The Natural and Cultural Wonder of the Devils Marbles

If you’re driving from Darwin and Alice Springs in the Uluru region, you’re likely to stumble across a geographical wonder. The Devils Marbles are one of the most eye-popping sights in the area, featuring huge balls made of granite that jut upwards from the dusty red landscape. They pepper the Devils Marble Conservation Reserve, which sprawls out for 100 kilometres to the south of Tennant Creek, each one ranging in size from 50 centimetres up to six metres.

The most awe-inspiring thing about these feats of nature is the way they are precariously balanced on top of each other, seemingly defying gravity. Over time, they have cracked and eroded to create an ever-changing landscape that will continue to evolve in the future.

Their Cultural Significance

The Marbles can be found in the traditional land of the Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra, and Warlpiri peoples, who refer to the Marbles as Karlu Karlu. This literally translates into English to mean “round boulders”.

The Marbles themselves are of great importance to the Aboriginal people in the area, and there are several legends that surround how they came to be. Stories have been passed down from generation to generation, many of which cannot be shared with visitors.

However, one of the most prominent stories relates to how the Marbles were made. It is thought that “Arrange”, an ancient ancestor of the Aboriginal people, made a hair-string belt but, as he was twirling and pulling the hair to make the strings, he dropped clusters of it onto the floor. These oversized hairballs turned into the big red boulders.

Walks at the Devils Marbles

Though there are no specific set walks in the area, there are plenty of crisscrossing trails you can meander along to catch a glimpse of the Marbles. As you wander the network of tracks that take you through the eastern side of the reserve, you can learn more about the culture and history of the landmark, and spot some of the wildlife that surrounds it.

During May and October, the reserve opens itself up to live events which form part of the Territory Parks Alive Program. At this time, visitors can experience locally run performances, art shows, dances, and music concerts which are set against the vibrant backdrop of the Marbles themselves.

The area is perfect for getting to know about these unusual rock formations and the desert landscape in Australia, while also discovering more about the traditional Aboriginal way of life and the rich cultural heritage that’s imbued in the region.

Explore the 5 Day Darwin to Alice Springs Tour today.