It began as a fun dare between friends and turned into a walk of a lifetime.

The Trailblazers Women’s Walk saw women of all ages come together to share stories, knowledge and forge friendships as they followed the Jatbula trail, an important track Jawoyn people have walked for millennia.

The trail follows the route travelled by generations of Jawoyn people between the Gorge and Leliyn. It is named after Peter Jatbula, a Jawoyn man who was instrumental in securing land rights for our people and who walked this route with his family.

“It is an honour and privilege to follow in our ancestors footsteps,” Jawoyn chairperson Lisa Mumbin said to the women as they gathered at Nitmiluk Information Centre.

“For many of us it is the first time we have walked this country, and we begin this trek with pride in our hearts.”

After a briefing by Nitmiluk National Park staff, the women took a boat trip across the river to kick off their 8.3 kilometre journey to Biddlecombe cascades. Moving across grassy and woodland areas, they stopped to have lunch under shady trees near the Northern Rockhole and after a much-needed rest, continued along the trail to arrive at the cascades and enjoy the beautiful surrounds in the late afternoon.

The next morning the group rose with the sun and enjoyed breakfast and many laughs before packing up camp and starting the second leg of their journey to Crystal Falls. The ever-changing scenery was stunning and included crossing a couple of creeks, a few big “jump ups”, beautiful waterholes as well as impressive rock art.

The 11-kilometre walk saw the women cross some varied and at times challenging terrain, but when the going got tough the group supported one another. The younger women who walked ahead would stop and wait until the rest of the group caught up – and many a shady tree became the site of much chatter and laughter as the ladies caught their breath. After a long day, everyone rolled into the beautiful camp site of Crystal Falls to enjoy an evening around the campfire.

As part of the journey to enjoy the trail and take in the surrounds, the women spent a couple of days relaxing and exploring the area, and sharing stories at night.

The Trailblazers intend to do a couple of more legs of the trail next year.

Thank you to the Jawoyn Rangers and the Nitmiluk National Park rangers for their support through the journey.

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