Playing with the Northern Territory Devils Marbles

Image courtesy of Travel NT

Karlu Karlu is their traditional name, but visitor’s to Australia’s Northern Territory would better know the granite outcrops as the Devils Marbles.

These huge rocks are part of the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, which is located on the Stuart Highway, 114 kilometres south of the town of Tennant Creek, and nearly 400 kms north of Alice Springs.

Why are they called the Devils Marbles?  Simply because they look like a giant set of marbles, and they are scattered around as if still in a state of play.

Some of these rocks are up to six metres across, and a few of them are perched precariously on top of other rocks, looking as if they were carefully placed there by some giant hand.

Although they look ominous, and they certainly have an otherworldly feel about them, these rocks are merely the product of ancient volcanic activity.  Many of these rocks are rectangular-shaped, and originally all of the rocks would have been the same, but millions of years of weathering has seem some of the rocks lose their straight sides and angles to become round.

Aboriginal Dreamtime stories tell of their inception in a more romantic way, according to these legends, the Devils Marbles are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent, and they are said to contain great powers.

The Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is very easy to find as there is not much else out there in this part of the Northern Territory.  It is relatively easy to walk among the rocks, and this is how you will best appreciate their great size.  One thing the Devils Marbles have in common with better known rocks, such as Ayers Rock (Uluru as it is now known), is that they change colour throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky, and their most vibrant colours can be seen at either dawn or dusk when they turn a vivid red.

To help you enjoy the view at these times there is a camp ground at the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. Be warned, it is very basic, containing just a toilet, a couple of picnic tables and some wood-fired barbecues.  Even though you are just off the main road, you should always be prepared when travelling through such remote country, making sure that you carry enough water, food, basic camping equipment, spare parts for the vehicle and warm clothes as being desert the temperatures do drop dramatically at night.

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