Karlu Karlu, also known as the Devil’s Marbles, will leave you ogling at the wonders of the big red desert. Add this to your Northern Territory road trip itinerary, stat!

Highlights

  • Relaxed trails through kilometres of unique rocky outcrops 
  • Bird watching – particularly at dawn 
  • Awesome opportunity for photography (and astrophotography!)

The Long Drive to the Devil’s Marbles

Heading north along the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Bitter Springs I was ready for a couple of long days stuck in the Troopy. She likes to trundle along at 80km/hr on the highway and things inevitably end up taking longer than planned. There was one stop that I was really looking forward to reaching along the stretch – Karlu Karlu aka the Devil’s Marbles. For years I had marvelled at the photographs from here and it was finally my chance to get in on the action! 

We set up camp and waited out the blistering heat of the day. The flies were fierce and strong winds made it impossible to sit outside for too long without getting a mouthful of dirt and flies. Thankfully it all died off in the afternoon and we took off to explore the walking tracks around Karlu Karlu. 

 

Each cluster of rocks were evenly spread out and very unique – it almost felt like an outdoor art exhibit! I managed to scope out a few places that I wanted to revisit during the night, (but do you think I managed to remember where they were? Absolutely not). 

We were making dinner outside when one of the grey nomads started a huge fire – a definite no-no with fire bans throughout the Northern Territory at the time. The light of the fire painted the side of the rocks beautifully. Other campers yelled at them to put it out and I only had a brief moment to set up the tripod and capture a quick shot of the rocks – you gotta take your opportunities when they come up! Thanks, naughty nomads!

Later that night I took off to look for the rocks I‘d found earlier. A near new moon didn’t help my cause – I was pretty much looking for a needle in a haystack. Several hours of searching and a big iced coffee later I found the two rocks I was searching for. It was nearly first light by this stage but I managed to get a few long exposures before the stars disappeared.

 

Walking back to camp I made a quick detour to a large stack next to the entrance to the camp. The morning light lit up the rocks as red as I’d seen any in the Aussie outback.

 

As I was shooting the stack, a small flock of birds darted overhead and settled on the rocks behind me. They stood on the peak facing the sun, looking like they were enjoying the sunrise just as much as me.

 

And just like that, in the stifling heat and with only a few hours sleep, I packed up the car and hit the road again. With another long day in the Troopy, a part of me regretted not getting more rest, but another wanted to do it all over again.

Essential Gear

  • Camera – you won’t want to forget this one! 
  • Water bottles 
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Good walking shoes

How To Get There

Karlu Karlu is located on the side of the Stuart highway 412km north of Alice Springs and 100km south of Tennant Creek. They are well signed and are the only real landmarks for a long way, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding them! 

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Photography 
  • Camping
  • Bird watching
  • Star gazing 

Skill Level

Hiking trails are flat and easy – the marbles themselves make photography even easier! 

Distance Covered

There are a number of different walking tracks through Karlu Karlu – the longest being 4km. You should give yourself a few hours to complete them all, or even better, split them up over a few days.