Nitmiluk National Park, NT, Australia
Biddlecombe Casade is a savage beauty in Australia’s Top End. A once-in-a-lifetime location, it’s the perfect spot to experience the natural magic of this ancient land. Fed by a permanently flowing creek, the cascade is a little different from most waterfalls, which usually descend from a single ridge. Instead, water rushes down a series of small steps, fanning out as it hits each rock to create spectacular curtains of spray. Above the falls, there are rock pools to cool off in after your long bushwalk here. Biddlecombe Cascade is located along the Jatbula Trail in the Nitmiluk National Park, and offers a first-day respite to hikers tackling the 58km trek.
How To Get There: The waterfall can be found on the Jatbula Trail, a five or six-day trek following the western edge of the Arnhem Land Escarpment in the Katherine region. The trail begins at the Natmiluk National Park Visitor’s Centre near Katherine Gorge, around 30km from Katherine itself – you’ll need to organise transport from the town to the visitor centre. Biddlecombe Cascade is located an 8km walk into the trail, and is usually the end point for the first day of the hike. Jatbula is a one-way track, so once you reached this point, you will still have another 50km to walk along the trail, which ends at Edith Falls.
Difficulty of Access: 7/10 – It’s not a hugely arduous walk to reach Biddlecombe Cascade. However, as it is a one-way trail, there is no turning back once you start. You’ll need to carry a pack with all supplies, including food and shelter. The Jatbula Trail is in a remote location and as a five- or six-day walk, it’s considered a medium to hard. The trail is limited to 15 walkers per day, so your journey along here guarantees swims will not only be well earned and beautiful, they will be isolated, too.
Opening Times/Seasons: This walk is accessible in the dry season from June to September. The walk does fill up early for June, July and August when temperatures are at their coolest, so be sure to book ahead.
Entrance Fee: Jatbula Trail camp fees are $3.30 per person, per night. You will also need to take a $7 ferry ride across the Katherine River to begin the trail.
Facilities Nearby: The campsite near the falls includes an open-fire barbecue, a toilet and an ECD (emergency call device).
Other Activities: Deep inside the National Park, the Jatbula Track is the perfect place for bushwalking. Not far from the Biddlecombe Cascade, hidden among the rocky outcrops, you’ll find Aboriginal art sites of the Jawoyn people.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: Other permanent creeks can be found along the trail, including the Sandy Camp Pool, which is a beautiful swimming hole surrounded by soft sand. The Nitmiluk National Park is a paradise of interweaving gorges that can be walked, canoed, or even flown over by helicopter. The wider Katherine region boasts a smorgasbord of outdoor activities and adventures from caving to river cruises. The nearby town of Mataranka has breathtaking thermal pools. The Daly River is a popular spot for barramundi fishermen.
Wildlife: Each section of the Jatbula Trail has its own distinct character, with a variety of native animals, birds and plants. You may also spot a buffalo or two. Freshwater crocodiles do inhabit the waterways, but the pools near the campsites are inaccessible to crocodiles and safe to swim in.
Places to Eat: On the trail, you’ll need to be self-sufficient, but before you set off (or after you return), the town of Katherine offers options from Chinese restaurants to poolside dining or an easy meal at the country club. Something unique to Katherine is Marksie’s Stockman Camp Tucker Night, serving up ‘gourmet’ Aussie tucker under the stars, while Marksie entertains you with outrageous stories and tall tales. The Finch Café and Cicada Lodge are also highly recommended.
Where to Camp: The one-way track is peppered with convenient campsites at about 5km to 15km intervals. Each campsite has its own gorgeous swimming spot nearby.
Other Places to Stay: Before and after your walk, you’ll probably want to stay in Katherine, about 25 minutes’ drive from the beginning of the trail. Here you’ll have a range of motor inns, motels and beautiful resorts to choose from.
Nearby Towns: Katherine, Pine Creek, Venn, Barunga, Beswick, Elsey, Mataranka.
Other Swimming Spots Nearby: Northern Rockhole, Crystal Falls, 17 Mile Falls, Edith River Crossing, Sandy Camp Pool and Sweetwater Pool.
Comments: An experience like no other. It’s a big commitment to take on this trail, but the Biddlecombe Cascade is a worthy reward for the adventurous-hearted.