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Devils Marbles – stunning Karlu Karlu boulders

Devils Marbles

Taylor Creek Camping

On the way to Devils Marbles and Mataranka we stopped at Ti Tree. It is a typical roadhouse on the way up, with many Aboriginal people around the place.

Later on, we fueled up at Barrow Creek (population 11) and had a little surprise. There was a nice local, historic pub there and a nice lady running it as well. There is also a caravan park but we wanted to go a little bit more before stopping for the night.

When we arrived at Taylor Creek it was already 3 pm and about 12 caravans there already. We could find a spot on a sandy track among long, 50 cm grass.

This type of camping seems to be very popular and has its own unique flavor. But most of all, it’s free. Space there is limited, and after 4 pm, there is no need to look for a vacant spot, because it is so crowded. We parked in some tall grass, a bit to the side (grass was taller than our daughter Nell). The sun was setting beautifully, and next to us grew the slender Gum Trees. 

The night was quiet and the next day we drove off to see our next attraction: Devils Marbles.

Travel Spiced Life

When travelling on highway arrive before 3 pm to lock a free spot, otherwise all sites are taken

Taylor Creek Camping - Ghost Gum Trees
Taylor Creek Camping - Ghost Gum Trees

These types of trees (above picture) are called “ghosts” because of their white trunks. To complete the picture, a flock of grey-pink parrots (Galahs) sat on those ghost trees and it made everything look like a movie! For such evenings we are living for… And that’s when someone turned on the generator. The spell was broken.

Taylor Creek to Newcastle Waters via Devils Marbles

The next part of our trip was still boring as Stuart Highway does not offer more then small bushes on both side but this time we had a big attraction in the middle of the day – Devils Marbles.

Every morning we observe flocks of hawks circling the road in their pursuit for breakfast. Then, around noon, they disappear from the horizon to appear only in the late afternoon for dinner. 

Our next destination was Mataranka, a place famous for its beautiful hot springs. But it was still 680 km ahead of us and we were driving on an empty and perfectly straight Stuart Highway.

Stuart Highway
Stuart Highway

While driving, the questions are building in our heads.

Is there a bend on the road on the horizon or not? 

Do termites build their huts out of dirt or excrement? 

How strange termite mounds look, as the ghosts lurking behind the trees watching every move on the road. Is the gray body passed by the side of the road a cow, or something else … I can tell from experience – not long, not long at all. 

Devils Marbles - amazing formations

Devils Marbles
Devils Marbles

Around lunch we arrived at Devils Marbles. What a place for photographers!  

Devils Marbles are located 410 km north from Alice Springs and 96 km south from Tennant Creek. It is a must stop for everybody.

The “Marbles” are what’s left after millions of years of erosion. They rise up out of the desert scenery in an amazing display of granite – just like a natural art exhibition. Each boulder comes in a different size, ranging from between 50 centimetres to six metres across.

Also, it is worth to mention that Devils Marbles are also called Karlu Karlu by aboriginal people. It was only in 2008 that this amazing natural site was given back to the site’s traditional owners and now Devils Marbles are managed by them.

Devils Marbles Nell and Marius
Devils Marbles Nell and Marius

What is remarkable about Devils Marbles – many of the huge stones are balanced on top of each other, seeming to defy gravity. The day was gloomy but it was amazing to go around them and enjoy these amazing views.

Devils Marbles bunny
Devils Marbles bunny

After a good lunch, and a visit to this natural art gallery we were back on the road. Music was constantly murmuring in the background. Nell often protested against it, and demands her repertoire and, unfortunately, usually wins. Then we listen to the hit: “We are going to the zoo, zoo zoo. How about you, you, you”. When I really have enough of it, I put on earplugs and distance myself from the music that I cannot stand.

We will definitely remember Devils Marbles and stop there every time we are on the road between Alice Springs and Darwin.

Devils Marbles surprised Nell
Devils Marbles surprised Nell

The Red Centre - Summary

Let’s summarize our first impressions from the Red Centre, as we are already leaving it. The desert is not dry, you can see a lot of animals and birds on the way. Aboriginal people do not make a good impression (alcohol problems), and the free campsites have a fantastic atmosphere. It is worth driving a few thousand kilometres and observing it all as a tourist. However, I would not like to live here. 

An interesting fact is that you can meet a police patrol that is in the middle of nowhere, far from a liquor store or any civilization and they will stop you and check your alcohol intake level. It happened to us today and we were quite shocked.

I hope next time when we are here we visit the glorious Uluru, Kings Canyon and West MacDonnells.

Newcastle Waters free camping and stunning sunset

After 400 km and catching the last free place on a free campsite, we were lucky again. We stopped at Newcastle Waters. It is a very small free site camping, so far the smallest we visited.

We set up and enjoyed this beautiful Australian sunset.

Newcastle Waters Sunset
Newcastle Waters Sunset

Sunsets in Australia are remarkable, and this one was really spectacular. The sun illuminated the clouds from below with pink and orange rays, and at the same time the moon majestically appeared out on the horizon … 

In the background we could hear music from the 1950s (silver foxes know their music). It would be a great relaxation, unfortunately Marius with Nell went for a walk and disappeared. When two hours passed by, I went on a rescue mission (a satellite phone in one hand, a bandage in the other), but it turned out that there were 3 camper vans away! They have caught up with people from Brisbane who, like us, have sold their house and are traveling around the block. Their children are older than Nell and have to learn over the Internet. It’s good our daughter is three years old, school is out of the picture yet.

Nell on Stuart Highway
Nell on Stuart Highway

Daly Waters - Famous Pub

We had an early wake up at 5am. Our fellow travelers started to leave Newcastle Waters campsite one by one, heading to Port Augusta and Darwin (most of them headed north). We were on our way at 8.30am. Today we have to make only 260 km. We will be gradually slowing down as we finally managed to get away from winter and the temperature jumped to 28-32 degrees. Finally… 

In these warm and sunny circumstances, we noticed that the nature around us has changed dramatically. We can observe big trees, ponds of water and lots of birds. Hawks are more and more often replaced by huge eagles with a wingspan of up to 2 meters. They look phenomenal circling over the road where they can find a lot of run over kangaroos.

Daly Waters Pub
Daly Waters Pub

For lunch we stopped at Daly Waters. However, the price of diesel discouraged us from refueling. The prices are so sky-high because the fuel is transported by road trains from Port Augusta (approx. 2000km) and yet the port of Darwin is only 600 km away.

Daly Waters pub inside
Daly Waters pub inside

The main attraction in Daily Waters is the famous pub, which is decorated throughout with banknotes and other items left by visitors from every corner of the globe. 

Locals have a specific type of humor and we used it on our daughter asking if we should go to McDonalds for lunch… Let’s put it this way – she was not impressed with our sense of humor when she saw “this McDonalds”.

Daly Waters McDonald's
'Daly Waters McDonald's'

Then, we had a close encounter with a hawk that didn’t end well for it. Bird suddenly sat a few meters away in front of our car. We tried to avoid it, but it was too close, nothing could be done … Four and a half tones is hard to stop immediately.

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