Friday Foto: 17 Mile Falls


Another recent moment from the Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory’s Nitmiluk National Park, where once again a hot day of walking ended with the welcome relief of water.

This is 17 Mile Falls, base camp for our third night on the 65-kilometre-long trail along the edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment. In the heat, we’d pushed hard through the day and arrived into camp, which is at the head of this waterfall, by lunchtime. With an afternoon to play, I set out to find a way to the base of the falls, eventually following a couple of ledges down through the cliffs to the pool at the bottom. A quick and happily fruitless search for crocodile slides or other evidence of biting handbags told us we had the place to ourselves.

Towards sunset we returned again to the base of the falls in an effort to get this photograph with the sun gone from the cliffs. What appeared to be a thin stream of water at the top fell like a storm at the bottom. Water sprayed through the valley and slowly the last light of the day drained from the world.

I was reminded of more celebrated waterfalls in nearby Kakadu National Park, except that we shared this one with nobody and it took three days to walk here. It was worth every step.

* Adventure before Avarice travelled courtesy of Tourism NT and World Expeditions, which operates a six-day Jatbula Trail guided hike ($1895).

Friday Foto: Crystal Falls


After hours of walking through 36-degree heat, you can probably imagine the feeling when you get to drop backpacks at a spot like this.

I spent most of last week hiking on the Jatbula Trail, a 65-kilometre route along the Arnhem Land escarpment in the Northern Territory’s Nitmiluk National Park. Each day boiled with heat, but every one of them ended beside water. This particular stop was at a run of cascades just above the point where Crystal Falls tumble off the escarpment. It was the end of our second day of walking – a long stretch of open savannah woodland suddenly split by a rush of water.

We strung our mosquito nets – our homes for the week – a metre or two from the water and then cooled the afternoon away, swimming upstream, clambering through cascades just to see what lay beyond. The night air was colder than the water, and a near-full moon hovered in the sky like a reading lamp. By morning, when this photo was taken, the river was steaming through the chill like some sort of natural soup. The lilies that carpeted the water’s edge were still to yawn open and the citrusy light of dawn was slowly seeping through the valley.

The heat was coming fast behind, and we were setting off again along the escarpment in search of another waterfall and more cooling water.

* Adventure before Avarice travelled courtesy of Tourism NT and World Expeditions, which operates a six-day Jatbula Trail guided hike ($1895).