About Tjaetaba Falls
Tjaetaba Falls was one of the more unsung and obscure waterfalls that’s actually easily accessible in Litchfield National Park.
The waterfall flows on Greenant Creek, which features a roughly 25m drop, but the catch with this experience was that it was the top of the waterfall that was its draw as opposed to its front (like for most waterfalls).
As you can see from the photo above, trying to witness most of this waterfall’s drop was an exercise in frustration mostly because of how overgrown its lookout was.
However, the lookout’s position was also high and too close to Tjaetaba Falls so you don’t really get to appreciate its full extent since most of its drop was below you.
I guess that’s why this waterfall was more of an obscure attraction though in recent years it had gained in popularity largely because it featured a deep swimming hole right at its brink.
Hiking to Tjaetaba Falls
The excursion involved hiking on a roughly 1.5km uphill track that went to both a lookout as well as the top of Tjaetaba Falls.
Given the tendency for the Top End to be rather hot and humid, this hike definitely made us sweat quite a bit.
In fact, the uphill track was steep enough that it took us around 40-45-minutes to get to the end.
However, it was a pretty easy 25-minute downhill hike on the way back (so give it a little over an hour in total).
From the Greenant Creek car park (see directions below), the hike started innocently enough by passing through a monsoon rainforest with a bridge to traverse Greenant Creek and the neighboring wetlands.
Once on the other side of the bridge, the track then stayed on the fringes of the monsoonal rainforest where it was lightly vegetated to our left but thickly vegetated to our right.
For the next 500m or so, the track stayed more or less flat along the fringes of the monsoonal rainforest before traversing another boardwalk over a wetland.
Then, the track opened up and started to make its steep ascent eventually reaching a trail fork where the path on the right descended to a lookout.
Taking this 50m descent to the lookout, we then got to the fairly unsatisfactory view of Tjaetaba Falls though we did get a nice view downstream, which made us appreciate how much climbing we did to get to this point.
Back on the main track, we then walked the remaining 50m or so to the Greenant Creek where we found ourselves right above an upper cascade spilling right into a deep pool right at the brink of Tjaetaba Falls.
Further upstream from this spot was another diminutive cascade and wading pool, which seemed to be used more by adults since it wasn’t deep enough for a cliff jump or swim.
Indeed, the pool right at the brink of the falls was inviting for many kids to do cliff jumps, and it was quite the family-friendly spot.
After having our fill of the Tjaetaba Falls, we then pretty much quickly made the mostly downhill hike back to the car park, where I swore it took nearly half as long as it did for us to climb up here.
Timing A Visit To Tjaetaba Falls
When we first visited Tjaetaba Falls in early June 2006, it seemed to have pretty healthy flow (as it was easily seen through the overgrowth at its lookout).
However, when we came back in mid-June 2022, its flow seemed to have diminished rapidly though the conditions seemed perfect for a swim.
Therefore, I’d imagine that the best time to visit this waterfall would be early in the Dry Season when the falls should have healthy flow but it wouldn’t be so big that it would make the plunge pool at the top of the falls dangerous.
Any earlier during the Wet Season, then the currents on Greenant Creek might be too strong to safely swim up there knowing there’s a 25m or so dropoff.
However, any later in the Dry Season, then the flow of Greenant Creek might diminish to the point that it wouldn’t be as fun anymore to play in that swimming hole atop the falls.
Taking things for what it’s worth, I’d imagine that June would be the best month to visit Tjaetaba Falls.
However all that could easily change with Global Warming and Climate Change destabilizing the historical patterns that once could be relied upon.
What’s Up With Green Ants?
Since Tjaetaba Falls flowed on Greenant Creek, I was naturally interested in why it got its name, and I speculated that there must be a lot of these ants nearby the creek.
I learned this after the fact, but an Australian we met during our trip in June and July 2022 told us that green ants (or green-headed ants) have a venemous but short-lived sting (which can hospitalize you if you’re sensitive to it).
She claimed that you could actually sterilize untreated water by putting them in the water, letting them drown in it, and apparently it’s as safe as if you boiled the water.
I don’t know how whether this is an urban legend or if it’s true (and I didn’t give it a go), but apparently these ants are also beneficial in terms of attacking other insect pests like beetles, moths, and termites.
Green ants are pretty ubiquitous throughout Australia and they’ve also been introduced in New Zealand.
Tjaetaba Falls resides in Litchfield National Park near Batchelor in the Northern Territory. It is administered by the Northern Territory Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Tjaetaba Falls is access from the Greenant Creek car park, which is about 59km west of Batchelor on the north (right) side of the Litchfield Park Road (Hwy 30) heading west.
Once off the Litchfield Park Road, we then pretty much accessed the day use car park quickly though the parking spaces seemed kind of limited when we were last there in June 2022.
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