Devils Marbles NT – A Place of Meeting and Legend

Main marblesIn a landscape that sits quiet and still within the vastness of a singular horizon, when you come across such a striking natural feature as the Devils Marbles it is no wonder that the old Aboriginal tribal people as well as Aussies today, found much to be amazed with. In the Central desert and vast savannah country of the Northern Territory in the red heart of Australia, you find a truly wonderful landscape. The photo is deceptive… there a hundreds if not thousands of these clusters of marbles scattered within the bowl of their creation.

It is an old land, worn down through the eons since the Dreamtime. At the heart of the country sits the Macdonnell Ranges. In these ancient foothills of this truly old mountain range sits Alice Springs. The Devils Marbles, or Karlu Karlu are north of there, while Uluru or Ayres Rock sit south. They all sit quietly patient of life in the red heart of Aus. demarking its centre in this ancient land. As you travel around the Red Centre of Aus. you gain a sense of something unseen, unheard and yet undiscovered. It is a sense that comes with a timeless legacy of the Dreaming.

MapI previously wrote of a quest of my own that I am on as I travel the red heart of Australia. A quest for knowledge, understanding and a hidden promise, one found within the pages of an old tome, a treasure map and a mystery. I have found my treasure … knowledge, and it is a wonderous thing. I can’t tell you of my find or of what I discovered within the foothills of the Macdonnell Ranges as this forms the secret of the tale. I am researching the legends of the heart of Australia, those found within an old tome to try to uncover the mystery of Fire Mountain, of ancient rites and of endless times.

This mystery will be found in the third book in the series ‘The Spirit Children’ and it is a mystery that will be revealed when all is ready but for now, a small taste of the mysteries that can be found in the red heart of Australia at Karlu Karlu.

Devils Marbles as they are known by the whitefellas world, are a jumble of ancient orbital rocks. Large and dominating on the landscape they sit quiet, washed by the sandy winds of time and the waters of the seasonal monsoons, those which drain down through this country in the seasons of the ‘Big Wet’.

Devils MarblesKarlu Karlu is a secret place of sacred things. It is a place of ceremony and rite for an ancient tribal people who have now mostly faded into antiquity. They vanished into the land giving way to the more ‘civilized’ Aboriginal people, descendants of an ancient race who have now adopted more modern times and adapted to the stains of colonization and so called ‘civilization’ in their land. As did we all … ultimately.

I have always wondered about that word civilized … It no longer means sane, ordered or advanced to me as it once did. It is not representative of progress, instead it has come to mean many other things and these too make up the essence of the tale in the 3rd book of the ‘Spirit Children’ Series. There was nothing very civilized about the English occupation of Australia in the colonial era, certainly not for the convicts, nor the natives and largely neither for many of the later emigrants to this land. Though there were civilized influences in some remarkable men and women from all sectors. I term the colonization of Aus. as an ‘English occupation’ as it was England that ruled the young penal colony, even if the colonial people were largely of many nations. I could never quiet come to accepting the convict era in Aus. as in invasion as there simply was no invading force on a military campaign. When I hear that term used as loosely as it often is, what I hear is someone beating a drum about other matters and looking for ‘shock jock’ value.

What should be known in Australian history as the Killing Times, I have written about before. As a child I was never told these things. As a student our Education System kept these violent secrets from our history. Even Mark Twain, when he visited Australia in his travels noted the realities of this colonial land and still they are largely hidden even today.

The Killing Times took from our collective knowledge many things, all in the pursuit of greater wealth and power for some elitist and self-opinioned men. Many who ultimately failed, at the cost of many lives, in their haste to bring their brand of civilization and progress to the moving frontiers of a new country, and the birthing of a new nation. It was the respectful deeds of many who ultimately bought a decent form of civilization to Australia and we are still slapping it into shape even now.

Tribes of Dev. MarbThe least of that which was lost in the end was the ancient truths, Lore and legends of a truly ancient civilization. That of the Australian Tribal Aborigine who knew how to survive in this antipodian land like no other race or people could. He knew the lands secrets, he understood a way of life that was like no other in the world. He knew how to survive as a true child of the land who walked as one with the creations of the Universe unlike the rest of the ‘civilized’ world.

The Australian Aboriginal tribal society and way of survival was unique in the world. The civilization introduced to Australia in the colonial era was more concerned with profit, commerce and social strata or stigma, as it is still today in many respects.

The Aboriginal tribal knowledge was passed down within a system of rites of passage and as the Killing Times took its toll and the spread of disease, death and the natural attrition towards settlement in our history played out on the tribes, a great deal was lost. The methodology of passing down secret and sacred knowledge was torn to shreds and the old men and women of the land often passed into the Dreaming, having never passed on much of their histories or their Lore.

Karlu Karlu - a place of meeting in the Traditional Aboriginal Lore

Karlu Karlu – a place of meeting in the Traditional Aboriginal Lore

Some things remain though, some stories can be recounted and some rites of Lore remain. You will find these scattered across the land at places like the Devils Marbles, as the elders of a different era recall what little history and legend they can of their ancient race. These are the Dreamtime stories, the songs and songlines of ceremony. These are recollections of rites of passage, often now of another era but still they remain a whisper within a shady history.

I have one great belief though. It is born of my land, born of my country. This faith of mine is that which can be found in the very ‘Spirit of the Land’ itself. What wasn’t destroyed in the Killing Times was this Spirit of the land. The ancient thing that breathes its knowledge in a timeless place and it is something that still remains… to rediscover this was, and also remains my quest. It is a lost ark of knowledge. This Spirit of the land gave birth to tribal knowledge and legend. As once before, in a time of tribal knowledge and wealth, the land still tells its tales if only you will be quiet and listen.

This is the essence of storytelling and as I have said many times … I am most comfortable in my skin when I recognize myself as a story teller.

Travel well

CoversYou can explore the Lore and Legends of ancient worlds in her stories.
The Spirit Children series, ‘Lands Edge’ Book 1, will take you into the heart of Sydney on an adventure into legend and time. ‘Through other Eyes’ Book 2, will take you deep into the histories of the Jenolan Caves. It has been newly released and is available now at

Explore contemporary tales of the ancient Kadaitcha, or the Featherfoot of a truly unique Lore in ‘The Dreaming Series’.
Or enjoy some of her lively travelogues and tales of past true life travel adventures, published in both e-book and print under Around the Campfires and Oldies at Large.

You will find her on Facebook where you too can become part of the adventure. You never know… you might just catch up with her and The Man around the ridges somewhere.


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