OZ Top Spot #9 – Devils Marbles, Northern Territory
To go from the bizarrely sensational Wycliffe Well, UFO capital of Australia (if not the world!), to the magnificent grandeur of the Northern Territory’s Devils Marbles is to go from the ridiculous to the sublime.
A few hours on the road north from Alice Springs, exploring the weird and wonderful Wycliffe Well after parking in the Elvis campsite, then a few kilometres north to see the Devils Marbles by sunset gets pretty close to a day that can’t be topped! Actually, yes it can – a meal at the Galaxy auditorium back at Wycliffe Well followed by the first episode of a new Dr Who series could round the day off nicely … but I digress.
If you can fight your way through the other sunset photographers (well … god gave you elbows, right?), the Devils Marbles give amateur photographers (yes, that’s me!) with an unparalleled chance to take shots that look
like they were taken by someone else good. It’s one of those sadly all too rare places where it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo.
Wisps of cloud during our first visit in May 2008 gave the sunset panorama an oil-painting quality – and against the unbelievable colours of the rock as the sun went down, the white cloud against blue sky was breath taking.
Our second visit a couple of months later was at sunrise, with a perfectly blue sky and distinctly different light – and I also rediscovered the public toilets that then became a favourite, immortalised forever on this very blog …
Known as Karlu Karlu*, and sacred to local Aborginals, the site was returned to the traditional owners in October 2008. The conservation reserve is accessible to day visitors, but hell! Stay in the campground, with those FAAAAABULOUS public toilets, for a chance to take both sunset AND sunrise shots!
But how did they come to be here in the first place?? Glad you asked!!
The Devils Marbles were originally rectangular blocks caused by molten rock cooling under a sandstone layer. As the sandstone eroded, water, wind and sand formed the rocks into the shape with the smallest possible surface area – the sphere.
And here we see in action the great divide between science and art – this explanation seems just a little too prosaic for a place so magical, doesn’t it??
Perhaps that’s why the Aboriginal Dreaming story of the Rainbow Serpent, who after creating the earth, returned to a place where the rainbow meets the earth. The Rainbow Serpents fossilised eggs have now become what we know as Karlu Karlu* or the Devils Marbles.
Now – isn’t that a far more satisfying explanation?
* translation = ’round boulders’