The Devils Marbles – the eggs of the mythical Rainbow Serpent

Devils Marbles

The Rainbow Serpent of the Dreamtime

The Devils Marbles is one of the most extraordinary natural landscapes in Outback Australia and one of Australia’s most famous natural wonders.

The Devil’s Marbles Reserve is a very important and sacred site for the Indigenous people of Australia.  Aboriginal legend believes that these amazing formations are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent.

The Warumungu legend of the native Aboriginal people believe that the Devil’s Marbles are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent laid in the Dreamtime.

The Rainbow Serpent, of Aboriginal mythology ‘the Dreamtime’, controls life’s most precious resource – water.

Many “dreamtime” stories and traditions of the local Warumungu, Kaytetye and Alyawarre Aboriginal people are linked with this area.

The Dreamtime is the central theme in Australian Aboriginal mythology. It is made up of four different parts: the beginning of all things; life and ancestors; life and death; and sources of power in life.

What are the Devils Marbles?

The Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is 1802 hectares in size and stretches from horizon to horizon.  Varying in size some of the Marbles are up to seven metres in diameter and many of the Devils Marbles appear to be precariously balanced on top of each other.

The Devils Marbles are known as ‘Karlu Karlu’ by the local Warumungu Aboriginal people.  Karlu Karlu means ’round boulders’ in the language of the local Warumungu Aboriginal people.

The Science behind the Devils Marbles

Formed about 1640 million years ago these boulders were once part of a solid mass of granite which formed as the Earth’s surface cooled.  As the hot magma hardened, granite boulders began to form, cracking and splitting into tightly-fitting towers of rocks.

Erosion played a significant part, and over time the blocks of granite developed horizontal and vertical cracks, splitting into many rectangular blocks and with millions of years of wind and rain eroding them into the magnificent boulders that you see today.

Every marble looks different and the colours are rich and vibrant.

The Devils Marbles reserve offer a variety of habitats for unique desert flora and fauna.  Exposed sunny areas, shady areas and dark and moist shelters provide cool shelter habitats for many different species of snakes, lizards, goannas and birds.

Take a walk through the Devils Marbles

The Stuart Highway cuts through the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. The marbles are scattered through the valley on both sides of the highway but are easily accessible for people to explore.

There are story boards throughout the park which explain the formation of the Devils Marbles and the Aboriginal mythology of the area.

It’s one of the most spectacular places in the Territory to experience sunset.  The rich golds and reds create a stunning selection of colours against the rich blue evening sky.

Walking through the Devils Marbles in the evening is a surreal experience.

It’s fun to watch the tourists photo-pose themselves attempting to push over or lift one the marbles … shhh but I have some of those photos too!

Where Are The Devils Marbles?

The Devils Marbles are 410 kms north of Alice Springs and 1090 kms south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.   Or to make it easier … approximately 4 hours north of Alice Springs and 12 hours south of Darwin.  In other words, in the middle of nowhere!  (of course that depends on who’s driving)

I can testify to having one of the greatest steak sandwiches ever, last time I passed through!

The Devils Marbles Hotel just 8 kilometres south of the Marbles is a quirky little hotel.  It’s has a range of accommodation to suit most people’s needs and it’s a great place to stop for a meal and break the drive.

Tennant Creek is 110 km to the north of the Devils Marbles, has a population of around 8,000 people (reference: NTG website).  One of the largest small towns along the Stuart highway, Tennant Creek has a busy community presence servicing surrounding cattle stations.  Supermarkets, service stations, aboriginal art galleries, clubs and restaurants are available.

Camp at the Devils Marbles

Camping at the Devils Marbles is one of the great outback experiences.  The quietness of desert at night is calming and the night skies are full of stars.

The Devils Marbles provides a simple bush camp site with no shower facilities but has toilets, picnic tables and a barbecue pit.  Collecting firewood in the reserve is not permitted so make sure you bring your own firewood.  Fires are only permitted in the designated fire pits.

Things to remember:

  • Payment for camping is via an honesty system but it’s relatively cheap.
  • Pets are allowed on a leash in the day parking area but not permitted in the campground.
  • Generators are not permitted.

When visiting the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve be sure to stay on well worn tracks and pathways and follow the rules of the campgrounds.

It’s important to be aware that all the rocks, cultural items and wildlife are protected.

Have you been to the Devils Marbles?  What was your experience like?