Formed by millions of years of erosion and precariously perched in the desert, Karlu Karlu (or “the Devil’s Marbles”) is one of the most famous geologic sites in Australia’s desert interior. Located on the lonely stretch of highway between Alice Springs and Darwin, Karlu Karlu is a sacred stretch of rock strewn Australian landscape. A few of these rounded, eroded “marbles” are upwards of 20 feet wide, and are delicately perched on top of each other in ways that barely seem real. The slightest breath of wind, it seems, would topple the rocks and send them crashing to the dusty red earth below. These rocks, however, have stood in this spot for millions of years, and form parts of sacred creation tales for the area’s original inhabitants. There are no official trails in the park—just informal, well-worn paths—and the desert landscape’s epic silence improves with each step from the road. In the peak of the day, the boulders appear flat, completely lifeless, and really not all that special, though all of that changes in the hour before sunset in the light of the soft desert glow. A primitive campground allows travelers to camp amidst the towering rocks, and catch the afternoon light performance before all the stars come out. And, while it’s easy to photograph the famous marbles without even leaving the parking lot, the best way to experience the park is to walk amidst the landscape—where boulders seem to have gotten stuck after raining down from the sky.
Karlu Karlu is located 65 miles south of Tennant Creek, and 245 miles north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory’s interior. Due to scorching summertime temperatures that can stretch well over 100 degrees, the site is best visited in the cooler months of May-August. Should you choose to visit in the middle of the day, be sure to pack water and sun protection as there’s definitely a lack of shade.