What’s special about Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles)?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 01/22/2024

Reading time: 4 mins

Karlu Karlu is an important landmark to the traditional owners who have dreamings that hold the people and the land together.

Karlu Karlu, also known as Devils Marbles, is a sacred site that has huge granite boulders in Devenport, Northern Territory. There are several boulders scattered across the land, with a few that are balancing on top of each other.

The Kaytete, Warumungu, Warlpiri, and Alyawarra are the traditional owners of the land and manage the park along with the Parks and Wildlife rangers. The traditional owners ask those who are visiting Karlu Karlu to not climb on the boulders.

Devils Marbles

How was Karlu Karlu formed?

These giant boulders were formed over millions of years when an upsurge of molten rock cooled down and then became solid under sandstone. Over many years, water got through tiny cracks in the sandstone and slowly broke it down until Karlu Karlu were exposed.

Camp

You can camp at the Karlu Karlu Conservation Reserve between May to September. If you plan to camp here, you will have to book and pay online before arriving at the campgrounds.

Go for a walk

There are a few different walking trails nearby that you can do around the national park. You can do the easy 20 minute return Karlu Karlu walk or a longer four kilometre Nurrku Walk.

As you go for these walks, keep an eye out for the local wildlife and the outback plants.

What else can I do?

Things near Karlu Karlu

Now, there isn’t a lot to do that’s a short drive away, but if you’re planning a road trip then keep reading on!

• Tennant Creek
An hour’s drive from Karlu Karlu you’ll end up in Tennant Creek. When visiting the town, make sure you go to the Nyinkka Nyunyu Culture Centre to learn about the local Aboriginal history.

The town also has a rich mining heritage, and you can visit The Battery Hill Mining Centre to learn more about it.

• Alice Springs
Alice Springs is a major town and usually it’s the best place to spend a night before continuing your journey through the outback. The town is about a four hour drive from Karlu Karlu.

If you’re an early riser or not, the sunrise hot air balloon is a must while in Alice Springs.

Alice Springs also has a few Aboriginal art galleries to see the diverse range of amazing artwork.

• Tjoritia/West MacDonnell National Park
If you’re already in Alice Springs, right next to the town is Tjoritia. Most people will visit the national park to do the Larapinta Trail, go for a swim in the waterholes, and follow the four wheel drive tracks.

• Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon is over a seven hour drive from Karlu Karlu! Most people will come here to do the six kilometre Rim Walk through Kings Canyon. On the walk, you’ll see the Garden of Eden, Priscilla’s Crack, and The Lost City domes.

• Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
The furthest away from Karlu Karlu is Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, being over an eight hour drive! But the national park holds one of Australia’s most famous attractions, Uluru. The same national park holds Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga), which is a group of large rock formations.

You can go for walks to see both attractions and watch the sunrise and sunset with a magnificent view.

The best time to see the gigantic Karlu Karlu is at sunrise or sunset. As the sunlight hits the boulders, it shows off the deep red colour. Make sure you also pay for a Parks Pass to allow entry into the national park if you’re a visitor of the Northern Territory.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.