Yesterday, I went into detail discussing the numerous Outback attractions awaiting adventurers in Australia’s immense red center, but today I discovered that my list omitted a much-frequented place known as the Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu).
I’ve heard whispers of this place from the Grey Nomads since entering the Outback nearly three weeks ago, but I never expected to be blown away by it (especially after basking in the glory that is the mighty Uluru).
The verdict? A gentle breeze at best.
Located just off the Stuart Highway, the Devils Marbles certainly requires a visit should you find yourself passing by. Having said that, nobody’s making a trip into the heart of the Northern Territory just to check out this boulder collection (at least not without being a little disappointed).
So what are the Devils Marbles?
The marbles are large granite boulders that came about when large subterranean chunk of granite, formed some 1700 million years ago, was slowly exposed to the elements and eroded into the boulders we see today (the same process that gave us Uluru).
Australia’s Aboriginal people regard this place with great significance and the area is protected under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act.
Known officially as the Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, this places doesn’t offer much in the way of facilities, but it does have the largest RV campground/parking area that I’ve seen since arriving in Australia (accessible via a dirt road on the south side).
A night of camping will cost you a whopping $3.30 per person (paid via honor system).
After I finish exploring a few of the many walking tracks weaving through the boulder field, I decide it’s time to set off in search of camping.
As much as I would like to enjoy watching the sunset and sunrise from the campground on the eastern side of the reserve, the (literally) hundreds of caravaners have made it an incredibly undesirable place to spend the night (I can hear the barking dogs and screaming children now).
I get back on the bike and ride another 4.5 mi / 7.4 km up the road to a rest area called Bonney Well.
Here, I meet an old Australian man and an Aboriginal woman who I think might be a couple? They both appear quite drunk, and they manage to trap me in conversation. I’ve got nothing else to do, so instead of retreating to my tent I take a seat and listen as they ramble on about Australia, politics, and their personal troubles.
After about half an hour of aimless chatter (and still no offer of a beer to their new friend), they ask me to take a photo of them.
“Hey! Can you send that photo to me?” the woman asks.
“Sure, what’s your email address?”
“No, can you like, send the photo to me?”
“You want me to print out the photo and physically send it to you?”
“Yeah! And can you print out one of those big ones?”
“Erm…what’s your address?”
“Tennent Creek” (Tennent Creek is a town about 60 mi / 95 km north of here).
“Yeah but what’s the address?”
“Just send it to the Tennent Creek post office.”
“Okay…I’ll see what I can do.”
Unfortunately, the name she wrote down for me was illegible, and next thing I knew they had hopped in their car and headed out to the reserve.
I don’t think she’ll be getting this photo.
- START: Barrow Creek, Northern Territory
- END: Bonney Well, Northern Territory
- DAY’S DISTANCE: 85.9 mi / 138.24 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 1,783.57 mi / 2,870.38 km