Driving along the Stuart Highway, The Devils Marbles seem to appear out of nowhere, and indeed the closest civilisation really is Tennant Creek, some 110km to the north.
Despite the remote location to have any chance of getting a decent campsite you need to arrive by at least 3pm. We turned off the Stuart Hwy and down the 2WD dirt track to the empty camping area at 2pm and were wondering if our information was awry. But not long afterwards caravans, kombi vans and camper trailers of all shapes and sizes drove in to the reasonably large camping area in a steady stream, and soon the late arrivals were struggling to find a spot at all. If you come early, set up next to one of the low tables that dot the area, ensuring no desperate latecomers park on top of you.
A couple of pit toilets and some fireplaces interspersed with tables are what you pay the small fee for, but we doubted anyone was there for the facilities.
THE DEVILS MARBLES CAMPGROUND
Karlu Karlu, as they’re called by the traditional owners, were formed naturally, slowly eroding over millions of years into their strange and sometimes gravity-defying shapes. The information boards at the camp ground inform about the geology and the site’s sacred meaning for the original land owners.
The camp ground is surrounded by the marbles, visible for 360° — the less adventurous can even watch the spectacular sunset from the comfort of their campsite. However, the best place to be when the sun sets over the red sand is up on the marbles. Like Uluru to the south, the marbles change colour as the sun sinks in the sky. Though here, unlike Uluru, you can sit amongst the boulders while the show takes place. Sunrise is just as spectacular, and different still, for the early riser gets treated to a completely different set of colours.
Even before the sun has risen above the horizon, most of the stream of campers has left, but we chose to stay an extra night — wanting to explore the marbles in the relative quiet their leaving provided. We were able to inspect the marbles in full, as although they seem to stretch out quite a distance, the main concentration of rock formations only takes an hour (and a couple of litres of water) to comprehensively cover on foot.
That evening we watched as an entirely different group of campers filled the camp ground — there must be masses of us out there traveling the country!
Once again we got to watch the amazing sunset, and returned to our camper trailer for a dinner under the stars.
We, like the rest of the convoy, left shortly after sunrise the next day. Leaving the majestic Devils Marbles to play host to another new load of travellers that very evening.
DISCOVER THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
- Explore Kakadu
- Travel to Uluru
- Discover Uluru and Kata Tjuta
- Camper's guide to Kings Cayon
Adapted from Camper Trailer Australia #44