The Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park Northern Territory, is one of the most hiked trails in Australia. They get about 1000 phone bookings and emails on the first day the trail opens. Unbelievable. Who would have thought that so many people liked hiking. It’s a good thing I guess, people getting back into nature.
The trail only allows 15 people per day. The problem is that we arrived up with a group of 4 and had no idea you had to book in advance. Turns out we could only book 2 places. So the girls booked the 2 available places and myself and my friend hiked it without a permit.
The short story:
Crossed the crocodile infested Katherine River – Hiked the 62km Jatbula Trail Over 5 days – Fined $150 by a Ranger in the last 1km of the Hike…
The Full Story:
When you book for the Jatbula Trail you receive a free ferry ride across the Katherine River. The hike starts at the Katherine Gorge. Since we didn’t have a pass, we brought a blow up boat and checked out google maps to see if the crossing was possible. It looked OK and so we said goodbye to the girls not 100% sure if we would see them again on the other side of the river.
Turns out the river crossing was easier than we thought. Just in front of the visitor centre the water is only knee deep. Although the Katherine River is crocodile infested, the water was fast flowing and it had a rocky bottom. (Not the kind of place you would see a crocodile, that’s what we were telling ourselves.)
On the other side of the river, the grass was almost head height so we stomped our own path and followed the river to the east trying to keep out of view of the visitor centre. After about 1km we reached another smaller river. This was an easy crossing and a good place to cool down. On the other side of the river we met up with the Jatbula trail and started the hike. We left a handkerchief on the trail to let the girls know we had made it across safely.
Moral of the story:
Book the Jatbula Trail well in advance and pay the $3.30 per night and $8.50 ferry fee.
The fine never arrived 🙂