Greenant Creek Walk | Tjaetaba Falls
Start - Greenant Creek Car Park
Length - 3km (Return)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track
Vertical Climb - 63m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 12th July 2019
Best Time - Dry Season (May to October)
Directions - Located just over an hour south of Darwin, take Stuart Hwy south until you reach the turnoff for Batchelor Rd. Follow the Litchfield NP signs all the way through Batchelor and Rum Jungle until you reach the Tjaetaba Falls/Greenant Creek Car Park. The trail head is located on the northern side of the car park.
The Hike - After another lovely hike and a bit of a cooling swim at Wangi Falls, we had time for one last hike on our Litchfield day and I decided that it would be fun to check out Tjaynera Falls given we had a full mine-spec Toyota Landcruiser to tackle the 4x4 tracks needed to get there. We found the Reynolds 4x4 Track but soon reached a fairly big creek that Candy and Caris were not comfortable crossing in the hire car so we made alternate plans for a visit to nearby Tjaetaba Falls instead. Located right near Tolmer Falls, just off the main road through Litchfield, this would be the longest hike of the day but at 3km it was still a pretty easy walk.
With everyone out of the car and assembled in the Greenant Creek car park (which I was pronouncing "grennant" until I saw a picture of a green ant and realised how silly I was), we found the correct path and departed on our there and back again journey. The first thing I noticed was this amazing looking palms that grew in a spiral style from the base up (second picture in above gallery). I've done some light googling and can't find the name of them but they were fascinating to look at because of the cool way they grew, I've never seen anything like it. Crossing the first of a few bridges along the way, you come into contact with Greenant Creek for the first time, a gentle flow of water at this time of year and one that supports the monsoon forest that you walk through for the first part of the walk.
This dense forest of tall tropical trees, Carpentaria Palms and bright green ferns is a lovely place to walk through and the boardwalk means you don't have to worry about trampling through the undergrowth or getting muddy shoes. With the afternoon sun now providing some better light for photography, I was enjoying being able to capture the dense forest without the harsh contrast between light and dark like we had at the Shady Creek Walk (although it wasn't perfect still). After winding through the forest for a little while, you pop out next to the slope of a hill where you can see the transition between the monsoon forest and the savanna woodlands that will be home all the way to Tjaetaba Falls. The divide between dry grasslands and green forest is quite a contrast but let's you appreciate the harshness of the landscape and how life can really thrive when given the right (wet) conditions.
Leaving the monsoon forest you enter the savanna woodlands and start the climb up to Tjaetaba Falls. This dry yet beautiful landscape was looking a bit burnt after some recent controlled burns by NT Parks but because they were done correctly, the canopy of the woodland was still green. The winding path up the hill was easy going if you stopped every now and then to admire the woodlands and the path was well constructed with rocky steps where needed. A feature of this part of the walk during the dry season was the flowering Kapok Bush with these bright yellow flowers filling up the edges of the path. Being a small tree, the flowers were more often than not quite a distance in the air so you had the magical contrast of the yellow buds against the bright blue of the afternoon sky.
As you rose higher up the hill you started to get some nice views looking back towards the monsoon forest and also further out to the hills beyond Tolmer Falls with Mount Tolmer being the main feature. Here a sign pointed you down towards the lookout for Tjaetaba Falls and a spiral staircase takes you down to where you can best view the falls. With a bit of vegetation in the way, the falls were hard to see and given the area below the falls is sacred indigenous land, this is the best view that you'll get on the walk (please respect the custodians of the land and stick to the trail). From here I could hear a group of people at the plunge pool above the falls and with that being the turnaround point of the walk I headed up to meet with the others (I'd fallen well behind).
The top of the falls was really cool place with a small plunge pool to the right leading all the way to the edge of the falls and a larger pool to the left that was fed by a small series of rapids. There was a large group of people swimming in the plunge pool when I arrived and with it being a typically warm day in the NT, it looked like a nice place to cool off. Unfortunately they were a group of "ugly Australians", making a large amount of noise and having no self awareness whatsoever. We were there for about half an hour and although I probably would have had a swim if there were only a couple of people here, there were plenty of others that were waiting for this large group to stop jumping around and taking up all the space, including a young couple that were clearly in their swimmers just sitting there waiting for an opportunity. Watching all this happen it was remarkable that one of them was trying his best to win a Darwin Award for stupidity as one of the dads of the group decided he would collect rocks from the edge of the falls (no idea why) but doing so in a manner that meant if he slipped from his awkward position, he would have almost certainly fallen over the edge to his death (see gallery below).
Feeling bad for the other people wanting to experience the plunge pool for a while and not getting the opportunity (the group was constantly jumping from the rocks into the pool and the remaining area was taken up by others in the same group), I headed off to the quieter area near the larger pool to take photos. This larger pool looked less inviting as it was a bit shallower and very murky but to admire from the comfort of the rocky platforms was quite nice. I found a few spiders to photograph near the rapids before returning to our little group. Realising that a swim wasn't going to happen we decided to head back down the hill to the car park. With the afternoon sun now much lower in the sky I was enjoying photographing everything again and even managed to get a shot of a green ant as it made its way up and down a branch. A great way to finish our last hike in Litchfield but I'm sure this won't be my only visit to the park as there are still many more walks to experience here.