Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
|Devils Marble's Conservation Reserve|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
|Managing authorities||Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory|
|Official site||Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve|
The Devils Marble's Conservation Reserve is located south of Tennant Creek area of Northern Territory in Australia. Karlu Karlu as they were originally known are of great cultural and spiritual significance to local Aboriginal people and is one of the oldest religious sites in the world.
The area is located near Wauchope, approximately 114&100bsp;km south of Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory. The site is known as Karlu Karlu to the land's Aboriginal traditional owners. The ‘Devil's Marbles’ or ‘Karlu Karlu’ with its gigantic, rounded granite boulders, some spectacularly poised, is a remarkable landscape. Scattered clusters of these ‘marbles’, including many balancing rocks, are spread across a wide, shallow valley. The Devil's Marbles is a nationally and internationally recognised symbol of Australia’s outback.
In 2007, according to the Northern Territory Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport 96,172 people visited the reserve. It is one of the most visited conservation areas in the Northern Territory and one of the main tourist attractions in the Barkly region.
The Reserve is accessible all year round and has a network of pathways with information boards and a basic camping area. Between May and October each year Rangers offer a program of live events at the site as part of their Territory Parks Alive Program.
Accounts of Aborigines believing the site to be eggs of the mythical Rainbow Serpent are incorrect. In reality, a number of traditional 'Dreaming' stories (none of which are about serpents) are present at Karlu Karlu, hence its great importance as a sacred site. These stories are alive and well and are passed on from generation to generation of Traditional Owners. Only a handful are considered suitable to tell to uninitiated visitors.
Most of the conservation reserve is a Registered Sacred Site, protected under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act.
On Tuesday 28 October 2008 ownership of Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles was officially passed from the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory back to the Traditional Owners at a ceremony held on the reserve. The reserve is now leased back to the Parks Service under a 99 year lease and the site is now managed by Rangers and Traditional Owners in joint partnership. Visitor access has not been affected.
Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles are of great cultural and spiritual significance to local Aboriginal people. Although Karlu Karlu is within country belonging to Alyawarre people, Kayteye, Warumunga and Warlpiri people also have spiritual connections and responsibilities for the area.
One of the main Dreaming stories for the area which can be told to the public relates to how Karlu Karlu was made. This tradition tells of 'Arrange', the Devil Man, who came from a hill nearby and travelled through the area. Whilst walking along, Arrange made a hair-string belt (a kind of traditional adornment, worn only by initiated men). As he was twirling the hair to make strings, he dropped clusters of hair on the ground.
The clusters turned into the big red boulders at Karlu Karlu that have become so famous today. On his way back to his hill, Arrange spat on the ground. His spit turned into the granite boulders in the central part of the reserve. Arrange finally returned to his place of origin, a hill called 'Ayleparrarntenhe' where he remains today.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
The Devils Marbles are made of granite, which surfaces like a little geological island in the desert, surrounded by large amounts of sandstone. The granite was formed millions of years ago as a result of the hardening of magma within the Earth's crust. Thick layers of sandstone on top of it put a lot of pressure on this granite. After the folding of the Earth's crust, which lead to the lifting of the granite and the erosion of the sandstone, the granite came to the surface. The pressure was gone, letting the granite expand; cracks formed, and it fell apart in big, square blocks.
The second phase of the formation of the Marbles started when the blocks were exposed to water. The surface of the blocks began to decay under the influence of the water, and a layer of loose material surrounded the individual blocks. When they came to the surface completely, this layer was flushed away by water and blown away by wind.
The rounding of the granite blocks is a result of both chemical and mechanical weathering. Firstly, exfoliation plays a part. Chemical processes cause the surface of the blocks to expand and/or shrink. Thin layers of rock come off the boulder. This rounds the granite block, because the chemical processes have more effect on areas with edges. These processes cause the rock to look like it is made of layers like an onion. In effect, only the outer few centimetres are affected by chemical weathering. This process is called spheroidal weathering. Secondly, the boulders are suffering from solarisation. Because the temperature differences between day and night are so great, the rocks expand and shrink a little bit every 24 hours. This causes some rocks to crack, sometimes even splitting them in half.
One of the marbles was removed from a formation in 1953 and taken to Alice Springs to form a permanent memorial to John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia. At the time, this was seen as a way of remembering his link to the outback, but in later decades it was a source of great controversy because the rock was removed from a sacred site without the direct permission of the tribal elders. In the late 1990s, a boulder swap was arranged, and the missing marble was removed from the grave, cleaned, and returned to its original place. The grave is now marked with a similar boulder donated by the local Arrernte people.
- "Place Names Register Extract". Northern Territory Land Information System. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- "Devil’s Marbles Conservation Reserve Joint Management Plan". Northern Territory Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport.
- John Flynn Memorial Story
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve.|
- "Controversy about removing a "marble"". Alice Springs News. 1999-09-08.
- "Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve".
- "Devil's Marbles handover ceremony".