Touring often means stopping overnight to get to key destinations but provides opportunities to spend afternoons exploring and finding something unique. Stopping at the Devils Marbles on the way into the West MacDonnell Ranges allowed Kari and I to meander through this ancient land and simply wonder how these boulders and formations ended up here.
The Devils Marbles or Karlu Karlu Conservation Reserve is located about 120km south of Tennant Creek on the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory. You certainly don’t need a 4wd to visit but if you are touring it has a basic camping arrangement and facilities.
The aboriginal term ‘Karlu Karlu’ means round boulders. The Devils Marbles seem out of place to the surrounding countryside. While driving through this part of the world be ready for some impressive viewing and quite a few “how the hell is that boulder was able to balance in that position?” moments.
Exploring The Devils Marbles / Karlu Karlu
The boulders themselves are granite and vary in size and shape with some over six metres in width and needless to say, are impressive. For Kari and I, it appeared to the naked eye these boulders in many cases simply defied gravity.
You will find some of the granite boulders are halved almost like they have been clean split by axe. The Northern Territory National Parks Commission explains that many of the solid appearing boulders contain secondary cracks called ‘joints’. The joints allow rainwater to penetrate which reacts with other minerals in the rock-forming clay. Therefore the process is known as ‘weathering’ and may weaken a boulder along a near-vertical crack allowing the weight of the boulders halves to cause the boulder to split. B It is a genuinely impressive sight when you see how clean the split is. Other weathering causes unique peeling of the outer skin of the granite boulders. Interestingly this provides a contrast of colour between the outer and inner skin of the peeled section. To learn more about various weathering processes follow the link.
There are no specific walks, simply self-guide yourself through the landscape and discover interesting formations and colours. Significantly one of the great opportunities with travel in central Australia are the colour changes. Somehow it entices the amateur photographer in us all.
There is no exception when you spend an evening with the Devils Marbles. As the sun sets ensures you find yourself exploring and watching the colour changes within the marbles. Reds, pinks, orange and yellows appear at various points and therefore provides a relaxing opportunity to wind down a day.
Don’t be afraid to check out the marbles after dark to see how the evening light colours the Devils Marbles. Besides that, it’s an ideal location to watch the big skies of central Australia appear. An evening with the Devils Marbles never disappoints.
For more information on Devils Marbles/Karlu Karlu Reserve jump on the Northern Territories Parks and Reserves website