The Karlu Karlu, Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve features one of Australia‘s most striking and sacred landscapes. A collection of red boulders that look as though they were carefully sculpted and intentionally positioned have been the source of endless wonder and speculation since the first humans roamed the Australian Outback over 50,000 years ago.
In 1870, explorer John Ross commented that Australian Outback was so desolate that it appeared that the devil himself had passed through and dropped his marbles. Long before anyone of European descent set foot in Australia, a handful of Aboriginal communities considered Karlu Karlu— or “round boulders,” as they called the area—to be sacred land.
Most Aboriginal stories about the origin and significance of Karlu Karlu are only shared among people who consider the landscape sacred. However, there is a widely told story about a Devil Man named Arrange who was wandering the Outback weaving a hair string belt. Arrange dropped clumps of hair as he traveled. Arrange’s discarded hair morphed into a series of red boulders.
Geologists state that the distinctive granite boulders of Karlu Karlu The Devils Marbles formed when tectonic activity and hardening magma caused rock from the Earth’s interior to rise to the surface. The temperature extremes of Australia’s Outback—heat in the day and cold at night—cause the boulders to continually change. Some boulders are even split cleanly in half as though they were cleaved by a giant’s axe.
Visitors from around the world flock to Australia‘s remote Northern Territory to see Karlu Karlu/The Devils Marbles with their own eyes. Visitors can walk among the boulders, snap photos, picnic, and camp in a sacred space which is currently co-managed by the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service and a group of dedicated Aboriginal traditional owners. Few places on Earth leave visitors with a stronger sense of wonder than Karlu Karlu/The Devil’s Marbles.
The Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is located in the remote Northern Territory of Australia. To reach the reserve, visitors typically fly into Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, and then drive or take a tour to the site, as it is located about 4 hours south of Darwin. There may also be other transportation options such as bus or train services, depending on your starting location and the time of year.