Karlu Karlu or The Devils Marbles is a living Aboriginal cultural landscape and is recognized to be of great cultural importance to many Aboriginal groups. The collection of massive granite boulders stand up to 6 meters high and were formed over millions of years. These iconic Northern Territory outback formations can be found in the locality of the Warumungu; 1km off the Stuart Highway in Wauchope ~ about 100km south of Tennant Creek or 400km north of Alice Springs.
Last year we had time restraints so arrived late in the afternoon, completed a short walk and then left early morning. We always said we would return to spend longer and complete all 5 walks and now we have.
We decided to stay at Tennant Creek Thursday night, so only had a quick 1hr drive in the morning to ensure a spot in the campground. There is a caravan park (Devils Marbels Hotel) in Wauchope or a free camp 8km north named Bonney Well, which we stayed at last year, but really wanted the full experience of being surrounded by these amazing formations.
We arrived at 11am to an almost empty campground, but by about 4pm it was full.
After setting up, we decided to go on the longest walk first ‘Nurrku’ - 4km Grade 2: Easy. Our Cubs were due for naps, so we took the pram. There were three sections that required the pram to be lifted over and a few areas that had really soft sand but otherwise a smooth walk. We completed this in a little over an hour.
Saturday morning, we trekked out on two walks, starting with ‘Mayijangu’– 800m Grade 2: Easy. Again, we took the pram to rest tired legs, but our Cubs walked most of it. We headed around to the big boulders near the campground entrance and enjoyed some time really taking in the calmness and getting as close to the formations as we could. I had taken photos of the information boards, so I read out the history and how the marbles were formed.
Next, we returned down the trail, turned left and crossed the road to complete the ‘Karlu Karlu’ walk – 400m Grade 2: Easy. This is the most popular walk and recommended if you only have time to do one because it provides some of the best examples of the fascinating geology.
Back to the caravan for afternoon tea where met some wonderful travellers and heard some amazing stories. An early dinner and then off we went for the short 175m climb up to ‘Nyanjiki Lookout’ to watch the sunset about 5:45pm. Breath taking views as you look out over the beautiful landscape and bask in the vibrant colours bouncing off the marbles as the sun sets over the reserve.
The sunrise was amazing and a great time to complete our last walk ‘Yakkula’ – 1.5km Grade 2: Easy. After a good night’s sleep our Cubs had the energy to walk most of this one. We really enjoyed this morning walk; the air was fresh and the new day’s sun really added to the impressive experience of Karlu Karlu.
With no service in the area, except a wifi satellite next to the main road, it’s a great place to disconnect and delve into some remarkable cultural landscape of our country. Run by an honesty box system it costs $3.30 per adult or $7.70 per family per night and provides drop toilets and pits for campfires but please take your rubbish and keep this location clean.
Each walk is coded with a colour,
just follow the right coloured triangles.
1. Karlu Karlu Walk (dark blue) - 400m
Grade 2: Easy - 20min loop
2. Mayijangu Walk (green) - 800m
Grade 2: Easy - 30min loop
3. Nyanjiki Lookout (light blue) - 350m
Grade 3: Moderate - 20mins
4. Yakkula Walk (orange) - 1.5km
Grade 2: Easy - 30min loop
5. Nurrku Walk (red) - 4km
Grade 2: Easy - 1.5hr loop
I am so grateful we, and our children, have the opportunity to experience this amazing place and we hope it remains that way for generations to come.