a time. Thanks for sharing?
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Re: Jatbula Trail 2 July 2015

Postby weeds » Thu 23 Jul, 2015 9:15 pm

Thanks for sharing.....didn't know about this track til your post

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